With the unique ability to crunch stacks of data already optimizing the routes of thousands of fuel tankers traversing the globe, helping decide which ICU patients require the most urgent care, and mimicking chemical processes at the atomic level to better design new materials, etc. – Quantum Computing and Solutions are set to transform pretty much everything. Quantum also promises to supercharge artificial intelligence with the power to better train algorithms that can finally turn driverless cars and drone taxis into a reality. Further, Quantum AI simulations exhibit a “ degree of effectiveness and efficiency that is mind-boggling ” says U.S. National Cyber Director Chris Inglis.
Some quantum early adopters are asset-management firms that include quantum calculations to improve risk assessment, probability of an outcome, etc. For example, Multiverse Computing has run successful pilot projects with enterprises like BASF and Bosch that show its quantum algorithms can double foreign-exchange trading profits and catch almost four times as many production-line defects. “ Quantum deep-learning algorithms are completely different from classical ones ” says Multiverse CEO Enrique Lizaso Olmos. “ You can train them faster, try more strategies, and they are much better at getting the correlations that matter from a lot of data.” Tech giants including Google, Amazon, Alibaba and various quantum computing startups, plus an expanding number of Solution providers — are making significant progress to commercialize the technology. The global quantum-computing industry is projected to grow from $412 million in 2020 to $8.6 billion in 2027, according to an International Data Corp. analysis.
Whereas traditional computers rely on binary “ bits ” — switches either on or off, denoted as 1s and 0s — to process information, the “ qubits ” that underpin quantum computing are tiny subatomic particles that can exist in some percentage of both states simultaneously (like a coin spinning in midair). This leap from dual to multivariate processing exponentially boosts computing power. Complex problems that currently can take traditional supercomputers days, weeks, months or years could potentially be solved in seconds or minutes with a quantum computer. Extending on this, quantum computers could open up new frontiers in mathematics and science to fast-track understanding and addressing challenges with climate change, food security, etc.
“ People describe quantum as a new space race,” says Dan O’Shea, operations manager for Inside Quantum Technology, an industry publication. In October, U.S. President Joe Biden indicated ”Quantum is vital to our economy and equally important to our national security ”. “ This technology is going to be the next industrial revolution” says Tony Uttley, president and COO for Quantinuum, a Colorado-based firm that offers commercial quantum applications. “ It’s like the beginning of the internet or the early days of classical computing “.
Quantum, like nature, utilizes molecules — the building blocks of the universe — where multiple atoms are bound together by electrons that exist as part of each. The way these electrons essentially occupy two states at once is what quantum particles replicate, presenting applications for natural and material sciences by predicting how drugs interact with the human body, or substances perform under corrosion. This contrasts with traditional computing which makes calculated guesses or trial and error iterations to determine the outcomes – versus – quantum, which by mirroring the natural world, produces results quickly by design.
There are many opportunities to improve outcomes with quantum. For example, at BMW, creating a new car model from scratch takes at least 4 years that starts with designers using computer-aided tools for vehicle styling and specifications to sketch an exterior that combines beauty with practicality. Next, a scale model is carved in clay and placed in a wind tunnel to assess aerodynamics. After countless decisions on interior, engine performance, etc. comes the ultimate test – a prototype is driven at 35 mph. into the test wall to assess safety performance in a crash. Should the car fail to meet various safety criteria, it’s back to the drawing board ! With Quantum it’s different whereby accurately predicting how complex materials of different shapes will perform under stress. “Robust simulated crash tests can save up to 6 months ” says Carsten Sapia, VP of Strategy, Governance, and IT security at BMW Group, which has partnered with French quantum firm Pasqal. In addition, Sapia indicated “ Quantum computing will also help us find the new optimum between design, maximum interior space, and best aerodynamics ”. These are significant benefits. Sapia says finding uses for the technology is easy; the challenge will be ensuring that all divisions of BMW are able to utilize it. One improvement is for BMW to communicate from Europe to its cars in China for driving software maintenance and monitoring. “ In the future, we will rely on everywhere in the world having access to quantum technology to run our business ” Sapia says.
Over the past several years quantum has moved up in importance on the national and corporate strategic priority list. To date, 17 countries have national quantum strategies and four more are developing them. China has invested an estimated $25 billion in quantum research since the mid-1980s, according to Quantum Computing Report. Its top quantum scientist, Pan Jianwei, led the launch of the world’s first quantum satellite in 2016 and in 2021 unveiled a then record-breaking 56-qubit quantum computer. China’s 14th Five-Year Plan, published in March 2021, made mastery of quantum a policy priority. “ The blurred line between industry and national security in China gives them an advantage ” says David Spirk, former chief data officer at the US Dept. of Defense.
In response, the White House in May published a National Security Memorandum that ordered all federal agencies to transition to post-quantum security owing to “ significant risks to economic and national security ”. Given that upgrading critical infrastructure can take decades, and literally everything connected to the internet is at risk, the impetus is to act now. “ We realized that while quantum is good for humanity and business, unfortunately there are people with another agenda (ie: security threats, weaponizing systems, etc.) ” says Skip Sanzeri, founder and COO of QuSecure, a post-quantum cybersecurity firm enlisted by the U.S. military and federal government to handle what he says could be a $1 trillion cybersecurity upgrade.
Of the over $30 billion spent globally on quantum in 2022, according to the World Economic Forum, China accounted for roughly half and the E.U. almost a quarter. By comparison, the U.S. National Quantum Initiative invested just $1.2 billion of $1 trillion in total defense spending ! The stakes are high. Today, practically all cybersecurity — whether WhatsApp messages, bank transfers, or digital handshakes—is based on RSA, an asymmetric cryptography algorithm used to safely transfer data. But while a regular computer needs billions of years to crack RSA, a fast quantum computer would take just hours. In December, a team of scientists in China published a paper that claimed it had a quantum algorithm that could break RSA with a 372-qubit computer. Because of this, the race is on for much better system security. In some ways, it’s already too late. Even though quantum computers powerful enough to crack RSA are a few years away from being openly available, hackers are already seizing and storing sensitive data in the knowledge that they will be able to access it via quantum very soon. This is resulting in every day you don’t have a quantum-safe security protocol, there’s a growing system integrity and recovery issue + an increasing corporate liability exposure !
To understanding what quantum computing is, consider the following –
With quantum computing being new, concerns around security, the risks associated with change, etc. – there is a need for people to become aware and comfortable with it and build trust. Like we trust classical computers in part because we can verify their computations with pen and paper. But quantum computers involve physics and dealing with complex problems that makes traditional verification difficult. For now, it’s possible to simulate many quantum calculations on a traditional super-computer to check the outcome. But there will be a need to trust a quantum computer for what it is – like with learning to trust classical computers, electronic calculators, etc. in the past.