Quantum Information Science / Quantum Computing (QIS / QC) continues to make substantial progress into 2023 with commercial applications coming where difficult practical problems can be solved significantly faster using QC (quantum advantage) and QC solving seemingly impossible problems and test cases (not practical problems) that for classical computers such as supercomputers would take thousands of years or beyond classical computing capabilities (quantum supremacy). Often the two terms are interchanged. Claims of quantum advantage or quantum supremacy, at times, are able to be challenged through new algorithms on classical computers.
The potential is for hybrid systems with quantum computers and classical computers such as supercomputers (and perhaps analog computing in the future) could operate in the thousands and potentially millions of times faster in lending more understanding into intractable challenges and problems. Imagine the possibilities and the implications for the benefit of Earth’s ecosystems and humankind significantly impacting in dozens of areas of computational science such as big data analytics, weather forecasting, aerospace and novel transportation engineering, novel new energy paradigms such as renewable energy, healthcare and drug discovery, omics (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomic), economics, AI, large-scale simulations, financial services, new materials, optimization challenges, … endless.
The stakes are so high in competitive and strategic advantage that top corporations and governments are investing in and working with QIS / QC. (See my Forbes article: Government Deep Tech 2022 Top Funding Focus Explainable AI, Photonics, Quantum—they (BDC Deep Tech Fund) invested in QC company Xanadu). For the US, in 2018, there is the USD $1.2 billion National Quantum Initiative Act and related U.S. Department of Energy providing USD $625 million over five years for five quantum information research hubs led by national laboratories: Argonne, Brookhaven, Fermi, Lawrence Berkeley and Oak Ridge. In August 2022, the US CHIPS and Science Act providing hundreds of millions in funding as well. Coverage includes: accelerating the discovery of quantum applications; growing a diverse and domestic quantum workforce; development of critical infrastructure and standardization of cutting-edge R&D. Quantum specific programs are: Quantum Science Network (lead agency: DOE); Quantum User Expansion for Science and Technology Program (DOE); Quantum Networking and Communications Research and Standardization (NIST); Next Generation Quantum Leaders Pilot Program (NSF) — annual authorized investment USD $153 million.
You are also seeing QC companies going public via SPACs such as D-Wave (August 2022), Regetti, IonQ and large investment rounds (example: Xanadu).
To gain perspective on where QIS / QC is going, I reached out to QIS / QC experts for their views.
Thus, top quantum experts give their top 3 QIS / QC trends for 2023 and 2030. I tried to keep their phrasing as close to their submissions to me as possible thus you will see their insights on 2023 and 2030 with the phrasing differing in their descriptions.
In addition, interviews with many of the experts are spotlighted where you can gain their deep insights in QIS / QC. The interviews can be found with the non-profit IEEE TEMS (interviews by Stephen Ibaraki; go to the general listing of all interviews and then use the browser Find option to search on a name). Interviewees, with a combined 10 hours of dialogue, include: Steve Brierley, Mark Saffman, Travis Humble, Gopal Dixit, Sebastian Weidt, Michele Mosca, whurley, Scott Aaronson, Stefan Woerner, Hausi Müller. There are direct links to the interviewees profile page and video where they have provided their trends below.
Many of the QIS / QC experts are also speaking at IEEE Quantum Week QCE22 September 18-23, 2022.The IEEE, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, its roots dating back to 1884, and with more than 420,000 members in 160-plus countries, is the world’s largest non-profit technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity.
Quantum Physics produces Quantum Effects from Quantum Mechanics providing Quantum Information Science and related technologies (QIST) that includes quantum computing, quantum simulation, quantum communications, quantum sensing, quantum measurement, quantum materials…this has spawned areas such as quantum safe cryptography and more. I often use QC as the general term for simplicity to point to Quantum Effects-related to Quantum Information Science and related technologies. Quantum Information Science or Quantum Information Science and Technology (QIST) is the better umbrella term.
The University of Waterloo Institute for Quantum Computing does a good overview on QIST with definitions. Microsoft, IBM, Google, and other large technology companies also provide good overviews including their work in QC.
