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Trends 2022: Quantum Computing

February 24, 2022


Quantum computing may sound like science fiction (especially the weird principles on which it relies); nevertheless, businesses are beginning to pay attention. According to the Venture Beat staff, “Sixty-nine percent of global enterprises have already adopted or plan to adopt quantum computing in the near term, according to a new survey of enterprise leaders commissioned by Zapata Computing. The findings suggest that quantum computing is quickly moving from the fringes and becoming a priority for enterprise digital transformation, as 74% of enterprise leaders surveyed agreed that those who fail to adopt quantum computing will fall behind.”[1] The staff goes on to report, “Adoption thus far is highest in the transportation sector, where 63% of respondents reported being in the early stages of quantum adoption. This may be a reaction to the ongoing supply chain crisis, which quantum could help relieve through its potential to solve complex optimization problems common in shipping and logistics.”


It wasn’t long ago that quantum computers existed only in the minds of computer scientists and physicists. Tech writer Samhitha Sharma insists, “Quantum computing has progressed from an experiment to a tool to an apparatus that is now making advances in the venture to tackle complex issues. Experts accept that the world has gone into the ‘Quantum Decade’.”[2] Although advances are being made every week, I’m not sure this will be the ‘Quantum Decade’; however, the quantum era is rapidly approaching. As tech writer Tristan Greene (@mrgreene1977) notes, “Useful quantum computers have [not] actually arrived yet. They’re still somewhere between a couple years and a couple centuries away. Sorry for being so vague, but when you’re dealing with quantum physics there aren’t yet many guarantees.”[3]


Quantum Computing Trends


Competition Heats Up. Although many articles about the race to develop quantum computers depicts it as a contest between the United States and China, many other countries, including European countries, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Japan, are also making significant progress. Sharma reports, “Governments worldwide have resourced more than US$25 Billion to quantum research and development. Tech giants like IBM, Google, Alibaba, Microsoft Amazon, and different organizations are in the competition to adapt quantum computing as an ordinary tool for business.”


Greater Computing Capacity. Yehuda Naveh (@yehuda_naveh), co-founder and CTO of Classiq, writes, “The number of qubits is not the only way to gauge the power of quantum computers — other factors such as coherence, fidelity and connectivity are just as important — but they provide a good ballpark of the power of quantum computation. Today, the largest quantum computers have dozens of qubits. However, IBM plans to deliver a 1,121-qubit computer by 2023, and others have shared similar plans.”[4] Naveh notes that, once a quantum computer surpasses the 100-qubit threshold, supercomputers can no longer simulate their calculations. As a result, he asks, “If 1,000-qubit computers can no longer be simulated, how can one debug algorithms running on them? Businesses using quantum will need to address this question.”


Limited (but Important) Business Applications. In spite of the corporate world’s interest in quantum computing, science and technology writer Edd Gent (@EddytheGent) observes, “Quantum computing is still a long way from going mainstream. … The technology is still experimental, and has yet to demonstrate its usefulness for solving real-world problems. That milestone might not be so far off, though. Most quantum computing companies are aiming to produce fault-tolerant devices by 2030, which many see as the inflection point that will usher in the era of practical quantum computing. Quantum computers will not be general-purpose machines, though. They will be able to solve some calculations that are completely intractable for current computers and dramatically speed up processing for others. But many of the things they excel at are niche problems, and they will not replace conventional computers for the vast majority of tasks.”[5] He notes the economic sectors most likely to benefit from quantum computing include: Pharmaceutical, chemical, automotive, and financial industries. As noted earlier, the supply chain field could also benefit.


New States of Matter. As I discussed in an earlier article, last year saw the creation of two new states of quantum matter: time crystals and quantum spin liquid.[6] Concerning the former, Greene writes, “[The creation of time crystals] could accelerate the timeline for quantum computing breakthroughs from ‘maybe never’ to ‘maybe within a few decades’.” Concerning the latter, Harvard University scientists write, “The exotic properties from quantum spin liquids could hold the key to creating more robust quantum bits — known as topological qubits — that are expected to be resistant to noise and external interference. ‘That is a dream in quantum computation,’ said Giulia Semeghini, a postdoctoral fellow in the Harvard-Max Planck Quantum Optics Center and lead author of the study. ‘Learning how to create and use such topological qubits would represent a major step toward the realization of reliable quantum computers.’”[7]


Beyond Qubits. Journalist Patrick Tubbs reports, “Rigetti, a company that specializes in quantum computing, has announced that it is testing new hardware configurations that could improve the performance of its quantum processors. The company has turned its qubits into qutrits by adding a third energy state. … Rigetti believes thаt аdding а third stаte to qubits, resulting in а three-level quаntum system bаsed on qutrits, is аnother wаy to boost quаntum mаchine performаnce.”[8]


Concluding Thoughts


Quantum computing is at a crossroads. Naveh explains, “Most quantum work to date has taken place in academia and industry research organizations. That’s because the industry is in an early stage. Plus, current quantum machines cannot yet deliver better results than classical computers. But with increasing qubit count, the business value of quantum will become more reachable, and enterprise deployments will accelerate.” Before quantum computing enters the economic mainstream, the Venture Beat staff asserts, “Hurdles remain.” They explain, “The most commonly cited challenge [from the Zapata Computing survey] was the complexity of integrating quantum with enterprises’ existing IT stack. To solve these challenges, enterprises are turning to quantum vendors — 96% said they need help from a trusted vendor to succeed in their quantum initiatives. However, 73% are concerned about vendor lock-in. The results call for an approach to quantum adoption that prioritizes interoperability with the existing classical IT stack and forward compatibility with future quantum technology.” When quantum computing does enter mainstream operations, Naveh predicts, “Demand for quantum talent and better software platforms will soar.”


[1] Staff, “Report: 69% of enterprises embrace quantum computing,” Venture Beat, 9 January 2022.
[2] Samhitha Sharma, “Quantum Computing in 2022: A Leap Into the Tremendous Future Ahead,” Analytics Insight, 2 January 2022.
[3] Tristan Greene, “Neural’s best quantum computing and physics stories from 2021,” The Next Web, 25 December 2021.
[4] Yehuda Naveh, “What To Expect From Quantum Computing In The Next Two Years,” Forbes, 22 December 2021.
[5] Edd Gent, “These Will Be the Earliest Use Cases for Quantum Computers,” Singularity Hub, 10 January 2022.
[6] Stephen DeAngelis, “Quantum Computing and New States of Matter,” Enterra Insights, 29 December 2021.
[7] Harvard University, “Scientists document the presence of quantum spin liquids, a never-before-seen state of matter,” Nano Werk, 2 December 2021.
[8] Patrick Tubbs, “Forget qubits, everyone’s talking about qutrits these days in quantum computing.” CengNews, 21 December 2021.

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