Speaking at the International Conference for Quantum Technologies in Moscow yesterday afternoon, Professor Vladimir Shalaev of Purdue University shared some incredibly compelling figures on how our relationship with information has changed as computers improve.
In what he terms the “evolution of an information society,” the amount of hard drive space people require to store their digital lives is growing at quite a click.
In 1986, the average person had just 500 megabytes to his or her name.
By 2007, this number ballooned to 44.5 gigabytes, an 8,800% increase over 21 years.
For an individual’s purposes, 44.5 GB isn’t considered an especially large amount of data today. But consider this – cloud services are quickly becoming a primary means for people to store their data on a single server. If you’re a large company like Google, managing 44.5 GB of data per person becomes a tricky task when you have a few hundred million customers.
Here’s where the quantum side of things comes in.
Quantum computers have proven to be especially capable at solving problems in a branch of mathematics known as optimization. This is a process of computationally finding the best possible answer from a vast set of potential answers. Because quantum computers are able to parallel process many, many different approaches to an optimization problem at the same time, they could drastically reduce the amount of time needed to sort through the seas of data we create every day and may very well revolutionise the Big Data industry.