New year, new lists, to paraphrase a January 1 tradition. However, this list is a little different. Rather than slap together a wish list of sorts, this is a compilation of quantum computing predictions from experts in the field, meta-predictions, if you will.
While some experts are being conservative, most experts believe that 2020 will be the start of the quantum decade. From building better quantum machines to sending this technology into outer space, this is how consultants and leaders in the field are eyeing quantum breakthroughs and breakouts.
Here are the eight expert predictions on quantum trends that will develop in the next year:
1. More Qubits!
One trend that pretty much experts agree on is that quantum researchers will be beefing up their computers with more qubits. How much more is the question. Futureologist and investor, Jeff Brown, says more than 200-qubit computers are possible this year.
“It’s important to remember that Google’s quantum computer had 53 qubits. We don’t need to worry about the specifics too much. Just know that we can associate the number of qubits with the power of the quantum computer. The more qubits, the more quantum computing power there is. And here’s what I predict for 2020: The world will see its first 256-qubit quantum computer.”
— Jeff Brown, editor, The Near Future Report, Exponential Tech Investor and Early Stage Trader
2. Quantum Sensing Technology Will Become a Thing
Quantum advances will continue unabated through 2020. Be particularly interested in watching developments in the fields of communications and quantum sensors, for example, according to ComputerWorld.
“We will be seeing quantum sensors monitoring oil and gas installations and in terms of communications there will also be some new developments,” says Andersson. “I think it’s probably a couple years before we see that being rolled out … but there are some significant products that are underway. “I think in terms of computing we are still going to see developments – the big announcement by Google, I think a lot of the other computing companies will follow with their own announcements. In the next year or so I think we will see some useful applications for quantum computing as well.”
— Andersen Cheng, founder of Post Quantum
3. Quantum Innovation Will Blossom in 2020
New technologies create new ideas and new ideas create new technologies. We shouldn’t expect anything different in the quantum industry. In 2020, expect quantum innovations to take off.
“We have been talking about quantum computing for a long time and we have heard of things in the works. Still, I will believe it when I see it. I am super excited if this is the case. As with any new technology or new feature, we will see an influx of innovation that follows. The new challenges and the new opportunities are exciting and maybe especially for the people that look for good or bad intended solutions.”
— Mark Miller, Venafi senior director of Enterprise Security Support
4. Quantum Computers Must Prove Their Practical Value
While 2019 gave us quantum supremacy, many experts say 2020 will be a re-tracing stage. Quantum computing will need to find practical applications before something like quantum supremacy actually matters.
“The mission to demonstrate the practical application of quantum computing will continue in 2020. While some companies have claimed to achieve quantum supremacy, we have yet to see this technology showcase its computing power to solve real-world problems. Although we are many years away from the first true quantum computer, the upcoming year will demonstrate more research and progress towards practical solutions of the technology.”
– Kalyan Kumar, CTO, HCL Technologies
5. Quantum Computer Joins a Host of World-Changing or World-Ending Technologies
Quantum computing is big, but how it interacts with dozens of other awesome technologies will prove pivotal for humanity, according to Pew Research.
“Fifty years from now is science fiction. There really is no telling with quantum computing, AI, blockchain, virtual reality, broadband (10G?), genetic engineering, robotics and other interesting developments affecting our lives and environments…. It’s just too far ahead to imagine whether we will be in a digital feudal system or highly democratic. But I do imagine that we could be on our way to re-speciation with genetics, robotics and AI combined to make us, in today’s image, superhuman. I understand that there are many ways that the technologies will lead to worse lives, particularly with the ability of entities to weaponize virtually any of the technologies and displace jobs. However, the advances in medicine extending lives, the ability to reduce consumption of energy, and the use of robotics and AI to solve our problems are evident. And we have to believe that our successors will opt for ways to improve and extend the human species rather than annihilate it or re-speciate.”
— Charlie Firestone, communications and society program executive director and vice president at the Aspen Institute
6. Hackers Will Attempt to Exploit Quantum Computation
Will quantum computers be the ultimate tool, or the ultimate weapon is a question on cybersecurity experts’ minds in 2020.
“The National Institute of Standards and Technology is already researching methods to deal with the effects of quantum power, and for good reason: hackers may access quantum computers as they become commercial. Quantum computers can launch attacks that break asymmetric cryptography, rendering the entire encryption method based on PKI obsolete. As threats become capable of defeating a higher proportion of security efforts, cybersecurity in 2020 will be defined by the need to stand out. Cybersecurity companies will need to take more risks”
— Shimrit Tzur-David, Co-Founder and CTO, Secret Double Octopus
7. Market for Quantum Computers Will Match Super Computer Market
The market for quantum computers will remain small — but the growth potential will be huge.
“The Noisy Intermediate Scale Quantum (NISQ) computing market—using what could be considered early-stage QCs—will be worth hundreds of millions of dollars per year in the 2020s.”
8. Quantum Satellites Will Take Flight
In 2020, the busy space above the earth may play host to a quantum satellite, according to a report from the Science and Technology Policy Institute.
“China’s quantum satellite (QUESS)usesentangled photons to transmit encrypted messages. Thisquantum satellite system maybecome commercially ready in China by 2019–2020.”
— Science and Technology Policy Institute