Quantum Computing

Recently, an audience question about the timing of quantum computing (QC) was answered by an expert in the following way: the timeline for the realization of QC is accelerating, with some milestones being realized as early as 2025. Much remains to be seen, but any acceleration of QC brings an acceleration of many world altering scenarios. In a recent article, Daphne Leprince-Ringuet identifies eight ways that quantum computing will change our world. Those eight are:

  • Discovering new drugs
  • Creating better batteries
  • Predicting the weather
  • Picking stocks
  • Processing language
  • Helping solve the traveling salesman problem
  • Reducing congestion
  • Protecting sensitive data

You can read about each in detail via the article. While that’s an impressive list, the true power of quantum computing lies in its problem solving potential. When realized, QC will likely help with climate change, chronic disease, and other long-standing problems that have been impossible to solve. As with every emerging innovation, it also has the potential for destruction. Quantum computing is explored in a fascinating new book titled AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future. Authors Kai-Fu Lee and Chen Qiufan take us on a fascinating journey to 2041. They use the power of story-telling to effectively help us understand where artificial intelligence (AI) is taking us. I will write a separate post on the book, but in the meantime, I have added it to my book library. The power of AI is amplified and accelerated with the realization of a new QC compute paradigm. However, after telling a story about quantum computing in 2041, Kai-Fu Lee states that he believes QC has an 80-percent chance of working by that date. He goes on to describe the challenges that quantum computing faces, and that considering those challenges, most experts believe it will take ten to thirty years to get a useful QC.

Bottom line: it’s still anyone’s guess regarding the timing of quantum computing. Current signals have some believing that the timeline to realization is accelerating, and Kai-Fu Lee indicates that some optimists see it happening in five to ten years – consistent with the views shared during that audience interaction I mentioned. Regardless of timeline, QC is just another example of a future innovation with massive implications.

Emerging Technologies With Near Term Impact

Given the overwhelming number of science and technology building blocks available and emerging, keeping pace is a monumental task. Harder still is identifying those that have near-term impact. A recent article by Kevin Dickinson identifies ten emerging technologies projected to impact us in the short term – many of which were accelerated by COVID-19. Here is a quick look at the list.

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Edge Computing And The Need To Sense And Respond

Back in 2013, I wrote about the critical need to Sense and Respond in a climate of uncertainty, interdependency, complexity, and velocity. In that post, I said this:

As our world experiences continued Acceleration and the amount of data flowing through company ecosystems expands, the need to sense stimuli and enable a real time response intensifies. Fortunately, rapid advancements in the price and performance of technology make realizing this sense and respond paradigm achievable and economical for a wide range of use cases – but this is arguably one of the most difficult components of transformation road maps.

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Moore’s Law

A recent article regarding Moore’s Law explores the winding down of a phenomenon that has impacted the world considerably since Gordon Moore, the founder of Intel, predicted that the number of components that could fit on a microchip would double every year. The article states that Moore’s Law has begun to reach its natural end, as efficiently manufacturing smaller transistors gets more difficult. Author Tom Hoggins projects that by the mid-2020s, the law will have plateaued completely as production costs increase and transistors reach their physical  limits.

The pictures I try to paint of our emerging future rely upon the continued expansion of our compute power and its synergistic relationship with energy. An example of a Virtuous Cycle in action, as advances in one area drive compelling reasons for advancement in the other. Realizing innovations’ potential to advance the human development envisioned by my Innovation Wheel relies on continued advancement in both areas. As the author states, Moore’s Law has in some ways eliminated the need for creativity in both design and manufacturing. As it comes to an end, a new era of creativity is likely to bridge the gap between the wind-down and a new computing paradigm such as quantum computing.

We already see creativity in advancements such as neural network processors that support the processing needs of AI solutions. The author strikes a positive tone, as he sees new approaches emerging to both software and processor architecture. The opportunity for innovators and investors is very large.