Every once in a while, a convergence of knowledge, progress and will occurs, and changes the course of human history.
I wholly believe we are on the cusp of this with quantum computing.
Ironically not a leap, these moments are typically an accelerating continuum, where things seemingly disparate suddenly come together. People around the world have been working on different pieces of the puzzle; there’s a moment where the whole jigsaw comes into view. From democracy to understanding the evolution process, from fire to the internet, this has happened throughout our time on the planet. How extraordinary that humans get to live through multiple moments of this kind in a normal lifespan.
When it comes to quantum computing, people are making huge strides on both the hardware and software sides. Both provide excellent, real-time illustrations of our near-illusion of progress — the fact that, as a species, we are in a constant state of incremental change. It is, for example, on the shoulders of theoretical physics and mathematical breakthroughs that engineering stands and which, in turn, has led to scalable creations of value: universal Turing machines > transistors > modern computing; E = mc2 > nuclear power > abundant electricity.
Meanwhile, software is solving a lot of the questions oriented around quantum computing: how do you think like a quantum computer — can we — to design the software? Which problems are actually solved best by one? Are there many such problems or only a few? And what frameworks do you need for doing so? Is quantum software design itself an AI problem? And finally, can we build a large scale quantum computer? (We think so).
As each subject advances, it pulls others along with it. The greater the number of advances across all subject areas, the closer we are to a tipping point.
My colleague David Arndt has explored the quantum applications coming to fruition in his State of Quantum write-up.
There is no doubt that some or even many things will continue to be best done in the paradigm of classical computing. The exciting thing at this moment is that, while we know that quantum computing will transform countless industries and areas of life, and how, there will be innumerable areas of change that are still entirely unknown and inconceivable. Truly the unknown unknowns.
Here at Dawn, we’re watching with bated breath. If you’re interested in, or building in the field, we’d love to continue the discussion.