The world is “running out” of computing capacity: Microsoft CEO

Microsoft chief Satya Nadella has warned that quantum computing is needed to handle the processing power required for today’s tech developments.

Nadella told delegates at the Davos forum how the celebrated Moore’s Law (that the processing power of computer chips doubles every two years) was “running out of steam”. As such, quantum computing would be required if we are “to create all of these rich experiences we talk about, all of this artificial intelligence.”

Quantum computers would be exponentially more powerful than their current counterparts, because they’d rely more on quantum theory than modern-day electronics. The difference being that modern computers work on bits that can be either 0 or 1, to represent off and on. A quantum computer, on the other hand, would use a state known as a superposition, where bits could be both 0 and 1 at the same time – which turns them into ‘qubits’.

Though this may sound like the preserve of sci-fi, physicists at D-Wave have already created a quantum computer, but there is scepticism about how fast it really is. What’s more, the fact that it’s bulky, needs cooling to absolute zero (-273.15C) and must be free from electromagnetic interference is somewhat inhibiting – and that’s even before you factor in the $10 million price tag.

In his speech, Nadella also took aim at re-skilling programmes, aimed those whose jobs have been lost (or may be lost in future) to technology. Arguing that these courses were not fit for purpose, Nadella suggested a shift from giving people skills in other, already existing roles, to instead equip them with the skills and understanding needed to thrive in a world of augmented reality.

He didn’t stop there. Nadella also called for schools to better equip pupils with the requirements of today’s tech world, and to update curriculums according to the times. “The fact that most curricula in schools still don’t recognise computer science like they do maths or physics is just crazy,” he said. “We need middle school teachers of computer science of the highest quality.”