Quantum computing metaphorically left the lab in 2021 and entered public discourse amid the typical hype cycle of any emerging technology – with a funding frenzy to match. While a number of companies have claimed to be close to achieving a working quantum computer, the technology is still some way off. In addition, artificial intelligence (AI) has somewhat stolen quantum computing’s novel technology spotlight over the last year.
However, quantum computing’s potential to enact change in so many areas, including AI, is simply too great for research and investment to stop, according to GlobalData’s 2023 Thematic Intelligence Quantum Computing report. As per the research company’s deals database, the value of all deals in 2023 by the third quarter had already far exceeded that of the total investment for 2022.
While the hype around quantum computing appears to have climaxed, the technology remains top of mind for technology leaders across all business sectors. GlobalData’s company filing database found that while mentions of quantum computing peaked in Q2 2022, the focus on quantum computing for many organisations remains steady.
Most estimations put quantum supremacy – the point at which quantum computers surpass classical computers in computational power and accuracy – within a timeframe ranging from five to 20 years. However, according to GlobalData’s 2023 Thematic Intelligence Quantum Computing report: “Any predictions about the market in quantum computing are educated at best given its nascence and the prospect of unanticipated breakthroughs.”
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And while quantum computing remains on the cusp of commercialisation, early adoption and exploration by businesses is already well underway.
What exactly is quantum computing?
Today’s classical computers are based on information stored on binary bits, which are transistors represented by either 0s or 1s. The computing power is linear and increases with the number of transistors. This means that the main limitation of classical computing is a finite level of processing power that can be held on a chip. All calculations are deterministic with the same input resulting in the same output, and all processing is carried out in sequential order.
Instead of classic computing’s binary processing, quantum computing uses the properties of quantum physics: the counterintuitive behaviour of subatomic particles that results in the quantum states of superposition and entanglement. Quantum computing bits are called qubits and have the ability to represent 0 and 1 simultaneously. By increasing qubits, the computational power grows exponentially, not linearly.
For example, think about the problem of finding a way out of a complex maze where there are millions of possible exit routes. A classical computer