STORY INLINE POST
While companies are still trying to understand and scale the implementation of artificial intelligence in our businesses, learning and restructuring as we go, a trend is cooking in the oven that, combined with generative artificial intelligence (gen-AI), points to an unprecedented revolution: quantum computing.
I know it sounds far away and like science fiction but beware of indifference and procrastination because artificial intelligence is accelerating this trend and it will turn many sectors around in the next 10 years.
AI and quantum computing, two cutting-edge technologies, are on a collision course, promising an unprecedented leap in computational capabilities and problem-solving prowess. Indifference to this “twin trend” may go beyond an opportunity cost. The impact of its combination will be far more transformative than any known industrial revolution in history. That's why the big tech companies are investing in parallel: they know that if they stay out, they run the risk of disappearing in the long term. It's not about evolution, it's a revolution. A silent revolution. Let’s break it down.
What is Quantum Computing?
Quantum computing is an exciting field of computer science that relies on a fundamentally different means of processing and storing information than today’s classical computers use. The reason is that the information does not obey the laws of traditional mechanics but harnesses the principles of quantum mechanics to manipulate quantum bits, or qubits, which can represent multiple states simultaneously. In other words: while regular computers use bits to store and manipulate data, which are like on/off switches represented by 0s and 1s, quantum computers use qubits, which can represent both 0 and 1 at the same time. Quantum computers leverage phenomena like entanglement and superposition to solve problems that would take classical computers an impractical amount of time.
Why should we pay attention to quantum computing? Quantum computing holds tremendous importance due to its potential to solve complex problems that are beyond the reach of classical computers. It promises breakthroughs in areas like cryptography, optimization, drug discovery, material science, and machine learning.
AI+Quantum Computing: Making Moore's Law More Exponential.
Quantum and AI mutually empower each other, they are a powerful marriage: quantum computing can accelerate AI, enabling faster and more efficient algorithms. Likewise, AI is accelerating quantum computing because it offers significant potential for optimizing and improving various aspects of its processes. AI techniques can be applied to enhance quantum algorithms, optimize qubit configurations, improve error correction, and enable better noise reduction techniques. Additionally, AI can assist in the design and discovery of new materials for quantum computing hardware. By leveraging AI's capabilities, researchers can accelerate the development and progress of quantum computing, making it more efficient, reliable, and capable of solving more complex problems.
According to experts, the combination of quantum computing and AI will lead to computing powers 100 times greater than today’s in 10 years and 10,000 times greater in 20 years, contradicting those who argue that Moore's law is dead. On the contrary, growth will be much more exponential rather than linear.
Key Industries With Potential Paradigm Shifts
Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals: AI combined with quantum computing can revolutionize drug discovery, enable personalized medicine through advanced genomic analysis, and optimize healthcare resource allocation. They will provide new opportunities to better understand the nature of diseases and for the identification of new medications, through the design and selection of new molecules, optimizing their properties. There will be dramatic advances with the discovery of new drugs thanks to AI and quantum computing and new ways of understanding and interacting with the human body and the brain, through Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI), based on quantum computing and AI.
Financial Services: The fusion of AI and quantum computing can enhance risk assessment models, cybersecurity, portfolio optimization, fraud detection, and high-frequency trading algorithms, leading to improved financial decision-making and increased efficiency in transactions. According to a McKinsey & Co. report, finance is estimated to be the first industry sector to adopt and benefit from quantum computing, largely because of the potential for many financial use cases to be formulated as problems that can be solved by quantum algorithms suitable for near-term quantum computers. This is important because current quantum computers are small-scale and noisy, yet the hope is that we can still find use cases for them. In addition, a variety of quantum algorithms will be more applicable when large-scale robust quantum computers become available, which will significantly speed up computations used in finance.
- Logistics and Supply Chain: Can optimize supply chain management, route planning, and inventory control, leading to cost savings, improved delivery times, and streamlined operations.
