I think it was Albert Einstein who said, “As far as the end-of-year prediction lists refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”
With that caution in mind, here are a list of predictions for quantum computing and quantum technology for 2024.
10. Quantum Biology Lives
In 2024, the world will just start to acclimate to the weird world of quantum information science when an even more science fiction-sounding advance will begin to emerge from the nexus of quantum and biological sciences. Quantum biology — not using quantum computers to understand biology — is the investigation into quantum processes that may lie hidden in living matter. The recent superconducting quantum tardigrade experiment is one example of this. But there is a much deeper, broader field to sow. Expect more news to come out in 2024 that will bring us to the cusp of quantum biology.
9. The Beginning of Quantum Betterness
We know that quantum supremacy has been achieved in limited academic settings, but it’s still a long-range goal for practical quantum. Even quantum advantage on a consistent basis is still a near-term future goal. But what about Quantum Betterness, the point at which quantum is a bit better than classical approaches and better enough to warrant further investment. Quantum Betterness could be a transition state that allows domain experts to rely on quantum or hybrid quantum-classical approaches that might be slightly better than pure classical approaches and seen as a baby step to better position their organizations toward unlimited growth of quantum advantage and supremacy. After all, quantum startups may need to prove their value to customers and investors who will increasingly want results, not theoretical aspirations.
8. Philosophers Join The Conversation
Quantum computing offers vast economic, business, entrepreneurial and scientific potential. This potential — both positive and negative — has already attracted ethicist. But quantum science, which powers the quantum computing and quantum technology revolution, also offers intriguing insights into how our reality exists. We expect philosophers and theologians, who have remained largely silent about this revolution, to weigh in. The conversation will broaden beyond how does quantum computing work to what does quantum computing mean. These voices are not separate from the economic progress, however. They will be critical for integrating this technology, which may be era-changing, into society and paving the way for a safer, more prosperous future.
7. Supply Chain, Labor Shortage Woes Continue
For at least the first part of the year, supply chain problems will be a source of frustration for the quantum industry. The usual suspects — seemingly endless new waves of COVID and COVID-stroked fears and a nagging labor shortage — will cause most of the disruption. While these sources will begin to release their hold on the day-to-day business operations in quantum, expect longer-term interruptions. Hiring trained staff will continue to be a problem and quantum nationalism will make supply chains less than efficient and effective.
6. Urge to Merge
2021 saw the first quantum super-merger between Honeywell Quantum Solutions and Cambridge Quantum, now Quantinuum. This year, we will see a boost in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity. Companies will take a hard look at the competition, assess their own strengths and build relationships with potential partners. Investors will be looking to acquire synergistic combinations of companies, too.
5. China’s Year to Shine, or Fade
Next year will be a pivotal year for China’s quantum future. It is grounded in a dazzling technological display of 2021, which featured a duo of quantum computers that used two different approaches — superconducting and photonic — to achieve quantum supremacy. This established that the country is now a leader in quantum. But, this year will be the most challenging yet for the country. Cracks in the research engine that produced these breakthroughs are beginning to show. A recent accident at a quantum computing facility that threatened a computer and rumors of harsh working conditions at the site are problematic. Western countries are also worried that China will use its progress in quantum tech to threaten national security is another problem that could curtail progress. Finally, uncertain business conditions — and open arms elsewhere in the world — may pull entrepreneurial and scientific talent from the country and into competing ecosystems.
4. Failures and Fraud
We don’t expect all good news in 2024. In fact, as the financial incentives grow in quantum and the pure complexity and difficulty of competing in the industry remains a significant barrier, organizations will be more willing to cut corners and, in extreme cases, commit fraud. Other companies will not be able to compete and choose other ways to exit the market — bankruptcy, acquisition, etc.
3. Profit Pressures
The flow of easy money may be tightening and the proliferation of quantum startups will make competing for that cash much more difficult. Investors will want to see more black on that bottom line — that means contracts, customers, clients and money. This will be the year that we might see quantum startups being punished — financially, at least — for not proving their business case to investors. Public quantum companies may also begin to pay closer attention to their bottom line, as well as tightening focus on ways to monetize quantum.
2. Schrodinger’s Cat SPAC Fever
Special Purpose Acquisition Companies — or SPACs — are increasingly favored by startups looking for a head start to trade publicly. The approach is favored over the slower, red-tape heavy initial public offering route. As noted in The Quantum Insider, more and more companies have interest from some of the world’s biggest investment firms. The valuations of those companies, too, reflect that interest. Critically, more quantum companies are on the cusp of commercialization. As more quantum companies drive hard toward commercialization and investment interest continues to grow, 2024 should see even more quantum SPACs.
1. Go Public, Or Go Home
Not all quantum computing and quantum technology will go the SPAC route. The industry will likely see startups go public through traditional initial public offerings — IPOs. These organizations may favor the longer — but more credible — IPO method.