The next big thing in Technology?
The Technology sector has been a star investment performer in the past decade, but finding the next big thing and investing early is a real challenge, even for seasoned investors. If you’re interested in a long term investment that could potentially generate enormous returns, then the crazy world of quantum computers needs to be on your radar.
Quantum computers – crazy but true
A quantum computer sounds like something you might find on Star Trek, but they are real and have the potential to transform the world in the coming decades. Einstein famously once said, “I cannot believe that God plays dice with the universe.” But it turns out that Einstein was wrong, because at a subatomic level, the world obeys the laws of quantum mechanics, and randomness is an intrinsic property of all quantum systems. Unpredictability might not sound like a promising basis for a computer, but it’s the secret behind how quantum computers work.
What is a quantum computer?
In a conventional computer, the basic unit of storage is the binary bit, which can be either 0 or 1. In a quantum computer, the basic storage unit is called a qubit (quantum bit) and it has the sanity-threatening property of being both 0 and 1 simultaneously. This kind of weirdness is commonplace in quantum mechanics, and it’s why Einstein hated it. You might think it sounds like nonsense, but quantum mechanics has proved itself in experiment after experiment and there is no doubt in the scientific community about its correctness.
Anyway, back to the quantum computer. In a conventional computer it’s often necessary to loop over all the possible values of some variable and repeat a mathematical or logical operation for each possible value of that variable. A quantum computer on the other hand, because its qubits hold all possible values of a variable simultaneously, can perform the entire loop in a single operation. Complex problems that would require billions of operations collapse to an almost trivial calculation, making quantum computers capable of performing tasks that would be simply impossible in any conventional computer.
Companies already building quantum computers
You might think all this sounds fanciful, but already there are commercial companies building real quantum computers. IBM and D-Wave are two of the most prominent. Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos has already invested heavily in D-Wave and the company’s products are being tested by Google and by Lockheed Martin, which is using D-Wave computers to create and test complex radar, space and aircraft systems. There’s even an investment fund called the Quantum Wave Fund aiming to allow private investors to invest in early stage, private companies engaged in research in the sector.
The uncertainty principle
In quantum theory, there’s a principle of uncertainty. But an uncertainty principle operates in the world of investment too. Safe investments aren’t likely to generate enormous returns. On the other hand, risky investments may lead to huge profits, but they may end up worthless.
So if you want to invest in the next big thing, you might consider taking a long shot and putting some of your hard-earned money into an extremely risky investment. After all, uncertainty is what quantum theory is all about, but it’s certain to be a smarter move than buying a lottery ticket.
Disclaimer: the author has no investments in any of the companies mentioned. Investments should always be undertaken as part of a balanced portfolio.