This is an edited version of opening remarks to The City Quantum Summit 2023.
By Karina Robinson
What’s happened in the last year in quantum? Three things.
Money’s been tight; governments have become ever more involved; the science and preparation for a post-quantum world have advanced at pace.
Just in the last weeks, the GSMA Post Quantum Telco Network Task Force published a call to action in its “Guidelines for Quantum Risk Management for Telecom companies – practical advice on security for a quantum world.”
Aircraft manufacturer Boeing pulled off the world’s first flight test of multiple types of quantum sensors.
Quantum software firm Multiverse Computing launched Compactify AI, an AI model that compresses gargantuan LLMs while maintaining the accuracy of results.
What three predictions could one have for the next 12 months?
Firstly, funding constraints should ease. We’re already seeing green shoots in the financial markets. Rumour has it that two big fundraisings from hardware companies will be announced soon, with Softbank, Microsoft, and a Sovereign Wealth Fund among the investors.
Secondly, the quantum industry needs to tie itself to the AI explosion. This phrase from a JP Morgan research note says it all: “Unified data assembled neatly in a modern database hosted in the cloud is optimal for fine-tuning LLMs, but most companies’ data is anything but unified on anything but modern database infrastructure.”
AI is using up ever-increasing, vast amounts of computing power, resulting in a huge carbon footprint, while the data sets are too messy, too large, and too expensive. Although not straightforward, quantum can help clean up the data and come up with accurate results using a smaller data base.
Any nation that falls behind in quantum, falls behind in AI – we as a sector need to make that point to governments and investors.
Thirdly, geopolitics. Export restrictions on Deep Tech are complex. Finding the balance between supporting cross-border innovation and ensuring the security of the West…well, not even a million qubits will be able to deal with the contradictions!
But what is clear is that the role of emerging and disruptive technology in defence is crucial. We have a golden opportunity – sadly based on a bedrock of invasion and war – to drive dual use technology. Decades ago, the creation of US agency DARPA ushered in a golden age of defence and civilian innovation. Russia’s attack on Ukraine reinvigorated NATO, which now serves as a catalyst for Deep Tech like quantum via its Innovation Fund and accelerator programme DIANA, even as European nations and many others bolster the amounts dedicated to defence.
As we are talking in groups of three, let’s mention The City Quantum Summit’s three principles. Free for all, gender-balanced panels, and no lingo no jargon.
The Summit’s aim is to be accessible, inspirational and actionable. One can but wish the same for the quantum industry. Workshops with end users that are in clear, non-technical language are one of the best ways to drive quantum adoption – as is mention of the considerable efficiency and environmental gains.
However, let’s leave room for a little bit of the mind blowing, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring craziness of quantum mechanics. The City Quantum Summit commissioned a futuristic film from artist Marina Landia on quantum and AI. Its score is quantum music created by composer Ilā using AWS Braket. Concurrent Realities will premiere now at the Mansion House, and then be taken off air to enter various film festival contests.
The madness reminds me of that story about explorer Christopher Columbus.
When he set out, he didn’t know where he was going.
When he got there, he didn’t know where he was.
When he returned, he didn’t know where he’d been.
There is more than a whiff of that in quantum.
Welcome to the Summit!
Links to the different panels at the Summit are below. TQI was the Media Partner, along with Quantum London.
Karina Robinson is Founder of The City Quantum Summit and Senior Advisor to Multiverse Computing.