From Ottawa to Davos to Miami: Quantum Computing on the Lips of World Leaders and Businesses
By Allison Schwartz, D-Wave Global Government Relations Leader
2023 is ushering in a new sense of urgency among world leaders when it comes to engaging with quantum technologies. As countries begin to recognize the near-term benefits of quantum computing, governments are starting to lay the groundwork for programs and infrastructure investments necessary to facilitate adoption and commercialization.
Early in January, a year after the release of the Quantum Computing Governance Principles, world leaders announced development of a National Quantum Blueprint to serve as guidance for all nations looking to invest in quantum technologies during this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. This blueprint provides a framework for how governments should work together on fostering quantum technology. It is expected to create a roadmap across academia, industry and government to help countries develop, support and commercialize their quantum tech initiatives, create new jobs and prosperity, and protect their national security, business integrity and citizens’ privacy.
The commitment from WEF comes on the heels of the Canadian National Quantum Strategy announcement, where the government outlined its plans to support ongoing quantum computing innovation, focusing on three pillars: talent development, research and commercialization. Further, business leaders recently gathered in Miami for D-Wave’s Qubits conference, where companies showcased quantum applications using D-Wave’s quantum annealing technology for a variety of industries including supply chain optimization, staff scheduling, advanced manufacturing, financial services, energy and more.
It’s clear. Governments and businesses alike agree that the time is now to invest in quantum computing.
In fact, a recent industry report from Hyperion Research found that 34% of those surveyed are exploring options and monitoring technology developments, 26% stated they are performing quantum use case analysis and prioritization, and around 14% of respondents were working on a current proof of concept research program or using quantum computing for one or more business processes. More than 80% of the surveyed organizations plan to increase their investment in quantum computing in the next two to three years.
“Often you’ll hear quantum computing is complex and that we’re years away from actually being able to use quantum computers. But that’s FUD — fear, uncertainty, and doubt — propagated by those in the industry that are years away from having quantum computers that can actually solve real world problems. That’s not the case with D-Wave. We chose a quantum path that has allowed us to get to commercial first, and years ahead of anybody else,” said Dr. Alan Baratz, CEO of D-Wave Quantum Inc. “So despite what you might hear from industry pundits with big megaphones, the era of commercial quantum computing is here today, and D-Wave is leading the charge, not something that you need to plan for tomorrow.”
Quantum computing encompasses more than just one type of system — it’s not just about gate model computing, which remains years away from being able to tackle problems at scale. Annealing quantum computers scaled up faster and are excellent at solving optimization problems, things like employee scheduling, or shipping container unloading and loading, or even protein folding. In addition, annealing quantum computers work with classical computers in a hybrid format so the end user, whether it be business or governments, get the optimal computational power to address their specific set of problems.
As the global efforts to build quantum computers and understand the capabilities of the technology increase, governments must not only prepare for its future potential but focus on the near-term capabilities of the current technology. Yes, there will be future advancements made in the hardware systems, but that doesn’t mean we should wait to use the technology today. The Port of Los Angeles is working with SavantX right now using quantum applications to help optimize port operations. The QED-C, a US-based quantum consortium, released a report identifying near-term use cases for electrical grid resilience that could benefit from today’s quantum computing technology. Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom and the European Union are all looking at near-term applications for solving a variety of public sector problems including sustainability efforts, transportation network optimization and more. And the Canadian House of Common’s Industry committee even recommended a quantum sandbox program focused on developing and deploying near-term quantum applications.
This year, the U.S. Congress must reauthorize the National Quantum Initiative Act and include an added focus on near-term quantum and quantum-hybrid application development. There are a variety of public sector use cases which could be addressed with today’s quantum hybrid applications, including emergency response, infrastructure projects, electricity resilience and more.
Annealing quantum technology, and quantum-hybrid applications, can unlock value for the public and private sector now, and those not considering it as part of an overall quantum strategy are already behind.
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