The field of quantum computing is growing rapidly as many of today's leading computing groups, universities, colleges, and all the leading IT vendors are researching the topic. This pace is expected to increase as more research is turned into practical applications. Although practical machines lie years in the future, this formerly fanciful idea is gaining plausibility.
The current challenge is not to build a full quantum computer right away; instead to move away from the experiments in which we merely observe quantum phenomena to experiments in which we can control these phenomena. Systems in which information obeys the laws of quantum mechanics could far exceed the performance of any conventional computer. Therein lies the opportunity and the reward. No one can predict when we will build the first quantum computer; it could be this year, perhaps in the next 10 years, or centuries from now. Obviously, this mind-boggling level of computing power has enormous commercial, industrial, and scientific applications, but there are some significant technological and conceptual issue to resolve first.
But quantum computers will come.