A race has started for quantum technologies or quantum information science (QIS). Indeed, considering initially and notably the consequences in terms of cryptology – dubbed a “crypto-apocalypse” – no country may allow another state or a foreign company to be the first to develop quantum computing.
However, since the initial worry about cryptology somehow triggered the current quantum revolution, the situation has changed, discoveries have taken place and first proofs of the interest of QIS in general and quantum computing in particular do now exist.
As a result, what could have still been seen as a marginal, potentially far away and maybe still improbable evolution has now changed for something much larger in scope, much closer to the present in terms of timeframe, and also much more possible.
The potential advantages – either demonstrated as they already occurred or are taking place, or are still imagined as happening in the future – that could derive from the QIS are so immense that, again, no country nor high-tech company can afford lagging in the quantum race, or even worse, ignoring it.
Indeed, not benefiting from these changes could mean being left aside and seeing the QIS used against oneself. For example, very obviously, no company involved in computers and information technologies, can ignore the race and what the advent of quantum computing could have for its main activity. Many countries, in a world where security matters, are compelled to have what others could develop.
Yet, the very practical advantages one could seek from quantum technologies, or the related threats to security, thus the causes for the race are still relatively inchoate.
Actually, being able to imagine and foresee the usage of quantum technologies is also part of the race for quantum. Indeed, those who will be at the top of the race are those who will be able to harness first as many usages as possible, alongside developing quantum sensing, quantum communications, and performing quantum computing and quantum simulations.
This, furthermore, takes place in a world where artificial intelligence (AI), at least as deep learning, exists and also develops alongside QIS while both disrupt each other.
It is this first and difficult dimension that we shall address in this article, because it is a fundamental yet underestimated area of QIS. We shall also outline areas that could be deemed as sensitive in terms of security, while pointing out the industrial sectors that will be most impacted.
After having underlined the challenge and specificity of foreseeing a Quantum world and why actually we should merge quantum with AI, thus rather foresee a new Quantum AI world, we shall turn first to quantum communications and the security impact on both states and companies. Second, we shall look at changes resulting from quantum sensing and metrology. Finally, we shall focus upon the way quantum computing and simulations will increasingly impact an increasing range of activities, from logistics and optimization to quantum smart ports, with for example, consequences on the Arctic Northern Sea Route, through starting to look for solution to climate change.
Part of this article will be integrated, besides other points, in a forthcoming speech given at the International Conference on Quantum Computing (ICoCQ), which will take place in France at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, 26 to 30 November 2018. The conference will present an up to date perspective on the thriving field of quantum computing. As a result, for now, a large part of this article is offered as an exclusive avant-première to our members.
Towards a Quantum AI world?
The very changes permitted by quantum technologies are still difficult to imagine, notably because the evolutions will result from at least a four steps process.
About the author: Dr Helene Lavoix, PhD Lond (International Relations), is the Director of The Red (Team) Analysis Society. She is specialised in strategic foresight and warning for national and international security issues. Her current focus is on Artificial Intelligence and Security.
Bibliography and Notes
*A Universal Quantum Computer is a computer that may accomplish any type of operation. It is called this way by opposition to quantum computers that would be application specific.
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