Quantum computers, which overshadow the performance of conventional computers, could find their way into our everyday work in the not too distant future – so it is high time for students to take a look at which jobs are emerging as a result. Our columnist already has a few ideas.
The quantum computers are coming – and with them new job profiles!
You have probably heard of quanta before. Sounds kind of ugly and evokes repressed memories of the physics class. However: The developments in the field of quantum computers could soon also be part of your everyday work. So what is a quantum computer? In contrast to normal computers, as found in your smartphone or laptop, quantum computers not only know the states “one” and “zero”, but also an intermediate position in which the two states are equally likely. Likely?
Quantum computers: that’s what technology is all about
The Austrian quantum physicist Erwin Schroedinger carried out a thought experiment that illustrates this state. Imagine there is a small cat in a box. Next to the cat is a container that contains a radioactive material that will eventually decay. As soon as the first atom decays, it sets in motion a mechanism that releases hydrogen cyanide and kills the cat. But now you do not know when exactly the first atom will decay. As long as the box is closed, the cat is dead and alive for you at the same time.
Quantum computers use this form of simultaneity – and it makes them potentially much more powerful than all supercomputers currently out there. Many experts in research and industry hope that this potential can now be realized. Because with conventional computers, the rate of increase in performance continues to decrease. While the computing power on a chip of the same size has doubled every two years for decades – this is also known as Moor’s Law – this leap now takes more and more time. The reason: The production of chips simply reaches its physical limits . There will only be significant leaps in performance with a new chip design.
Students should look at which jobs are created by quantum technology
Quantum computers are one of the most promising approaches for advancing into completely new spheres of computer performance. The development is still in a very early phase. For the foreseeable future, you will not be able to purchase a laptop powered by quantum technology in the electronics store. The next iPhone will probably not contain a quantum chip either. But: The first steps towards applications are currently being made. A few weeks ago, the first quantum computer in Europe was inaugurated near Stuttgart . It’s called “Quantum System One” and was developed by IBM.
Initially, it should be used by researchers from the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft – later on, economic applications should follow. Therefore, especially for students and young professionals, now is the right time to take a closer look at which job profiles will be boosted by quantum technology and which new job profiles could emerge.
Quantum Job # 1: Cyber Security Expert
We all deal with a multitude of passwords every day, which we have put together more or less professionally from numbers, letters and characters. Everyone knows: the more complicated the combination, the more secure the password. Even if not all act accordingly: The most popular passwords in Germany in 2020 were “123456”, “123456789” and “password”.
The idea behind this form of encryption is that combinations of numbers, letters and characters lead relatively quickly to such a large number of possibilities that they cannot be decrypted by simple trial and error. Now, however, quantum computers are appearing on the scene. It should be easy for them to crack this combinatorial form of encryption – and that in the not too distant future!
In the next few years, companies and government organizations must prepare for this new quantum age of cybersecurity and prepare themselves against attacks. At the same time, quantum-based forms of encryption will be developed. This race will offer many exciting career opportunities.
Quantum job # 2: drug and materials researcher
Most of the materials and drugs that are of use to us humans have been discovered or developed in laboratories over the past centuries and decades. The “low hanging fruits” have already been picked. In other words: We already know the things that could be discovered and developed with reasonable effort and that generate a great deal of income.
If we want to get any further here, we have to make extremely complex simulations of chemical and biological processes. Conventional computers sometimes fail to calculate such models at the molecular level. Quantum computers, which are particularly suitable for such calculations, could change that. Wherever biology, chemistry and medicine meet knowledge in the field of quantum technology, highly sought-after job profiles will emerge.
Quantum job # 3: System and process control expert
Supercomputers also regularly fail when analyzing highly complex systems such as traffic flows or industrial manufacturing processes. Quantum computers offer the potential to make complex systems more efficient, error-free and easier to control. Anyone who combines knowledge of production and processes with an understanding of quantum technology shouldn’t have to worry about a well-paid job for the foreseeable future.