Andrew Fursman: Why IT leaders should be paying attention to quantum computing — now
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Andrew Fursman: Why IT leaders should be paying attention to quantum computing — now


My name’s Andrew Fursman. I’m the CEO of 1QBit. I like to think about what’s happening with quantum computers as being just on a different scaling curve for different classes of problems. I know that it’s always tempting and everyone wants to know like, ‘What’s faster, this classical computer or this quantum computer, and when will this quantum computer be faster than this classical computer?’ But what’s really exciting is that now that people have started to get to the point where they can produce larger and larger numbers of qubits, the scaling that we’re seeing for quantum computers, as we think about that computational resource from a classical perspective, seems beyond the exponential scaling of Moore’s law. And it’s actually this incredibly steep scaling that is challenging to know where it will end and what the current limitations are for any particular method of building and connecting qubits together. But what we do know is that it’s evolved in some sort of process that is scaling right now and it’s scaling past anything that we know how to simulate with a classical machine. So we’re kind of into this unknown era. For the very first time I think this year we’ll probably see problems that are designed to be exactly the kind of problems that small quantum computers can answer but where we’ll be able to get answers that would never really be possible with a classical machine. Quantum computing is not something that is at a stage today where we’re seeing tons and tons of applications that are just blowing away classical machines. So the question I guess is, why should I be paying attention when it’s not yet the best possible way to solve this problem? And I think the answer is because if you’re interested in understanding what these machines are good for and if you especially exist in an industry where these computers are likely to have an impact, the wrong time to start paying attention is that crossover point when all of a sudden, for the first time, a quantum computer is the best way to do something in your industry and you don’t understand it at all. Because what we are seeing is that the scaling, if it continues the way it has been over the last little bit, there’s never actually going to be this equilibrium moment, or at least it will be such a short moment. Because there are two different graphs and one will cross over, and once it crosses over there’s really never another time when we expect that classical machines will be the way to solve these sorts of problems. So that moment of ‘quantum supremacy’ may have actually already occurred. It’s exciting because even though the problems that people are working on on these quantum devices are not yet industrially relevant problems just having something where for the first time we can do something with a quantum computer that no amount of available classical simulation can emulate on a classical system means that we are in this new uncharted realm and that’s really exciting.

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