Expert opinions, TECHNOLOGY

Quantum computing: why businesses need it now

The industrial revolution of the 18th century resulted in industrialization. The first quantum revolution of the 20th century created conditions for inventing lasers, mobile communications and the internet. When we entered the third millennium, humanity approached the Second Quantum Revolution which, without doubt, will improve many areas of life. Even today, companies can already take advantage of quantum technology. Here is what it is exactly.

Apparently, right now is the era of NISQ (noisy intermediate-scale quantum era), or pre-quantum era. This term is used to define the current status of quantum processor production. Specifically, their capacities do not exceed 50–100 qubits, their operation is unstable (they can easily lose their quantum state) while computing results contain a great number of errors (noises). These processors are not yet capable of solving practical tasks. That requires thousands and probably millions of stable qubits that will take another decade to create. However, everybody understands that this technology is the future. By developing a quantum computer we may discover new materials, model chemical compounds and solve optimization tasks that cannot be computed by conventional machines.

Entrepreneurs should be interested in science as it helps companies to timely discover and implement new technology. For any business with a step-by-step process, a quantum computer may increase efficiency by at least several percent. It may seem at first that it is not worth the effort but a couple of percent saves a great amount of resources and money for a large industrial production company. Optimizing processes improves the environment as well by curbing emissions and production costs. Thanks to these potential opportunities, investment in quantum computers has multiplied in recent years. In 2021, investors from different countries invested $1.02 billion in companies working on quantum computing. According to PitchBook, this is more than over the three years before 2021 combined. It is $187.5 million in 2019 versus $93.5 million in 2015.

The industry is also growing. Back in 2010, only a couple of major corporations, such as Siemens AG and IBM, were involved in quantum computing. By 2020, there were almost 200 companies on the market. Their products are primarily based on quantum modelling of materials, optimization and machine learning. In Russia, the industry is developing fast, with state support. The government allocated over RUB 23 bln ($356K) for the Quantum Computing Roadmap until 2024.

Although we are still a long way from a full-fledged quantum computer, building a business on quantum technology is already possible thanks to quantum-inspired algorithms. They use the advantages of quantum computing on conventional computers, looking for optimal answers over the time that is practically reasonable. It is much easier – and cheaper – to implement quantum-inspired algorithms than purchasing (hypothetically) and maintaining a quantum computer. Moreover, quantum-inspired algorithms work here and now helping to find solutions that are 95–99% close to best ones. More than that, they may prove useful on quantum computers in the future. The technology is already employed to optimize spacecraft trajectories, discovering new drugs and materials, planning complex production (for example, by Russian metal companies).

Investment in science and implementing modern technology is like a one-time payment that, in the case of quantum-inspired algorithms, will bring first return within the first year. Despite the fact that we continue to live in the era of NISQ without full-fledged quantum computers, there is no doubt that we can already rely on our new knowledge and algorithms to get ahead.

By Dmitry Vasilkov, founder and СЕО of QuSolve

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