Curiosity is the Building Block of Quantum Computing’s Evolution
Cutting-edge technology inspires transformation
18th of October, 2023
This article was originally published in Thinkers & Makers, a magazine from Akkodis featuring the smartest minds and innovative projects that are driving the future of technology and engineering.
We are on the precipice of solving some of society’s most complex problems, and when it comes to quantum computing, curiosity holds the key to unlocking powerful capabilities.
Powerful Quantum Advantage
By harnessing the phenomena of quantum physics, quantum computing is currently revolutionizing how data is being processed. It uses individual atomic or atomic-like particles, known as qubits, as the basic building blocks to hold information.
“What’s really interesting is how we can use the ability inside the framework of quantum mechanics in order to make complex things look much simpler and more achievable,” said Hossein Afsharnia, Akkodis Research and Development Engineer.
For some tasks, the efficiency gain of using quantum computing can be exponential: it would require exponentially more resources to implement and execute the exact computation on a regular computer of today. Quantum computers may enable us to run complex calculations with unparalleled efficiency and solve some of the most challenging problems of our time.
"For me, it feels like a miracle that mankind is able to build such hardware.” –Andreas Schruba, Akkodis Quantum Technology Product Manager
We are already seeing quantum computing at work in our society. Asset-management firms are utilizing it to increase foreign-exchange profits. A global automaker partnered with quantum experts to reduce the time it takes to design a vehicle, test the aerodynamics and predict how its materials will perform under stress.
Work is also under way to develop algorithms that will eventually help with supply chain management and optimization – which would help companies quickly react when supply chain problems arise.
Evolution of Quantum Computing
Interest in quantum computing is rapidly growing and evolving every day. With increasing access to such platforms, people are also more interested in exploring possible applications.
However, there is still much work to be done. Qubits are fragile and prone to errors. By their nature, they are difficult to control. If their errors are not corrected, a quantum computer will produce results that just don’t make sense.
Experts are working to develop algorithms to overcome and correct qubit problems so that quantum systems can reliably scale and be more fault tolerant.
The future of quantum computing is about how inventive users will be in identifying exceptional applications for today’s hardware. Quantum computing can be used to speed up some of the calculations of an already existing problem; the rapidity of the applications makes those problems solvable.
More so, use cases will emerge that were not immediately on our minds. From these new applications, new businesses will emerge that particularly benefit from the unique strengths of quantum computing. We predict these new use cases will emerge not in ten years, but maybe three to five.
“I think the most successful companies in the next few years will be those which are the most inventive or the most explorative in thought. They will discover new applications which may excel their existing businesses on particular aspects they may not have thought of in the beginning of their journey,” said Schruba.
Curiosity is the Key to the Evolution of Quantum Computing
To fully harness quantum computing’s capabilities, we must begin by piquing interest and cultivating curiosity. Physics, as a starting place, helps foster early exploration in the field while providing the opportunities to be prepared for a variety of industries.
When learners gain insight into how quantum computing operates and its uses, there will be a much higher probability that solutions, currently not in our environments, will be created.
For many in the field, this means helping our youngest generations develop expertise and interest around the technology. The focus right now should be about showcasing smaller applications and realistic use cases for hardware. Then by helping new explorers uncover what the applications could be in the future, we’ll start to see an explosion of curiosity. And with curiosity comes innovation.
“I think these people who are curious, are explorers, can link the knowledge from a specific field to quantum computers; these will be the successful users of this application,” said Schruba.
When considering the variety of hardware and large community in the field, within five to ten years we will see error-corrected qubits – which is a significant step in building large-scale quantum computers to solve problems.
Remember, without having quantum error correction in place, algorithms have to be short to obtain correct results.
“Working with so many people from different fields, different technologies, something like 50 error-corrected qubits within ten years is achievable. It will be tough, but can be done,” said Stefan Ulm, Senior Project Manager with Akkodis.
Akkodis experts hypothesize that if quantum computers achieve zero-error possibilities, information that exists about every atom of the universe can be decoded into a quantum computer that has only 400 working qubits. Right now, it’s very far from being achieved because the errors don't allow us to have zero-error qubits.
Additionally, the role of engineers will be critical to maintaining quantum computing systems moving forward. The convergence of digital and engineering means a fast-changing future for tech workers as old expertise becomes obsolete and demand for new expertise grows.
There is widespread uncertainty surrounding how artificial intelligence will impact future quantum computing capabilities and the market overall. However, Hossein believes that we have not yet achieved any sequential way of thought in AI or any kind of processing of information that exists.
“The way humans can think in a sequential way cannot be substituted by any machine of any power at the moment,” said Hossein. “No job will be substituted fully by any machine. This is my opinion. Maybe we will see another development in the future.”
Harnessing the Broader Ecosystem for Transformation
The success and transformation of quantum computing relies on a broader ecosystem of experts who can work together and achieve one goal. Akkodis is using its wide-reaching quantum computing expertise to help different fields of industries uncover their challenges and offer solutions to how those roadblocks might best be overcome.
The in-depth knowledge of Akkodis experts links the interest and needs of industry clients to available hardware and to the development of new algorithms and applications.
In 2017, Akkodis began with the first small tasks in this space, building control electronics for ion-based quantum computing and developing critical connections and partnerships worldwide. Through several collaborations, Akkodis has partnered with groups building the quantum computers, developing algorithms, and providing first industry use cases.
With the evolution of quantum computing, we are among the first to partner with organizations to build their quantum computers so they’re capable of solving bigger problems.
These challenges are now easier to be mapped to real-life problems such that the gap between what’s possible on the machine and what’s useful for your business is becoming smaller.
“We are among the first which are experiencing and participating in how real-life problems are executed on such hardware,” said Schruba. “I think this gives us a very valuable head start in understanding what one has to do to present a problem to these hardware and extract answers from them.”
So, what’s next? Akkodis experts will continue to harness their curiosity, while inspiring young thinkers in the next generations to become trailblazers in quantum computing. The technology is transformative, and Akkodis is thrilled to be a part of changing the world.