The Quantum Internet

Computer scientist and physicist Stephanie Wehner wants to create a new quantum internet, swapping bits for the qubits.

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The internet is 31 years old and to mark the occasion earlier this month, Sir Tim Berners-Lee warned that the internet “was not working for women and girls” and aimed to tackle the “growing crisis” of online abuse. Could a new “quantum internet” be the answer?

There’s no doubt the internet has provided us with a vast array of opportunities and information. But infrastructure is inconsistent on a global scale. Data accessibility isn’t as cheap in Asian and African countries where interconnectivity is important. Computer scientist Stephanie Wehner thinks the solution is a quantum internet. Quanta Magazine’s Natalie Wolchover wrote a piece on the professor who works at QuTech, a quantum computing research centre in the Delft University of Technology.

A quantum internet is a fascinating concept. Wehner agrees, particularly with the unpredictability of networks transmitting data and how a quantum version could solve its problems:

The unpredictability of networks is something that has always fascinated me. Computers are interesting, but what I really care about is transmitting data from one point to another. This is the reason why I got into hacking, and why I got interested in the classical internet and gaining access to it in the first place.

To combat data transmission issues, the quantum internet would use quantum bits or “qubits” which can be 0 and 1 rather than the binary bits we use in current computing.

Wolchover remarked that “the ability to send qubits from one place to another over fiber-optic cables might not transform society as thoroughly as the classical internet, but it would once again revolutionize many aspects of science and culture, from security to computing to astronomy.”

Quantum physics has always been a passive wonder to me and the reason I took physics at college (I dropped it after my first year because the mechanics put me off). I also love the Internet. I look forward to finding out more about this as it develops.

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