Quantum Computing: Gimmick or Real?

I am not an expert about quantum computing but I have always wondered if this was just a buzz word with really no business case substantiation.  Clearly, this pre-judgement was incorrect.  After attending a talk —  hosted by the Churchill Club in San Francisco — I now believe that Quantum Computing is really happening today with significant business applications for the future.

You can catch the video from this event here: Quantum Computing: From Physicist’s Dream to Business Reality

The best definition I have found about this product category is from IBM as they classify this as “incredibly powerful machines that take a new approach to processing information. Built on the principles of quantum mechanics, they exploit complex and fascinating laws of nature that are always there, but usually remain hidden from view. By harnessing such natural behavior, quantum computing can run new types of algorithms to process information more holistically. They may one day lead to revolutionary breakthroughs in materials and drug discovery, the optimization of complex manmade systems, and artificial intelligence.”

In an effort to establish mindshare about the inevitable readiness of quantum computing, IBM sponsored the event and showcased their Q product which resembles a working unit that they already have in the marketplace with customers accessing Q’s quantum capabilities from the cloud.

Here are some of the key things that I took away from this event:

  • The beauty of Quantum Computing is the ability to recreate or simulate nature that could never be possible with traditional computing.
  • For example, quantum computers may be able to demystify the molecular breakup of a coffee bean and determine if it is healthy or unhealthy for you.
  • Classical computing (or x86 computing) will co-exist with Quantum computing.
  • The hardware for quantum computing has to be right THEN the software will come, hence, hardware is the first priority in the industry.
  • Getting the temperature right will be key for the hardware.
  • If you are a low temperature physicist, you may be a hot commodity in the quantum computing hardware market.
  • We are probably about 5 years away (if not more) before Quantum Computing becomes a real business that solves real world problems.
  • Business leaders should assign someone on their team to get smart about this field and ascertain if there could be any implications to their business.  Not doing so could mean being disrupted.

IBM has publicly  stated they expect Quantum Computing to open up doors would have perhaps never been open.  I look forward to watching and reading more about this space and seeing how these super high performance computers make the impossible possible.

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