Quantum computers use the natural world to produce machines with staggeringly powerful processing potential.

We could use quantum computers to simulate molecules to build new drugs and new materials, and to solve problems plaguing physicists for decades. Wall Street could use them to optimize portfolios, simulate economic forecasts and for complex risk analysis. Quantum computing could also help scientists speed up discoveries in adjacent fields like machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft, plus a host of smaller companies such as Rigetti and D-Wave, are all betting big on quantum.

“How many of your billions would you give over for an extra 10 years of life?” said Martin Reynolds, an analyst with Gartner who covers quantum computing. “So you could see there are some simply astonishing financial opportunities in quantum computing. This is why there’s so much interest, even though it’s so far down the road.”

But nothing is ever a sure thing. And dealing with the quirky nature of quantum physics creates some big hurdles for this nascent technology. Is quantum truly the next big thing in computing? Or is it destined to become something more like nuclear fusion—destined to always be the technology of the future, never the present?

Watch the video above to learn more about quantum computing and how tech companies hope to use the technology in the far and near future.

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