- Climate Change and Energy: Can optimize energy production, facilitate climate modeling, and accelerate the discovery of sustainable materials and energy storage solutions, aiding in the fight against climate change.
Quantum Ready? Leading Companies
These companies, along with many others, are actively collaborating with researchers, academic institutions, and industry partners to explore the vast potential of quantum computing and develop practical applications across multiple domains.
IBM Quantum: IBM has been a pioneer in quantum computing for many years. They have developed IBM Quantum Experience, a platform that provides access to their quantum processors for experimentation and research. IBM is actively working on advancing quantum hardware, software, and algorithms.
Google Quantum Computing: Google has made significant strides in quantum computing, most notably with its project called "Google Quantum Supremacy." They achieved a milestone by demonstrating quantum supremacy, solving problems that would be infeasible for classical computers.
Microsoft Quantum: Microsoft is heavily investing in quantum computing research through its Microsoft Quantum program. They are focusing on developing a topological qubit, a more stable type of qubit that could lead to more robust quantum computers.
Honeywell Quantum Solutions: Honeywell is actively developing trapped-ion quantum computing technology. They have built high-performing quantum computers and are working toward scaling them up. Honeywell's approach emphasizes better qubit connectivity and error correction. They are exploring applications in optimization, materials science, and cryptography.
IonQ: IonQ is a leading quantum computing company focused on trapped-ion technology. They have developed some of the most precise and reliable qubits in the industry.
Rigetti Computing: Rigetti is known for its hybrid quantum computing+AI approach, combining both classical and quantum processing. They offer access to their quantum processors through their cloud-based platform, Forest. Rigetti is actively engaged in developing software tools, quantum algorithms, and exploring applications in optimization, machine learning, and quantum chemistry.
JPMorgan Chase: Investing in talent and partnering with leaders in quantum+AI for machine learning, cryptography, portfolio optimization, and Monte Carlo simulations.
Goldman Sachs: Actively investing in exploring the applications of quantum computing in finance, with advanced developments, including a prominent project focused on pricing complex derivatives.
Main Societal Challenges
While quantum computing+AI holds tremendous potential, there are several societal challenges that need to be addressed as technology progresses:
1. The “Quantum Divide:” The rapid advancement of quantum computing+AI may lead to a "quantum divide" where certain individuals, organizations, or countries have access to quantum technologies, while others are left behind. Addressing this divide and ensuring equitable access to quantum resources, knowledge, and benefits is important to avoid exacerbating existing inequalities.
2. Workforce Transition and Education: Quantum computing+AI requires a specialized skill set and knowledge that is currently limited to a relatively small pool of experts. Preparing the workforce for the quantum-AI era, ensuring inclusive education and training opportunities, and promoting diversity in the quantum workforce are crucial to maximize the societal benefits.
3. Environmental Impact: Quantum computing technologies have the potential to consume significant amounts of energy, especially as they scale up.
4. Ethical Considerations: Its immense computational power raises ethical questions regarding privacy, data security, and potential misuse.
5. Implications for Existing Technologies and Infrastructures: Understanding and managing the transition of industries and infrastructure to quantum-AI-ready systems will be crucial to minimize disruptions and maximize its positive social and economic impact.
6. Public Awareness and Understanding: Promoting public engagement, science literacy, and transparent communication about quantum technologies are crucial for fostering societal acceptance and informed policymaking.
It is all up to us: The size of the opportunity is equivalent to the size of the challenge.
The combination of these two cutting-edge technologies promises to unlock significant solutions to historical problems, while at the same time, it can exacerbate technological Darwinism and deepen inequality in the world.
When such powerful and disruptive technologies evolve together, we must make sure to turn them into superheroes, not villains. Indifference will only lead us to position ourselves as losers, our procrastination will not stop them, and it is our responsibility to leave a better world for future generations. Mind the gap: let's embrace the bright side of disruption and manage its transition for the good. It's all up to us.