View from India: What’s Next for Quantum Computing?


Work-from-home (WFH) automation and touchless procedures, much needed during the pandemic, have spurred quantum innovation. The WHF may have diminished, but the exploration of new possibilities with quantum computing continues.

Quantum computing is not new, but its commercialization is fairly recent. Looking back, 2016 could probably be considered the pre-commercialization phase of quantum computing. It looked like a scam to affected investors and end-users then. Since then, the ground is being prepared to raise awareness of the technology.

“The pandemic has fueled quantum innovation to address challenges around supply chain management and a distributed workforce. Therefore, there is additional pressure on automation and a favorable hybrid working environment. Now we need to take the technology to the next frontier,” said Dr. Eric Holland, business development manager, quantum at Keysight Technologies, speaking at the Keysight World Innovate event held virtually.

Quantum is not a plug-and-play technology, but it can be used to mitigate many current issues like climate change. 5G networks and AI-driven designs could be among the upcoming requirements for innovation in quantum technology. Industry, academia and government may need to come together to explore quantum applications.

Patrick Moorhead, futurist at Moor Insights & Strategy, elaborated. “What might be interesting is that every time a qubit is added, it doubles the power of quantum computing. This feature allows him to solve complex problems. From research to development, quantum computing can solve breakthroughs in weather forecasting. The quantum computing market could be disruptive over the next five to ten years,” he explained.

Quantum computing is here and it needs to move from the lab to commercial use. Once that happens, there could be many changes. For example, there will be an increased demand for complex and connected intelligent systems. Software quality and AI functionality should be improved. Businesses could probably start planning from now and map out a quantum roadmap for quantum to impact enterprise solutions.

Software vendors have started creating software for quantum computers that can support simulations and cryptography. “Quantum computers are not going to replace classical systems. They will collaborate, work with them in order to solve these intractable problems,” explained Robert Loredo, IBM Quantum Ambassador, Global Head and Qiskit Advocate.

You need to understand how companies are integrating quantum technology into their systems, otherwise they could fall behind. A start would be to make resources available. Perhaps a quantum workforce could bridge the gap between research and development. This could happen by reskilling the existing workforce. Quantum adoption can happen through hackathons and by establishing quantum centers in educational institutions. Physicists could be encouraged to set up laboratories to experiment with quantum systems. Developers and experts could interact to create applications in quantum computing and derive short-term use cases that could shed light on this. A big problem could be taken and broken down into fundamentals. This could become a proof of concept project. Next, it is essential to develop a quantum-ready workforce to use and program quantum computers and write quantum algorithms and high-performance computing architecture.

“The focus is on quantum machine learning, quantum simulation, and quantum-inspired computing. From a business perspective, investments can go towards improving encryption and risk profiling,” Loredo explained.

Quantum applications could be diverse, ranging from quantum cryptography to quantum sensing. Quantum computing is an accelerator for supply chain operations and smart cities, where the focus is on reducing energy consumption. Mapping technology for business needs is still under development.

As for job openings, quantum service in cybersecurity could be a possible opening. Quantum vendors, another avenue to research, include tools for building and testing quantum computers. In the case of electric vehicles, quantum can be used to improve battery efficiency. A quantum computer programmer is also an option. A talent pool can be created with people with expertise in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) as well as proficiency in programming languages.

“Quantum computing does not yet have its flagship application, so this could be an opportunity to create quantum computing applications for various applications such as solar cells, fusion energy and personalized medicine. quantum technology to mitigate future risks may seem difficult. This is because the ‘if’ stage would have to be replaced by the ‘when’ stage, otherwise we risk missing the quantum wave,” warned futurist Sophie Hackford .

But then, is the market developed for quantum computing? “Quantum Computing [can] with work…by some of the smart people joining me here…making supply chains more efficient and potentially changing the world,” according to Daniel Newman, principal analyst at Futurum Research. Scale, quality and speed are the strengths of quantum computers, he noted. “To many, quantum computing might seem similar to artificial intelligence (AI), because AI manages our schedules and helps with better decision-making. Quantum computing might seem similar to AI functions, but the real needs of the business must match the quantum machines,” he observed.

A fundamental understanding of quantum measurement capability may be required to build a system. It should be marketed and monetized for generating revenue streams. Marketing is the signal of conversational electronics. To give an example, most of us don’t care how our cell phone works. We only react when it doesn’t work.

A futuristic twist could be on how quantum capabilities can be democratized. It may pay to pause and explore the emerging use cases, and weigh the pros and cons of this engineering marvel.

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