IBM Makes Quantum Computing Available to Anyone

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Layout of IBM's four-qubit device announced in 2015. IBM is making quantum computing available to the public for the very first time. IBM

IBM Research has made quantum computing available to the public for the first time, allowing researchers and scientists to run experiments on the firm's quantum processor.

Quantum computers have been hailed for their revolutionary potential in everything from artificial intelligence to cancer treatment, and IBM's announcement follows last week's news that the European Commission is setting up a €1 billion ($1.13 billion) project to develop quantum technologies.

What is quantum computing

The IBM Quantum Experience is a first-of-its-kind quantum computing platform that can be delivered onto a computer, tablet or smartphone through the IBM Cloud.

"Anyone can sign up online and request an invite," Jerry Chow, co-lead of the IBM Quantum Experience, tells Newsweek. "We'll have different levels of access depending on the requirements—be it an educational tool for universities or a platform for higher level research.

"It will allow people to test algorithms and quantum code through the simulation, as well as develop applications for quantum systems."

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The cloud-enabled quantum computing platform, called IBM Quantum Experience, will allow users to run algorithms and experiments on IBM's quantum processor. Jon Simon/Feature Photo Service for IBM

IBM's quantum processor is composed of five quantum bits, or qubits, and is leading the technology giant's ambitions to build a universal quantum computer, which is billed as the future of computing but does not yet exist.

Universal quantum computers would be exponentially faster than traditional computers and could solve problems that would be impossible even with today's supercomputers. Academics predict, however, that it will be at least a decade before one is developed.

"Quantum computers are very different from today's computers, not only in what they look like and are made of, but more importantly in what they can do," says Arvind Krishna, senior vice president and director of IBM Research. "Quantum computing is becoming a reality and it will extend computation far beyond what is imaginable with today's computers.

"This moment represents the birth of quantum cloud computing. By giving hands-on access to IBM's experimental quantum systems, the IBM Quantum Experience will make it easier for researchers and the scientific community to accelerate innovations in the quantum field, and help discover new applications for this technology."