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Quantum Computing: Overview Essay

5931 words - 24 pages

BUS-5013: Robert Servais ID: 0323483

Overview, Historical Context and Development of Technology

Since the dawn of the Information Age in the 20th century, academics, governments, big business and tech savvy consumers have all been granted access to endless amounts of data through an online repository with the simplicity of a mouse click. The amount of information available to the world is a triumph mainly attributable to breakthroughs such as those given by Tim Berners-Lee with his introduction of the World Wide Web in the early 1990’s, and constant developments in computer science and computational power made possible through advances in microprocessing capabilities which seem to be ...view middle of the document...

One of the first computers ever launched to challenge these computational problems was the Mark I, which was developed in response to a growing need to perform military calculations during the second world war (Bellis). This was a triumphant feat as it was able to cut calculation times from hours to mere seconds. This paradigm shift in computing power was partly possible through the incredible brilliance of an English mathematician named Alan Turing, who envisaged a universal machine which could essentially take inputs and generate outputs if instructed with the appropriate algorithm. In 1936 Turing wrote a paper to challenge this idea titled, On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, in which he explained such “automatic machines” could indeed exist given the right set of instructions and led him to devise a hypothetical mechanism called the Turing Machine (Turing, 1936). These automatic machines were the foundation for early computers like the Mark I, and the perils of war drove the innovation needed to develop more sophisticated computers. Initially these a-machines as Turing called them, were becoming more advanced to approach problems in cryptanalysis and allowed him to reach part of his intellectual stardom through his work at Bletchley Park during the second world war by deciphering the German Enigma Code (Watson, 2012). Turing’s accomplishments let him ponder the applications of greater computing power and what it would mean for the future of mankind. He believed one day computers would possess such extraordinary computational power that artificial intelligence (AI) was not only possible but only a matter of time (Leavitt, 2006). He devised a method for determining what constituted artificial intelligence through an evaluation called the Turing Test. The test is carried out by placing a human examiner in one room at a computer and allows him to type to both another computer and another human correspondent in a separate room. When the examiner communicates with the other two entities through the terminal and cannot tell which one is the human and which one is the machine, then the computer has passed the Turing Test (Leavitt, 2006). Dreaming of artificially intelligent machines in the 1950’s set the bar for today’s computer programmers and software engineers. It remains the holy grail for the computer world.
Classical computing has catapulted technological potential over the last sixty years to allow for breakthroughs in virtually every aspect of life, but still stands in the shadow of some of the worlds greatest problems. As our ability to generate, store and process information increases exponentially as more and more people gain access to information, we have encountered an unforeseen problem. The proverbial fruits of our technological advantage have come sweet, but have left a bitter taste of information overload in our mouth. Classical computers are undoubtedly amazing machines which have given us...

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