What does the future hold for quantum computing? Experts explain

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Joe Myers, Writer, Formative Content

  • A World Economic Forum issue briefing on quantum computing explored the technology, where it’s come from and where it’s heading.
  • Experts from academia and industry discussed the challenges, next steps and where we might be in five years and beyond.
  • There’s a lot of uncertainty, but all participants stressed the need for collaboration.

Most of you are probably familiar with computers. But what about quantum computers?

Commercial quantum computers may still be a way off, but Goldman Sachs announced quantum algorithms could price financial instruments in the next five years.

At a World Economic Forum issue briefing, experts from industry and academia looked at the technology – what it is, where it’s come from and where it’s heading.

Taking part were Dario Gil, Senior Vice President and Director Research, IBM; Freeke Heijman, Founding Director at Quantum Delta, NL; Jeremy Jurgens, Managing Director, World Economic Forum; Robert Hackett, Senior Writer, Fortune; John Preskill, Amazon Scholar, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Richard P. FeynmanProfessor of Theoretical Physics, Caltech.

Have you read?

Here are some of the key talking points. You can watch the full session here.

How is a quantum computer different from a regular computer?

“When many particles interact with one another, according to the principles of quantum mechanics, then it turns out it’s extraordinarily complex to describe what those particles are doing using ordinary language or classical computers,” explained John Preskill.

“And so, if we can control how those particles interact, then we should be able to perform information processing tasks that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.”

What could we do with quantum computers?

There’s lots we still don’t know though, said Preskill, including the areas where quantum computers will have a big advantage.

At the moment, the most important applications will be in reference to how matter behaves, chemistry and the discovery of materials, he explained. But, it will still take time to understand how we scale this up, he added.

“It’s not that we understand all the science now, and we just need to put the resources together to do the engineering. We’re going to need a lot of innovation to get to quantum computers that can solve those very impactful problems.”

Equally, though, Preskill emphasized that it’s important to understand we have “very limited ability at this stage to imagine the applications of quantum computing down the road in the near term”. Cybersecurity

What is the Forum doing to avert a cyber pandemic?

Next-generation technologies such as AI, ubiquitous connectivity and quantum computing have the potential to generate new risks for the world, and at this stage, their full impact is not well understood.

There is an urgent need for collective action, policy intervention and improved accountability for government and business in order to avert a potential cyber pandemic.https://www.weforum.org/videos/a-cyber-attack-with-covid-like-characteristics

The Forum’s Centre for Cybersecurity launched the Future Series: Cybercrime 2025 initiative to identify what approaches are required to manage cyber risks in the face of the major technology trends taking place in the near future.

Find out more on how the Forum is leading over 150 global experts from business, government and research institutions, and how to get involved, in our impact story.

Averting a cyber pandemic: how businesses are building a global response to cybersecurity risks

Where do things stand with the technology and where are we headed next?

About five years ago, we were able to build a small quantum computer and make it available through the cloud, explained Dario Gil. And, as a result, we started exposing a growing community to the concept.

Since that point, the number of systems available has grown and “what we’re starting to see is a broad set of institutions getting interested in the topic”.

We need to work to deliver better and better quantum computers and systems every year, he said. “But, it’s very important to bring people along on the journey.” We can’t just say ‘one day we’ll have a magical computer that does all these things’, we need to come together and work through it together, he urged.

Just a few years ago, we used machines with just 5 cubits. But, IBM hopes to build a machine with over 1,000 cubits by 2023, Gil said.

But, the number of cubits alone doesn’t tell you the power of a quantum computer, he added. “The capacity of the machine, how many circuits you can run, the quality with which you can run these circuits. All of those are extraordinarily important.” https://open.spotify.com/embed-podcast/episode/5Q8RWFcBNxCjCyxrIqXiSC

What other factors do we need to consider beyond just the technology?

“What we’re looking at is not only the technological roadmap, but an ecosystem approach,” explained Freeke Heijman. “How do you get the right talent, how to educate the right people to move into the field?”

Investment and capital are also important – and the opportunity exists for start-ups, she believes. Equally, collaboration will be key. “We’re working very closely in a European context,” she said. “For instance, we just signed a memo with the French.”

This Memorandum of Understanding will enable collaboration, but it’s vital it’s not just about high-level policy but concrete action, Heijman emphasized. For example, there’s now a website where you can see all the relevant available jobs in the Netherlands and France.

“We would just like to see as much openness in the ecosystem as possible so that people can connect and build new technology together.”

Of course, it’s still competitive, she said. But, because the industry is still in its early days, there’s already a lot of collaboration and exchanges of ideas and people.

