In case you haven’t heard already, there is a new star player out there in the world of AI. On the 30th of November 2022 OpenAI released their newest research project ChatGPT (https://openai.com/blog/chatgpt/) to the public, and it is seriously mind-blowing!
But this article is not about AI (or is it?), but about an introduction to quantum computing. So let’s start by giving a brief overview of what quantum computing is all about.
Quantum computing is a type of computing that uses the principles of quantum mechanics to perform calculations and operations on data. In classical computing, data is stored in bits, which are binary units of information that can have a value of either 0 or 1. In quantum computing, data is stored in quantum bits, or qubits, which can exist in a state of 0, 1, or both at the same time, known as a superposition. This allows quantum computers to perform calculations on multiple pieces of data at the same time, potentially making them much faster than classical computers for certain types of calculations.
The concept of quantum computing was first proposed by physicist Richard Feynman in the 1980s. However, the field of quantum computing has since grown and developed through the contributions of many researchers and scientists. Some notable figures in the development of quantum computing include David Deutsch, who proposed the first quantum Turing machine; Peter Shor, who developed the first quantum algorithm for factorization; and Lov Grover, who developed the first quantum algorithm for searching an unstructured database. Today, quantum computing is an active area of research and development, with many companies and research institutions working on building practical quantum computers and developing new quantum algorithms and applications.
A qubit is the fundamental unit of information in a quantum computer. In classical computing, the basic unit of information is a bit, which can have a value of either 0 or 1. In quantum computing, the equivalent of a bit is a qubit, which can exist in a state of 0, 1, or both at the same time, known as a superposition. This property of qubits allows quantum computers to perform calculations on multiple pieces of data at the same time, potentially making them much faster than classical computers for certain types of calculations. In general, the state of a qubit is determined by a combination of its underlying physical properties, such as its spin or polarization, and the operations performed on it. By applying specific operations, known as quantum gates, to a qubit, it is possible to manipulate its state and perform calculations on it.
A quantum gate is a basic building block of a quantum circuit, which is used to perform a specific operation on one or more qubits. Just like classical gates, which are used to perform logical operations on classical bits, quantum gates are used to manipulate the state of qubits and perform calculations on them. There are many different types of quantum gates, each of which performs a different operation on one or more qubits. For example, the NOT gate is a quantum gate that flips the state of a qubit from 0 to 1, or vice versa. The HADAMARD gate is another quantum gate that puts a qubit into a superposition of 0 and 1. By combining different quantum gates in a specific sequence, known as a quantum circuit, it is possible to perform a wide range of calculations on qubits.
A quantum circuit is a sequence of quantum gates that are applied to a set of qubits in order to perform a specific calculation or operation. Quantum circuits are the basic building blocks of quantum algorithms, which are used to solve specific problems on a quantum computer. Just like classical circuits, which are used to perform logical operations on classical bits, quantum circuits are used to manipulate the state of qubits and perform calculations on them. In general, a quantum circuit can be represented as a diagram, where each quantum gate is represented by a specific symbol and the qubits on which it acts are represented by lines. By combining different quantum gates in specific ways, it is possible to create a quantum circuit that can solve a particular problem.
Here is a simple example of how quantum computing can be used to solve a problem.
Imagine you have a list of numbers, and you want to find the number that appears most frequently in the list. With a classical computer, you would have to go through the entire list and keep track of how many times each number appears, which can take a long time if the list is long.
With a quantum computer, however, you can solve this problem much more efficiently. First, you would encode each number in the list as a quantum state. Then, you can use a series of quantum operations, such as quantum gates and quantum measurements, to manipulate these quantum states and find the number that appears most frequently in the list.
Overall, quantum computers can solve certain problems much faster than classical computers because they exploit the unique properties of quantum mechanics, such as superposition and entanglement, to perform calculations.
Currently, quantum computers are not widely available for general use. However, if you are interested in trying out quantum computing, there are a few options available. One option is to use online quantum computing simulators, which allow you to run small quantum programs and see how they would behave on a quantum computer. Some popular online simulators include IBM Q Experience, Rigetti Forest, and Microsoft Quantum Development Kit.
Another option is to use cloud-based quantum computing services, which allow you to run larger quantum programs and perform more complex calculations. These services are typically accessed via APIs and require some programming experience to use. Some popular cloud-based quantum computing services include IBM Q, D-Wave Leap, and Amazon Braket.
Finally, if you are a researcher or developer working in the field of quantum computing, you may have access to physical quantum computers at your institution or through collaborations with other organizations. However, these systems are typically limited in their capabilities and are mainly used for research and development purposes.
ChatGPT. Every word about quantum computing was generated by this new model. ChatGPT is a large language model trained by OpenAI using a variant of the GPT-3 (Generative Pretrained Transformer 3) model. The GPT-3 model is a type of neural network that uses a deep learning algorithm to generate text based on a given input. The model is trained on a large dataset of text, such as books, articles, and web pages, and learns the statistical patterns and structure of the language. When given a piece of input text, the model uses this knowledge to generate a response that is coherent and relevant to the input.
To use ChatGPT, you simply provide some input text and the model will generate a response. The model is designed to be used in a conversational context, so you can provide multiple inputs and the model will generate a response for each one, creating a conversation. The model is also designed to be responsive and to adapt to the content of the conversation, so the responses it generates will be relevant to the input and context.
Just to make sure, this is me now writing a conclusion! Just to underline the impact of what OpenAI has published: 1 million users signed up on their website within 5 days of publishing. That's record-breaking!
Personally, I see a huge potential in areas of application of ChatGPT.
To me, it immediately felt like a potential replacement for some simple Google searches. Why bother with scrolling through Google result pages if I can interactively ask my questions and receive custom answers, precisely targeted at what I am looking for. I can even ask follow-up questions to prior ones! And ChatGPT will answer accordingly, referring correctly to what it has learned from previous interaction.
As I stated before, to me this opens up a world of endless possibilities of areas of application. Think of kids doing some research for their homework, or they forgot to ask their teacher that one important question. ChatGPT will have an immediate and concise answers to those “What is the formula for the radius of a circle?” kind of questions.
Of course, one has to remain critical and not believe everything a machine tells you without a second thought. But that was already the case when doing basic research on the internet. You have to consult multiple sources in order to be able to assert what is correct information, or the truth, for that matter. But ChatGPT will potentially yield you a first result/answer for an on point detailed question much faster than Google will.
One area I see huge potential for is the health care sector. That sector continuously struggles with HR shortage and huge waiting times due to inefficiencies in the system itself. Of course, that is highly dependent on the country you live in. But just imagine I could have a first conversation with ChatGPT about my symptoms and can get a first diagnosis or even an indication if it might be a good idea to consult a doctor or simply take some paracetamol. Naturally, the model would have to be enhanced with a lot of medical data and very thoroughly tested. If done right, it should definitely lighten the patient load on doctors, make more room for people who are actually in need of medical care and give people the feeling of being heard immediately. The personalized experience of being able to ask questions and follow-up questions brings this kind o e-health care to a whole new dimension in my opinion.
Another area could be governmental services. Everybody has had that experience, where something was not right with your tax declaration and inquiries had to be made. At least in the Netherlands, every tax paying citizen needs to declare their income within the same time frame of a few months. And hotlines will run hot for sure, with potentially long waiting times ahead.
But what if the tax office had trained a model based on ChatGPT that could answer a lot of those basic questions, again leaving room on the hotlines for those people that actually have in depth questions that need expert council?
Possibilities are endless, and we are just scratching the surface of what is to come in the future.
What areas of application can you imagine?