What is Quantum Computing?

By Brandy Lea

Remember the days of impatiently waiting for someone to hang up the telephone in order to plug in a bulky computer, initiate a dial-up internet connection, listen to the staticky sound, awaiting connection, and finally, hearing “you’ve got mail”?  Since that time, technology has advanced significantly. But despite the advancement, the operation speed and data storage capacity remain limited. Quantum computing holds the potential to overcome these limits, but what is it and what does it mean for the legal profession? 

According to Yk Sugi, a  quantum computer is “a type of computer that uses quantum mechanics so that it can perform certain kinds of computation more efficiently than a regular computer can.”  A quantum computer’s performance has a significant advantage over the performance of a regular computer because it uses Quantum information, which is part of quantum mechanics, a branch of physics.  Its principles are used to develop computer technology that is light years faster than a regular computer and is capable of storing and manipulating massive amounts of data. 

These technologies have the potential to disrupt the legal profession because they can quickly perform extremely complex tasks and improve efficiencies at a speed and scale human lawyers could not hope to achieve  Although some of these tasks are administrative,  far more sophisticated tasks are possible.  Quantum-powered artificial intelligence could, for example, draw analogies between cases, principles, and design legal arguments from relevant case law.  Despite the anxiety that lawyers are already feeling about the future of the legal profession, quantum computing may benefit them by eliminating many of the mundane tasks allowing them to center on the more personal and creative aspects of the profession. 

Wayne Gretzky, the greatest hockey player ever, once said “I’m not a big risk-taker.  I stay away from things I don’t know anything about.”  Today, many practicing lawyers feel the same way about legal technology.. But, the more a lawyer knows about and understands this new technology, the more likely it may be that excitement could replace their fears. 

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