The term Quantum Computing sparks the imagination about the limits of speed and the ability to simulate, optimize and predict future events. The scope of Quantum Computing inspires a marvel-like awe and anticipation similar to when Marvel superhero Doctor Strange was observing future possibilities trying to predict all the different ways to defeat arguably their greatest enemy.
Marvel movies aside, if you speak to someone in the field of Quantum Computing, you hear terms such as qubits, entanglement and the quantum world versus the classical world. It is this last term that I found particularly odd. I think most would agree the practical application of Quantum Computing would be classified as a major innovation! So I began to think of other areas in which the term classical was used to compare and contrast innovation. There was, of course, the battle between New Coke vs Classic Coke, but that doesn’t seem to apply here. There was also the evolution of Classic ASP to more modern .NET development, but that really doesn’t spark the imagination either. I even thought about how certain items are considered classical and others are just considered old outdated remnants of the past. As none of these comparisons really shined a light on how Quantum Computing will be used, I began to dig deeper to get further insights into Quantum Computing’s impact on everyday challenges.
I turned my attention back to leaders in the field of Quantum Programming and realized they literally start with a foundational principal that items and behavior in the “classic world” (that is, our world) do not follow the same set of rules. For one thing, in the classical world, in most situations there are clear limits to scope. Unlike a standard Statement Of Work, the idea of in-scope versus out-of-scope is peculiar in the quantum world, because of concepts like superposition. Superposition can be defined as an ambiguous state. For instance, in the quantum world a particle can be thought of as both a 1 and a 0 simultaneously.
Despite the bizarre phenomena and differences between the quantum world and the classical world, most major cloud providers have invested in building out services to support the advancement of quantum computing, including:
- Azure Quantum: A set of Quantum services on the Azure platform that are now in preview
- Amazon Quantum Solutions Lab: A set of services and a collaborative research program to help get ready for the growth of Quantum Computing
- Google Quantum: A research effort from Google AI that aims to build quantum processors and develop quantum algorithms to dramatically accelerate computational tasks for machine learning
How and when will Quantum Computing be relevant to our “Real World?” Though the general consensus is that Quantum Computing may not be appropriate for all types of problems, a number of large organizations are predicting that Quantum Computing will support use case in areas such as Cybersecurity, financial and traffic modeling and Artificial Intelligence. In fact, the IBM Quantum website mentions the IBM Q Network now includes over 100 organizations across multiple industries including Delta Air Lines, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo as being among the latest organizations to begin exploring practical applications using Quantum Computing.
The amount of investment and excitement in Quantum Computing is increasing at an extremely fast pace. In fact, a few are declaring the 2020s as the decade of quantum systems. So, as far as the question “when?” is considered, the answer maybe “sooner than you think.”