October 23, 2018

The Race to Dominate Quantum Computing is Well and Truly On

Quantum Computing We all Know about the race between the U.S. and China to impose tariffs on each other’s goods but there’s another race going on between the two countries that not many people are aware of; the race we’re referring to is the race to dominate quantum computing and own the next wave of computing. Here’s more on the battle for quantum supremacy!

The Battle for quantum supremacy is well and truly on! The U.S. is now focusing less on its trade battles with China and more on its strategic technology dual with Beijing. Today, many officials and other people with a stake in the U.S economy are pushing the government to invest in new technologies like machine learning and quantum computing as they could play a pivotal role in the strategic technology battle with China and some European countries.

To gain an edge over the other in the race to dominate quantum computing, both the U.S. and China have already started to develop quantum computers, which is happening at U.S. technology companies and Chinese universities. The processing enabled by quantum computing is so fast that it could completely transform the way auto manufacturers, the agriculture industry, and pharmaceutical companies function, reshaping the economy and pushing it higher in the process.

What the U.S. is Doing to Win Quantum Supremacy?

A major reason the American economy has performed well in the last few decades is that the country has been a leader in cutting-edge technology. Today, the U.S. is embroiled in battle with China and some European countries to dominate quantum computing as the next technological breakthroughs will be enabled by it.

This is a battle the U.S. cannot afford to lose, and this is the reason the government is taking measures towards dominance in quantum computing. One such measure is the National Quantum Initiative Act 2018, which is helping to align and speed up not just the research related to quantum science, but also the development of quantum computing technology.

The U.S. has a lot to gain by winning the race for quantum dominance and a lot to lose by not winning it—there are serious economic and national security implications of this. Quantum science has a massive role to play in the future of mankind and organizations and nations that can enable quantum science for their use have a lot to gain from it.

Exploring and exploiting elusive elements of quantum physics, quantum science promotes the idea that it is possible for subatomic particles to exist in varying states concurrently. This phenomenon is referred to as ‘quantum superposition’. What is it important? Because it can enable valuable, real-world applications.

As mentioned earlier, the U.S. government is relying on tech companies such as IBM, Google, and Microsoft to win the quantum race against China and Europe. But, what do these tech companies have to gain from their efforts in quantum science? A Communications Industry Researchers report reveals that the quantum computing market will reach $1.9 Billion by 2023. This offers tech giants such as IBM, Google, and Microsoft with a great opportunity to grow their revenues.

If the U.S. tech sector does manage to gain breakthroughs in quantum computing, don’t expect to carry around a quantum computer with you because that is just not going to happen, at least not in the foreseeable future. What we could witness though is significant improvements in several areas of science and technology. Examples are advances in chemistry that enable new medical treatments or transform industries and electric cars with longer-lasting batteries.

While there’s no guarantee that they would perform everything faster than traditional computers, quantum computers will solve some problems more efficiently than the computers we have today, which will enable great progress in some fields.

Coming back to the companies helping us to gain quantum supremacy, Google and IBM announced their plans to commercialize quantum computers over the coming years at roughly the same time. When the first quantum computer for commercial use is rolled out in the next few years, it would signal the shift from the lab exclusivity of quantum computing to the commercial purpose of the technology.

IBM and Google believe that they can help the U.S. to achieve ‘quantum supremacy’ in the next few years, which would allow the U.S government to solve many problems that it faces today and thus gain an edge over other economies such as China and Europe.

What China and Europe is Doing to Win the Quantum Computing Race

Billions of dollars are being invested by China and some European countries in research and other efforts related to quantum computing. China has made no secret of its intention to surpass the us in the race to dominate quantum computing over the next decade and longer.

While no one is sure about how much China intends to allocate to achieve dominance in quantum computing, some reports state that a National Laboratory for Quantum Information Sciences worth $10 billion is being built by Chinese government in the city of Hefei in Anhui Province. The facility is expected to be inaugurated in 2020. Compared to this, the U.S funding in quantum research is only about $200 million according to a report.

Even though the U.S lags China in quantum research spending, it can still win the race to dominate quantum computing if it becomes the first to secure quantum technology for encryption. This could be a ‘killer app’ for quantum computing and perhaps this is the reason the research firm Patinformatics has found that both the financial institutions in the U.S and the universities in China are rushing to get this quantum encryption technology patented.

While China has been more aggressive in funding research and other efforts in quantum computing, we (the U.S.) have made more breakthroughs in quantum computing thanks to technology giants such as IBM, and Google. However, there is a long way to go before we can call the out the winner of the race to dominate quantum computing.

by Bobby J Davidson

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