A basic measure of QC capability is the number of quantum bits (qubits), the fundamental unit used to store and process data. Digital computers use bits which are like a light switch, on or off. Qubits can store a linear combination of one and zero (called superposition) encoding, an infinite number of possible states in each individual qubit creating powerful capabilities. While two bits represent two states in the classical computer, two qubits together can be in four different states. For n qubits the number of states increases by 2 to the nth power (2^n). So, for a 10-qubit configuration, this becomes 2^10 combinations; for 32 qubits, 2^32 combinations—that’s more than four billion. That’s much better than 32 digital bits that are either one or zero. The added quantum properties of entanglement where qubits work in perfect tandem, leads to exponential computing capabilities not possible even with the fastest zetascale (thousand billion billion) next generation supercomputers. Exascale supercomputers released in 2021 can do more than 1 billion-times-billion calculations per second or more than 1000 petaflops. (See my Forbes article with Jack Dongarra on the latest work in supercomputing: Jack Dongarra ACM Turing Awardee For Pioneering In Outstanding World-Changing Computations).
Qubits are rather unstable and noisy—break down or decohere before they can do something useful—one of the fundamental challenges with QC. There are ways to address this though we are still in the early days. So, when qubit figures are published for quantum machines they are usually in terms of stable qubits or logical qubits.
IBM, believes these published figures are not meaningful so have proposed another number, Quantum Volume. Quantum Volume (QV) combines qubits with connectivity between the bits and quality. IonQ believes the QV numbers are too large so have come up with a measure for their Algorithmic Qubits which is log 2 of QV.
There is also this concept of noisy intermediate-scale quantum (NISQ) where QC can contain hundreds of qubits (of moderate gate fidelity) but haven’t achieved fault-tolerance (don’t continuously implement quantum error correction so challenging to use for practical applications) and are not sufficiently large to solve practical applications (coined by John Preskill in 2018, see Wikipedia for more on these areas). You will also see the term, Quantum key distribution (QKD), which is a secure communication method involving quantum mechanics.
This article is based upon insights from my daily pro bono work, across more than 100 global projects and communities, with more than 400,000 CEOs, investors, scientists, and notable experts.
QIS / QC 2023 & 2030 Trends
Alan Baratz, CEO, D-WAVE Systems Inc.
Top 3 QIS / QC trends for 2023
1.Commercialization of quantum computing emerges (real customers, real revenue, real products).
2.Quantum hybrid optimization applications begin to go into production.
3.It will become widely accepted that NISQ systems will not deliver commercial value – Error correction will be required.
1.Scalable, error-corrected gate-model machines will begin to emerge (operative word is scalable).
2.Clear set of “killer apps” are emerging.
3.Quantum is commercial and mainstream – it’s on every CIO/CTO’s roadmap, much like the emergence of cloud computing or AI.
Sebastian Weidt – CEO and Co-founder – Universal Quantum (interview)
1.Focus will shift towards identifying and supporting quantum computing hardware approaches that can get out of NISQ and really can reach utility-scale using currently available engineering.
2.With the knowledge of the threads to data security that come with quantum computing becoming ever more prevalent, QKD adoption include QKD-on-a-chip will soar.
3.We will see a significant increase of government involvement in quantum computing via investment as well as via national protection mechanisms.
1.We will have access to utility-scale quantum computing, delivering transformational capabilities to end-users.
2.We will see broad adoption across a wide variety of industry sectors, leading to life-changing products and disruptive changes to the markets.
3.We will have the first ‘quantum war’ – State actors and others will use quantum computers to try and protect their national and international interests, threatening the world order as we know it.
Mark Saffman: Professor of Physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Director of the Wisconsin Quantum Institute; Chief Scientist for Quantum Information at ColdQuanta, Inc (interview)
My top 3 trends for 2023
1.Continued progress on demonstrations of quantum error correction going below code thresholds.
2.Reaching quantum advantage in the combination of quantum sensors with small quantum processors.
3.Emergence of neutral atom quantum computers as a scalable approach.
By 2030 I expect to see
1.Computers with 100 logical qubits that provide beyond classical computational capabilities.
2.Widespread deployment of secure quantum communication networks.
3.Quantum enhanced inertial navigation systems that operate independent of GPS.
Scott Aaronson: David J. Bruton Centennial Professor of Computer Science at the University of Texas at Austin; recipient of ACM Prize in Computing (interview)
As the three trends I’m most excited about for 2023 (among the ones that can be foreseen), I’ll pick
1.Verifiable Quantum Advantage on Near-Term Devices.
2.Experimental Progress Toward Useful Quantum Error-Correction.
3.Discovery of More Efficient Error-Correcting Codes and Fault-Tolerance Schemes.
Is too far in the future for me to say.
