27 April 2016

Towards the Quantum Singularity

The rapid development of innovative technologies (spintronics to mention one) and new materials (not only based on silicon but also carbon) allows manipulating - in a controlled way - a variety of quantum entities (e.g. electrons, photons and "quasi-particles" as phonons, anions, etc.), thus making feasible the ability to process and store data at the quantum level.

Some activities on quantum communications in some standardization bodies (e.g. ETSI and IEEE) and various movements of the market (also related to the creation and acquisition of start-up) are showing the growing level attention for this future avenue from both vendors and service providers (e.g. Microsoft, IBM, HP, Toshiba, Google, NASA, Intel, Alibaba, BT ...). As another example, in this Press Release of European Commission https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/european-cloud-initiative-give-europe-global-lead-data-driven-economy there is a plan by 2018 of launching a flagship-type initiative to accelerate the nascent development of quantum technologies, which is the basis for the next generation of supercomputers.

Specifically a strong interest is emerging in the use of quantum technologies for strengthening of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Cognitive Computing; Laboratory Quantum AI Google has already demonstrated the applicability of the D-Wave Quantum Computer 2X in solving complex optimization problems with constraints. IBM also is considering the expansion of Watson's capabilities with systems based on quantum technologies.

But there are also other interesting application contexts: for example, cybersecurity (not only for the transmission of aspects, but the potential for "speed" with which quantum systems may violate the existing security codes), and development of new methods of processing of Big Data, also suitable for applications in genetics, biology and medicine.

Among experts there is a growing belief that a "breakthrough" in the development of quantum systems (now conceivable within 10 years) would have a deep socio-economic impact, and could probably open a new CAPEX type industrial cycle: in fact, if the "softwarization" is transforming the telecommunications services in "commodity", the levels of investment required to develop services for the Quantum Society would be huge.