Quantum.Tech 2022: Next Generation Insights of Technology Innovations

In Summary
- Quantum.Tech 2022, in-person (Boston, MA, USA).
- Players in the Industry focusing on quantum computing, quantum communication, and quantum sensing.
- Early use-cases in Quantum Computing, Quantum Sensing, and Quantum Communication (US-based companies: Government agencies, Private sectors).
- There are only a handful innovative quantum startups for investors to select from, expects to have more in coming years.
- NISQ-era, Noisy Intermediate Scale Quantum. FTQC-era, Fault Tolerant Quantum Computer, quantum hardware, quantum development software, quantum development framework.
- Post Quantum Cryptography (PQC), Quantum Key Distribution (QKD), HNDL/SNDL (Harvest/Store Now, Decrypt Later) attack, GPS-free PNT (Positioning, Navigation, and Timing).
Key sponsors at Quantum.Tech 2022.
Attendees at Quantum.Tech 2022.

Highlights of Quantum.Tech 2022

Quantum technology covers diverse areas such as quantum sensing, quantum communication, and quantum computing. Quantum communication like QKD (Quantum Key Distribution) is seen as the more mature area (TRL 7 — Technical Readiness Level) for many potential implementations compared to quantum sensing and quantum computing. Quantum Computing is at TRL 3.

  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is looking for use cases in quantum sensing e.g. for TSA (Transportation and Security Administration).
  • Quantum in Defense (e.g. Department of Defense, DoD) focuses on PNT (Position, Navigation, Timing) in the sensor, computing, and communication area.
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) mostly looks for use cases around free-space quantum communication.
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) starts to facilitate the transition from Quantum Information Science (QIS) to implementable practical early use cases.
  • Airforce Research Laboratory (ARFL) is looking for use cases that leverage distributed quantum entanglement.
D-Wave booth at Quantum.Tech 2022.
Zapata, IBM booths at Quantum.Tech 2022.
  • Fortune-500 companies are trying to identify potential use cases.
  • Now, quite many quantum providers are professionally providing access to quantum Infrastructure, even if it’s still in research facilities.
  • Invest early in “potential quantum business cases”, and dynamically rearrange priorities as technologies mature.
  • To better adopt any new technology such as quantum, we need to ensure that it can fit in and improve the Enterprise workflow. If not, the technology can not be useful for businesses (does not contribute to the bottom line).
  • Airbus, which has delivered 14,000 aircraft so far, is focusing on quantum sensing, searching for an alternative to dependency on GPS for PNT. Including quantum secure connectivity and quantum computational fluid dynamics (Quantum CFD) for aircraft design. GPS-free PNT is expected to have many potential applications in many areas enabled by quantum communication.
  • BP (British Petroleum) is exploring many areas of potential quantum application by having a separate R&D group focusing on quantum and developing several partnerships with external parties.
  • Wells Fargo discusses HNDL (Harvest Now Decrypt Later) or SNDL (Store Now Decrypt Later). The potential for an attacker to attack data at rest or data in motion by storing (or ‘stealing’) the data now, then decrypting later (many years later) when the capable quantum computer is available. Wells Fargo prefers to be “quantum-resistance rather than quantum-safe” or more difficult to hack than the competitors rather than hackproof. The reason is “we don’t know what we don’t know.” The future has so many good or bad potentials that are unknown at the present time before millions of qubits of the actual quantum computer are available. Target quantum resilience on cyber security, get a free demo from solution providers whenever possible, and expect quantum error correction to be improved soon.
  • Boeing — Explores new technologies like quantum within the approved budget and real outcomes within three years to get more funding for future research. Looking more into quantum sensing. Standardization for interfacing is very important. Actively invests in multiple emerging technologies. Deploy and reallocate more budget for projects that potentially lead to maximum ROI.
  • Mastercard — focuses on quantum cryptography, mitigating future risks of quantum attacks in the future. Actively searching for potential risks in the future. The main challenge is more on utilizing big data.
  • The need for standardization in quantum computing, sensing, and cryptography.
  • Innovation should be based on the “right benchmark” and bring diverse multi-disciplinary people, not just quantum scientists.
  • It is important that end-users can see the potential as they are the influencer to adopt new tech such as quantum technology.
  • International collaboration is important to move things forward faster and reduce duplicating work or research.
  • Hybrid classical-quantum will be more in practical applications rather than mostly or purely quantum computing. Quantum computing will be part of the business process.
  • Business Executives do not care about quantum computing or anything quantum. It is similar to what’s happened with AI. They care “what the new technology can do for my business.” If the technologists can not articulate the benefit of new technologies such as quantum (quantum computing, quantum sensing, or quantum communication), it will have many challenges to get board approval (e.g. for funding).
  • For enterprises that do not have or not planning to have quantum expertise in the near future, it would be best to develop partnerships with startups or technology vendors for example to get early awareness of the development of quantum technology and do initial explorations in searching for potential use-cases.
  • Talent for quantum computing experts is scarce (especially at the Ph.D. level). It would be tough to find resources to implement a novel idea e.g. for innovative startups. venture capital (VC) is playing an important role here. Seed investment range typically between USD 150K to 5M. The investments to startups that are more than USD 5M fall into the category of growth investment. Good timing to market is also an important metric to consider for both the investor and founder.
  • From the VC’s point of view (seed investor), having the patient for such a long time (10 years or so before being ready to IPO) is really challenging i.e. regretting the initial investment by doing an early exit due to not seeing the potentially much larger ROI in the longer future.

Looking Ahead

For most of us who are not physicists by formal education, it is really challenging to explore and learn about quantum — whether quantum computing, quantum sensing, or quantum communication. It is expected that quantum technology will eventually come to be implemented in practical applications to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems that are tough to solve within a reasonable time, even with the most sophisticated classical supercomputers.

Quantum Hardware

On the hardware side, scalable quantum computers’ construction towards thousands and millions of qubits is still in active research either in Universities or Industries. We expect to see innovations and substantial advancements with the racing for a million qubits towards 2030. We are now in the “Early Industrial Era for Quantum Computing, NISQ” according to Prof. John Preskill, an American theoretical physicist and the Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology.

IBM Quantum Development Roadmap towards near-term quantum advantage (IBM, 2022).
An IBM researcher is working on an IBM Quantum Computer based on superconducting qubits (IBM, 2022).
Amazon Braket is a fully managed quantum computing service to speed up scientific research and software development for quantum computing (AWS, 2022).

Quantum Software and Development Frameworks

A software development framework encapsulates many lower-level hardware details so we can focus on the higher-level problems to solve. Some startups are building software frameworks to work with any underlying hardware when they become available in the future. Zapata Computing for quantum workflow (Orquestra) and Xanadu for quantum artificial intelligence (Pennylane.ai).

Zapata Orquestra orchestrates quantum application workflows across diverse quantum hardware, quantum development framework, and classical infrastructure (Zapata, 2022).

Algorithms and Tools

Generic tools to master include programming languages such as Python and C++. Programming languages are indispensable in working with quantum algorithms such as the two famous Grover’s and Shor’s algorithms. Grover’s quantum algorithm is used for searching unsorted data with quadratic speedup. Shor’s quantum algorithm is used for factoring large prime numbers with polynomial speedup.

Quantum Applications

The commercialization of quantum use cases can be broadly categorized into three areas (Andi Sama, 2021b): Machine Learning, Simulation, and Optimization.

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