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Quantum is Now

The GTA Quantum team explain why Quantum is Now.

Arguably one of the most important movements in the computing industry in the last 60 years, the quantum era is fast becoming a reality for science and industry alike and is moving at a great pace. Quantum computing presents the next evolution of compute technology, which is expected to be able to tackle problems deemed too complex for even the most powerful supercomputers.

Quantum will expand the scope and complexity of business problems we are able to address and help us to better understand our natural world, using a form of computation that is able to harness the key concepts of quantum mechanics, including superposition and entanglement.

With this paradigm shift in computational technology, we could begin to address some of the most pressing challenges facing our generation, such as the development of new medicines and non-carbon intensive energy technologies [1]. Quantum has the potential to positively disrupt these major world challenges in a significant way, and far more so than any other technology wave of any recent decade. BCG estimates that quantum could create a value of between $450bn to $850bn by 2040 [2].

While research is extensive and ongoing in the application domains, current application areas for quantum can be grouped as follows:

  • Simulation: Simulating processes that occur in nature and are difficult or impossible to characterise and understand with classical computers today. This has major potential in drug discovery, battery design, fluid dynamics, derivative and option pricing.
  • Optimization: Using quantum algorithms to identify the best solution among a set of feasible options. This could apply to route logistics and portfolio risk management.
  • Machine learning: Identifying patterns in data to train ML algorithms. This could accelerate the development of artificial intelligence (e.g. for autonomous vehicles) and the prevention of fraud and money-laundering.


Finally, fault-tolerant quantum computing threatens the most widely adopted encryption schemes used in cryptography as we understand it today. This puts the current security of data at risk, as malicious actors could harvest and store present-day data for later decryption using advanced quantum hardware [14]. The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently announced the first 4 Quantum-Resistant Cryptographic Algorithms with plans to make all federal, state, and private enterprises quantum resilient within 10-15 years [15].

Early use cases already exist across fintech, pharma, materials and automotive. From drug discovery to re-engineering supply chains, there is an urgency to accelerate solutions to increasingly complex societal, macroeconomic, and environmental problems on a global scale. Quantum applications in sustainability could also help with reducing carbon emissions by as much as 7 gigatons a year by 2035 by limiting the production of methane from agriculture, improving the efficiency of batteries used in electric vehicles, reducing the cost of hydrogen, and making this resource a viable alternative to fossil fuels [1]; this would be essential to making the world emission targets possible.

Although quantum is often dismissed as too futuristic, some experts predict that we are within five years of reaching Quantum Advantage – the point at which quantum computers are expected to be able to exceed the capabilities of classical computers to solve real problems considered intractable today [3]. Quantum is fast approaching – the power of quantum computers has the potential to grow exponentially, and quantum devices with 1,000 qubits are projected to be available over the next 18 months [18]. More broadly, we are also seeing progress in the development of chips, components, sensors, devices and all the necessary software to run them [9].

There exist many competing architectures in the race to build commercially useful quantum computers – with superconducting and trapped ions being the most common [5]. In the future, we may see different architectures leading in applicability, power, and throughput at different points in time, and in different application areas.

While quantum computing will not replace classical compute, it will instead extend upon and complement the capabilities of the world’s largest supercomputers, since data input and output will continue to be classical. Quantum computers and quantum programs will therefore require a combination of classical and quantum processing meaning that the hybrid nature of the architecture will be a key feature of future solutions.

Quantum algorithms can be developed using quantum, hybrid computing and simulators, thereby allowing early adopters to leverage this new paradigm of computing ahead of the development of devices offering a quantum advantage. Today’s quantum computing systems are running on the cloud at unprecedented scale – compilers and algorithms are rapidly advancing, communities of quantum-proficient talent are on the rise, and some leading hardware and software providers are already publishing technology roadmaps [4]. Large names such as Google, IBM and AWS are already heavily investing in quantum in the cloud, whilst smaller, quantum-first hardware companies continue to rapidly emerge [6].

Several software development platforms have also been released by various vendors for programming quantum computing hardware, such as Google Cirq, Amazon Braket and IBM Qiskit [11]. The open-source nature of these programmes will continue to be vital to maintaining the rate of progress we currently see in the software space.

One key problem faced across the academic and corporate world is how this technology can be built at scale. Adding qubits to a device by no means necessarily brings higher fidelity. There is a significant dependency on progress with error-mitigation, given that many qubit types have inherent errors [7]. Performance benchmarks for quantum devices are important for assessing progress in this area of research and for comparing technologies [8].

Initiatives such as the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, authorises new investments in core quantum research programs that will encourage transformative and fundamental scientific discoveries [12]. Not only will this help with localising the chips and components supply chain, but it will also likely further encourage breakthroughs that directly steer the applications of quantum. Around the globe, the UK Ministry of Defence, NATO and other major government and defence organisations are also beginning to fund public initiatives and structure national quantum strategies [13].

According to McKinsey’s Quantum Technology Monitor April 2023 report, many regions like China, European Union, Japan, UK, India, Canada, Israel and others have announced significant funding efforts to push their respective national quantum initiatives forward [17]. However, it will be our collective ethical responsibility to collaborate across geographies in order to encourage global progress.

Quantum computing applicability is no longer a theory, but a reality to be understood, strategized, and planned for. This revolutionary computing paradigm is moving at a great pace and offers us the opportunity to build a better and smarter world for future generations to come.