Travis Humble: Deputy Director at the Department of Energy’s Quantum Science Center; Distinguished Scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Director of the lab’s Quantum Computing Institute (interview)
I see the following ideas as key trends coming in 2023
1.Experimental demonstrations in quantum signal processing.
2.Rapid growth in quantum-error corrected processing.
In the long term, 2030, I have my eyes set on
1.Fault-tolerant operation of quantum computing systems.
2.Cryogenically integrated quantum computing and HPC systems with local quantum networks.
Michele Mosca: Co-founder, Institute for Quantum Computing, University of Waterloo; Founder of Quantum-Safe Canada and Quantum Industry Canada; Co-founder and CEO of the quantum-safe cybersecurity company, evolutionQ (interview)
Top 3 trends for 2023
1.Quantum cyber vulnerability scanning and risk assessment become best-practices for cyber risk managers and IT procurement.
2.Increasing engagement from end-users (with computational challenges) with quantum software companies to explore potential enhancements from future quantum computers.
3.Increasing policy discussions and debates around national quantum strategies, balancing international cooperation and development of global markets with desire to develop domestic industries.
Top 3 trends for 2030
1.Quantum-safe cryptography, including post-quantum public key infrastructure and certified QKD networks, deployed across main digital platforms.
2.Benchmarking the increasing power of fault-tolerant quantum computers; approaching quantum advantage via fault-tolerant QCs.
3.Quantum sensing technologies impacting several industry verticals.
Steve Brierley: Founder and CEO of Riverlane (interview)
This is such an uber-trend it both trumps and encompasses all others. Error correction is the key that will unlock useful quantum computing in the future. Qubits (of all types) are delicate, unstable and prone to high volume of errors that can quickly overwhelm the system. Decoding these even on a ‘small’ quantum computer requires real-time identification and correction of billions of errors (equivalent to Netflix’ total streaming volume, for ex) per micro second. This is a known challenge but until now the industry has collectively put it in the bucket labelled ‘too hard – figure it out in the future’. That future begins now. Google and Quantinuum have recently performed successful experiments to create ‘logical qubits’ (a stable virtual qubit made up from many physical qubits). End users, including governments, are now demanding (and funding) concrete steps toward error-corrected quantum computer systems with logical qubits. Riverlane is now soft launching its ‘decoder’ (the layer of the quantum stack that identifies and corrects the billions of system errors in real time) across various qubit and hardware types. Because error correction has always been our single minded mission and focus, our decoder will stand apart from any similar capability in the global market (we’ll do demos and publish open peer reviewed data in Q4 and 2023 clearly substantiating this). Whether quantum hardware companies use our decoder or their own in their stack, 2023 will be the year when the global quantum community turns its collective attention fully to post NISQ, error-corrected quantum computing. It’s a complex long term problem – perhaps the most challenging yet undertaken by the human race – so this will remain a focus into 2030 and beyond.
Quantum networks transmit and share digital information much like classical networks but use qubits so are potentially far more powerful. Due to their enormous complexity and the error problem identified above, quantum networks don’t yet fully exist but that’s starting to change and will accelerate in 2023 as scientists build and test prototype systems. Their first use case are likely to be unhackable communications secure for IT security, banking and medicine et al. Quantum networked use cases like quantum key distribution are already helping secure data transmissions over short distances.
There are many different types of qubits, each with their own pros and cons. Today they tend to fall into two broad buckets 1) atomic (ion traps, neutral atoms) and 2) solid state (particularly superconducting qubits) with ‘photonic’ qubits potentially forming a distinct third category. One version of ‘conventional wisdom’ (if such a thing exists in a field so new and complex) has been that qubits are an arms race where one technology will emerge as winner. Expect that hypothesis to start to be debunked in 2023 as more exotic types of qubits (for ex, topological and silicon) emerge. So we’ll likely pivot in 2023 from the arms race model to one where a variety of qubits have a place in a future quantum computing ecosystem with different types of qubits ideal for different types of use cases.
Harder question but 2023 tends will continue for many years.
Dr. Stefan Woerner, Principal Research Scientist, Manager, Quantum Applications Research & Software, IBM Quantum, IBM Research Europe – Zurich (interview)
These statements reflect what the IBM Quantum team has laid out in our roadmap, which was recently updated through 2025.
1.Advanced error mitigation techniques will further improve the performance of today’s noisy quantum devices and show a continuous path towards the ultimate goal of fault tolerant quantum computers.
