The speed of an electromagnetic wave is limited to approximately 3*10^8m/s relativistically. What this implies is that if humans decide to colonize the galaxy or even the solar system, there will be a communication lag ranging from minutes to tens of thousands of years, even if we use the most sophisticated communication technology available today because fundamentally the signal itself will never be able to travel faster than the speed of light. Even on Earth when you talk to someone on another continent in real time, for example, the signals are sent through a very long and complicated process using some of five methods (cable, communication satellites, radio, fiber optics, and voice over internet protocol). There are actually huge cables in the sea that allow continents to communicate digitally in real time. There are billions of dollars of infrastructure, which hang by a very delicate balance, that allow all the communication that happens today. Even this process, from Earth to Earth, creates a time lag and this time lag is very important for us as a species.
If you are on Mars, which is pretty probable by 2050, you’ll never be able to talk to someone on Earth in real time. If you send a voice note or a message, it will take between four to twenty-four minutes for it to reach Earth depending on where Mars is. The message you’ll receive will take another four to twenty-four minutes, created a maximum possible time lag of nearly fifty minutes and that’s just Mars. What this means for humans and maybe you (if you decide to move to Mars) is that there will be no internet on Mars that is connected to the internet on Earth. Mars will have to have its own internet because imagine how frustrating it will be to wait tens of minutes before anything you click creates a response. This is like moving away from your city before phones were invented. The only way you could talk to your loved ones was through letters and there was no way to know if they at the very least received your letters. That’s a truly disturbing thought. Going to Mars means going away from the rest of humanity for good in a sense. Never being able to talk to your family on call, only sending and receiving videos or messages once in a while. But, don’t be sad yet, where there is a problem there is a solution. Information Teleportation.
This is where the quantum internet comes in.
Recently IBM created one of the world’s first true quantum computers and researchers at IBM are extending properties of quantum particles to the world and more excitingly to our digital world.
In the quantum world particles can get entangled. Two particles can get connected through a higher dimension and if you flip one, the other one will flip instantly irrespective of their distance of separation. Quantum (meaning very small) world operates very differently than our world. Particles can be in two or more places at the same time. Some electrons that should be in the atoms that make your body have a calculable probability of being on the moon right now.
Since quantum computers work with quantum bits, they can identify these quantum flips and react accordingly. This would create an Internet that has 0 lag time. Everything will become instant. There will be no need to use satellites for communication. The internet as we know it will fundamentally change. This will happen within twenty years in the most developed countries and within forty years it will be common in 2nd world countries.
There can be companies built on this idea that set up quantum computers in major cities and allow extremely fast internet access to the general population. The money that will be saved is truly monumental. Today every pipe in every ocean has to be maintained. If one connection has an issue, there is usually a domino effect that leads to internet cut off to a massive number of people. Removing the need to physically send signals will create the next generation of the internet. Humans can become a universe-wide civilization and still be truly connected. Quantum internet is coming and it is going to change our lives in ways we can’t imagine yet.