From social media sites, to technology conferences, from venture capital funding to line items in business budgets, from free YouTube training videos, to college and university curricula in quantum information, science, computers and technologies, the challenging commercialization of quantum is moving fast, faster than most have estimated. We have even seen a growing interest in government, security and defense applications. This came much more than a surprise to market analysts; it was a shock. After all, understanding the fundamentals of quantum mechanics and how it is being applied in business and products is far from being easy.
Few are challenging the potential business value quantum computers and technology will bring. The only dispute is how long it will take before we move from the applied research phase, that we are in now, to the early stages of mass commercialization where venturing has begun. Looking back from the first of 2020, here are a few of the more common questions have been thrown my way.
- Given the difficulty this subject matter brings with it, there will undoubtably be a shortage in properly trained human resources. Will this have a substantial influence on what countries lead in quantum technology.
- Given the projected implications, both positive and negative, of quantum computers and technology, how likely are we to begin to see governments step in and impose regulations in the next few years.
- Right now, where can I go as a business-person to get a solid understanding about quantum computing and prepare myself for what is likely to come?
I thought about these questions for some time. I was asked if I had any recommendations in response to each of the above issues. My responses are below.
- I am hoping that governments recognize they need to invest in the technology education of their citizens way back in the early grades, reward them for their successful completion throughout their education and to do that we must invest in teachers and courseware development and modernization. We must also consider a continuous enlightenment program that updates business professionals as to what can be done using quantum computers and technology. Webinars, case studies, whitepapers, use case development and speeches and demonstrations of results at conferences are likely the top mechanisms that the quantum industry will use to do this.
- It is nearly inevitable that the quantum industry will escape regulation. Look back into the mid to late 90s in the Internet era and you will see how regulations were imposed on a new and growing technology. As I experienced first-hand back then, when I was at Netscape, we will see some of the same challenges. Look at what is currently going on with social media. It sure looks to be following the same or quite similar path. Perhaps the biggest one will be when the quantum computing cloud platform is on one country, the programmers are developing the code to submit the problem are in another and the business wanting the problem to be solved are in a third. All three locations have different regulations and taxes. What laws apply and what fees must be collected? We all should hope that governments move cautiously in their introduction to regulations around quantum technology. This could very easily slow down the pace of quantum computing and technology advancement by making investors much more cautious and concerned.
- When asked about the challenge of keeping business professionals aware of quantum computers and technology evolution, of course, I recommended visiting my monthly articles on this website first and gave some other recommendations. Here are some interesting numbers that help answer that question about educating professionals about quantum computing. First of all, if you go to YouTube and do a search on ‘Basic Understanding Quantum Computing’ you get a load of results. Microsoft Research has a short video as does the IBM Think Academy as well as D-Wave and TED. Secondly, conduct a Google search on ‘Quantum Computing Introduction Webinar’ and restrict the time frame to the last week or month and you will get the latest announcements. When I did this, Google returned over 87 results for that week.
We have begun to see professional services providers create practices around helping business clients understand what they need to know about quantum computing. No one has the answers! They are expectations or forecasts based on the evolution of quantum technology. That being said, understanding the basics and monitoring the evolution should be on the agenda for every member of a board of directors, C-level executive, member of management and professional regardless of industry.