2.Soon, we could see the first demonstrations of using quantum computers to perform tasks that are provably intractable for classical computers. Then, further advancements on error mitigation, algorithms, and circuit knitting techniques will lay the groundwork for industry to move toward the first applications with a quantum advantage that benefits business and science.
3.Alongside the promise of quantum computing is the potential for future quantum computers to decrypt today’s data and classical systems. However, after six years of evaluation, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced the first four standards for quantum-safe cryptography protocols. These algorithms, three of which IBM was directly involved in developing, effectively protect against this eventuality. The topic has already gained significant traction, as governments and companies are exploring, and starting to integrate these protocols into their processes and IT infrastructure. This will be crucial to become quantum safe and prepare for the future.
1.Throughout the next years, quantum hardware will significantly improve in scale, quality, and speed. Together with research in error mitigation and error correction this will lead to advances towards fault tolerant quantum computers of increasing scale.
2.We already know how some quantum algorithms and possible applications of quantum computers could soon be relevant to problems in many domains. However, this is likely only the tip of the iceberg. After first demonstrations of quantum advantage through noisy devices, and significant advances towards building fault tolerant quantum computers, we’ll also see more algorithmic breakthroughs and new applications with large impact for business and society.
3.Quantum computers will be used in more and more domains to accelerate certain tasks via cloud access. Their use becomes more natural and tightly integrated in an increasing number of services. So, it is important for students, developers, and domain experts to begin developing knowledge and skills in quantum, and industries begin to develop their quantum workforce.
Rafael Sotelo, PhD., Quantum-South, President; Universidad de Montevideo, Director of Research
1.We will see more Proof of Concept of Quantum Computing use cases in different areas of human activity.
2.Pilots and implementations in production of Quantum Computing or quantum inspired algorithms in industries will be known, particularly in certain optimization applications to air and maritime cargo logistics.
3.New approaches to hardware will begin to be studied, with mixed systems, partly based on quantum states of matter, with longer lifetimes that will provide memory to the systems, and on the other hand, processing and communication will be based on states of the light.
1.QC will be widely used in large optimization problems in logistics and industrial organization, as well as in consumer technology-oriented services, such as recommender systems, data analysis, Smart cities, IoT, and others.
2.Some manufacturers will comply with their today roadmaps and there will be large quantum computing systems.
3.New mixed technologies (matter-light) will continue to be experimentally developed as physical support for quantum computing and will prove viable and promising.
Hausi A. Muller, Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Victoria; General Chair IEEE Quantum Week 2023 (QCE23); IEEE Quantum Week 2022, QCE22 Finance Chair, QCE22 Workshops Co-Chair; Co-Chair IEEE Future Directions Quantum Initiative (interview)
1.Quantum error correction (QEC) for quantum fault-tolerant computing. The major quantum computing companies are all working passionately on hardware and software QEC.
2.Quantum runtimes to integrate quantum and classical computations. Different aspects of a quantum problem are best solved by having classical and quantum computers collaborate and going back and forth in the course of algorithmic solutions.
3.Appetite for knowledge of quantum computing and quantum information is increasing dramatically. Educational institutions and companies are eager to train students and developers in quantum engineering.
1.The quest toward 300 logical qubits — fault-tolerant, error-corrected qubits with high fidelity and coherence.
2.Software packages for solving quantum optimization problems.
3.Practical and effective quantum simulation of molecular structures.
Chintan Oza, Founder of Anantam Ecosystems & Regional Director of India at Founder Institute
1.Start of Quantum Transformation in Enterprise: more and more processes would be made quantum ready.
2.Semantic Web: Extension of Quantum Computing beyond earth: At present thousands of satellites are connected with AWS/Azure/Google Cloud. Hence, Cloud Computing is available and is being extended to semantic web.
3.Research for Humanity: Quantum would play major role in formulation of new materials as well as R&D of pharma to help fight from ongoing and future pandemic.
4.Rise of Quantum Encryption driven token economy: New token driven use cases would be supported by Quantum grade encryption in various IoT devices.
5.Quantum in Syllabus: Quantum would be taught as a subject in most engineering undergraduate schools.
1.Global operation of Smart Communities/Fleets: Rise of life in an Algorithmic world.
2.Governance: Governments would adopt Quantum Computing in e-governancce.
3.Real Convergence: Beyond 2025, convergence of multiple emerging tech like Quantum and Metaverse would provide new use cases and business models.