“We’re all looking forward to much better performance, which we’re hoping to achieve both through improvement in the hardware and through software methods for mitigating the imperfections of the hardware,” added Preskill.

“We all want to see those innovations happen and that’ll bring us closer to the day when quantum computing can have a broad impact on humanity.”

The sentiment was echoed by Gill. “I think one of the things that unites all of us is we want to see a quantum industry thrive and be successful… I think we’re all excited about the historical moment that we’re witnessing,” he said.

How can we enable this collaboration in quantum computing?

There are still a lot of unknowns in the field, explained Jeremy Jurgens. That’s why this collaboration is so important. The World Economic Forum has established the Quantum Computing Network, which facilitates collaboration with companies like Amazon, IBM and Microsoft, as well as academic institutions and national governments.

And this extends beyond the technology itself. What are the skills we’ll need? How can we make sure the benefits are extended across society?

“We need to both harness the opportunities in front of us… as we also manage the risks and prepare society more broadly for the significance of the transition,” said Jurgens.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

European Commission: the LED lights of your Audi A6 shall save our planet

A new approach to scaling-up renewable power in emerging markets

Ensure that widows are ‘not left out or left behind’, UN chief urges on International Day

COVID-19 wave III and the lessons learned

Threats from mammoth banks and Brussels fuel May’s poll rates

EU and Amazon cut deal to end antitrust investigation over e-books deals

MEPs urge EU countries to be transparent about their COVID-19 vaccine supplies

Here’s how private investors can turn plastic into gold

Still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in all EU countries

Africa is set to get its first vertical forest

‘Millions facing starvation’ – Global political and business leaders on the economic impact of COVID-19

How the gender commuting gap could be harming women’s careers

Will 2020 be the year blockchain overcomes its hype?

Progress in medical research: leading or lagging behind?

Bacteria vs. humans: how to fight in this world war?

The future of energy is being shaped in Asia

What we know and what we don’t know about universal basic income

The first new university in the UK for 40 years is taking a very different approach to education

OECD household income up 0.7% in first quarter of 2018, outpacing GDP growth

First seat projections for the next European Parliament

The energy industry is changing. Are governments switched on?

What is the IMF telling Eurozone about fiscal and banking unification?

Trump ‘used’ G20 to side with Putin and split climate and trade packs

Re-thinking citizenship education: bringing young people back to the ballot box

Commission issues guidance on the participation of third country bidders in the EU procurement market

Car rentals: EU action leads to clearer and more transparent pricing

What’s going on in Chernobyl today?

Here’s how we get businesses to harmonize on climate change

Why are the Balkans’ political leaders meeting in Geneva this week?

Support for EU remains at historically high level despite sceptics

US pardons for accused war criminals, contrary to international law: UN rights office

European Business Summit 2015: In search of a vision for the future

Brexit casts a shadow over the LSE – Deutsche Börse merger: a tracer of how or if brexit is to be implemented

Migrants and refugees face higher risk of developing ill-health, says UN report on displaced people in Europe

Autumn 2019 Standard Eurobarometer: immigration and climate change remain main concerns at EU level

Stop the waste: UN food agencies call for action to reduce global hunger

The term AI overpromises. Let’s make machine learning work better for humans instead

How blended finance helped to keep energy supplies flowing during COVID-19

What will a post-pandemic economy look like? Here’s what chief economists expect

Innovation is the key to the pay-TV industry’s long-term growth

Mergers: Commission approves GlaxoSmithKline’s acquisition of Pfizer’s Consumer Health Business, subject to conditions

Coronavirus: Commission launches call for innovative response and recovery partnerships between EU regions

Parliament names radio studio after journalists murdered in December attack

4 things to know about the state of conflict today

World-famous cultural institutions closed due to coronavirus are welcoming virtual visitors

As Houthi forces withdraw from key Yemeni ports, UN monitoring chief welcomes ‘first practical step on the ground’

Get out, stay out: how financial resilience helps end poverty

The ‘ASEAN way’: what it is, how it must change for the future

30 years of tissue engineering, what has been achieved?

Businesses are lacking moral leadership, according to employees

Mental health and suicide prevention

‘Perseverance is key’ to Iraq’s future, UN envoy tells Security Council

Belgium: Youth Forum takes legal step to ban unpaid internships

European Commission recommends common EU approach to the security of 5G networks

The Future of Balkans: Embracing Education

The European Parliament fails to really restrict the rating agencies

Gas pipeline in the European Union. (Copyright: EU, 2012 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Ferenc Isza)

EU Investment Bank approves € 1.5bn loan for Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP)

Could Europe become the first climate-neutral continent?

Venezuela’s needs ‘significant and growing’ UN humanitarian chief warns Security Council, as ‘unparalleled’ exodus continues

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s