It will be between three and five years before a commercial use case for quantum computing comes to market, agreed a panel at Money 2020 US in Las Vegas this week.
“For certain really hard math problems and certain complexity classes there are things that these noisy intermediate-scale quantum solutions (Nisq) will be able to do much better than classical computers could do,” said Christopher Savoie, chief executive officer and founder of Zapta Computing. “For those Nisq high end problems, my guess would be somewhere in the three to five year time range we will have some examples that we can point to.”
On October 23, Google announced the results of its quantum supremacy experiment. It created a 54-qubit processor to perform testing with the aim of demonstrating the design of a quantum system that was both powerful and programmable. Google said the processor “performed the target computation in 200 seconds, and from measurements in our experiment we determined that it would take the world’s fastest supercomputer 10,000 years to produce a similar output.”
While the panel agreed that Google’s announcement was a huge step forward for the industry, Ben Porter, director of business development for quantum computing at Microsoft said using the technology is a “significant engineering effort that will take more than just one company”.
“There will be no moment where anyone comes out and says, ‘here is the commercial quantum computer and all of you can now start building applications for it,” he said.
But Nikitas Stamatopoulos, vice president quantitative research and head of quantum, JP Morgan, said Google’s progress would enable the industry to evolve.
“We focus on the problems we want to solve. Can we try them on a quantum computer right now? Yes, IBM provides that, great. But if something else comes along from whoever in a different manufacturing stage, that’s great, it advances the whole field."
In May, Willis Tower Watson joined Microsoft’s quantum network to utilise “quantum inspired algorithms” to create risk management, financial services solutions. It is also enabling Willis Tower Watson’s clients to allocate capital more resourcefully, said Porter.
“The challenge is that these models that quantify risks are very computationally expensive and so we are working with them to take principles of quantum algorithms and adapt them to run on today’s classical hardware to realise significant speed up and be able to more efficiently allocate capital.”
But Massimo Russo, managing director and senior partner, Boston Consulting Group warned that firms must begin to investigate which algorithms will suit their business models.
“New algorithms will become possible on new hardware platforms and different hardware platforms have different characteristics that lend themselves better to one algorithm or the other,” he said.