As developers get closer to bringing quantum computers to market, early proof-of-concept tests have succeeded in carrying out the world’s first quantum shopping transaction. Hosted on a small test network in China, the quantum internet claims to solve most online security concerns.
The Quantum Internet Explained
The quantum internet is exactly what it sounds like â€“ a network of connected quantum computers that can send and receive information between its members. Quantum computing is being pursued because it will afford unparalleled security and privacy to the individuals and organizations that use them. While they aren’t replacements for classical computers, they are viewed as a necessity for the continued digitization of society.
In theory, using the quantum internet to conduct transactions will benefit most businesses that receive online payments. If adopted in the future, fields like retail, e-commerce and other online entertainment services would experience the speed and security benefits of quantum computing. Currently, secure transactions are used in everyday business, from giants like Amazon to iGaming activities like online bingo at Paddy Power. Through quantum computing, it’s possible to make transactions and other critical data-sharing events instantaneous. Given the resource demands of running a quantum computer, sectors like B2B are most likely to facilitate transactions between large business entities.
The Proof-Of-Concept Test & Use Cases
The proof-of-concept test took the form of a simple e-commerce transaction. It was performed at the Renmin University of China (RUC), led by quantum information physics PhD researcher Hua-Lei Yin. The research team used five quantum computers, arranged into a simple network using fiber optic cable. When transferred between those quantum computers using the internet, data is virtually untouchable.
The test was a success, proving that such transactions could take place. Intercepting the data during transmission resulted in an alert to the computers, meaning the receiving device rejected the tampered data. This is the main security benefit to quantum-coded data transactions â€“ any external influence on the transmitted qubits becomes obvious to the recipient.
The RUC isn’t the only university pursuing quantum internet advancements, with the University of Chicago leading the charge in the west. Illinois is home to the largest quantum internet network currently in use, transmitting data across 124 miles of optical fiber between university buildings and the Argonne National Laboratory owned by the US Department of Energy.
Argonne and partners attained a major milestone toward quantum computing based on single-electron qubits: nearly a thousand-fold increase in coherence time and a first demonstration of scale-up – https://t.co/4F0qLzjwRS pic.twitter.com/1QuEEut0PQ— Argonne National Lab (@argonne) December 11, 2023
Alongside security use cases, a quantum internet can also be used to combine the processing power of multiple computers. While one quantum computer is capable of very powerful calculations, several working together can harness processing power that’s impossible for today’s best classical computers. Using more qubits in a system improves processing power exponentially, explained by this handy CB Insights cheat sheet. This is ideal for future calculations by researchers, mathematicians, and other complex studies where sophisticated digital modeling is required.
Ultimately, the development of quantum technology is slow. While it may have sped up in recent years, experts still suggest we are a decade if not more away from adoption. Even then, classical computers won’t be replaced by quantum because the average person uses their machine for daily admin work, not intense data processing.