BY KIM BELLARD
General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently expressed great concern about China reported test a hypersonic missile: “I don’t know if it’s a Sputnik moment, but I think it’s very close. It got all of our attention. ”Maybe it should, but General Milley may have missed the real version of a 21st century Sputnik moment: China has claimed major breakthroughs in quantum computing.
It is in baseball for those of us who are neither computer experts nor quantum physicists, but let’s put it this way: The countries / companies that dominate quantum computing are going to dominate, period. Health care included.
I am not going to pretend to understand quantum computers or explain how they work, but they are for “traditional” computers, like those computers are for a calculator or an abacus. They are much faster – like a quantum leap faster – and can quickly perform calculations that would take even conventional supercomputers centuries, if at all. For example, do you think you have an unbreakable code? Think again, unless you have the fastest quantum computer.
The global time reported that a Chinese research team has developed a 66-qubit-programmable superconducting quantum computer system that is 10 million times faster than the fastest supercomputer and more than a million times faster than the fastest Sycamore quantum computer from Google. And by the way, China has one second Quantum computer that uses photons (light) instead of electricity and that is “1 septillion times faster than the fastest existing supercomputer in the world”, according to to the Xinhua News Agency.
Hey, look, there’s a hypersonic missile over there!
Skeptics fight about the speed comparisons – a lot depends on the problem and how the computers are programmed – but how IFLScience wrote: “… in terms of sampling problems, quantum computers finally seem to be significantly better than conventional options.” Bill Fefferman, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Chicago, told ZDNet: “Early experiments indicate that this technology holds the promise of solving very interesting problems that cannot be solved classically.”
Google is not resting on its laurels. Sycamore was used that summer to create “time crystals”“, A new form of matter that does not seem to obey the second law of thermodynamics (ie entropy always wins). What this means for quantum computing or physics in general is not yet clear, but it is a big breakthrough.
Meanwhile Amazon and Caltech are based on partnership to build a new branch of the AWS Center for Quantum Computing on the Caltech campus. The common goal is to “develop quantum computers and related technologies that have the potential to revolutionize data security, machine learning, medical development, sustainability practices and more”. It is the first such corporate partnership for Caltech.
Caltech professor Oskar Painter, who also heads quantum hardware at AWS, emphasizes that this is still in the early days of quantum computers: “If we just picked up on today’s ideas and carried on, we would create the dinosaur of a quantum computer.” Caltech Fellow- Professor Fernando Brandão, who also leads quantum algorithms at AWS, says: “There is a new paradigm in computing. It’s not just about making our current computers a little faster or a little better, as we’ve seen for at least the last 50 years. It’s about building a completely new kind of computer. “
Nadia Carlsten, Product Manager of the AWS Center, look upshall I say quantum breakthroughs: “The quantum algorithms that have the greatest potential for significant effects, for example in industries such as manufacturing or pharmaceuticals, cannot be solved simply by expanding today’s quantum technologies.”
IBM also did Quantum computing a focus, specification that quantum computing “is about to trigger a paradigm shift”. Microsoft and Intel also rely heavily on quantum computing, as do more specialized companies such as Cambridge Quantum Computing, D-wave, and Rigetti computing.
Health care is a big reason for this. Read any article on the potential impact of quantum computing and healthcare is always listed as one of the two or three sectors that will have the greatest impact (the military, of course, is another common one). For example, the AWS announcement referred to “medical development”. ZDNet just published “Eight ways quantum computers will change the world“, Which” Discovering new drugs “listed as No. 1.
The article notes, “However, quantum computers have the potential to one day solve the problem of molecular simulation in minutes … This would mean that life-saving drugs, which currently take an average of 10 years to get to market, are being developed faster could – and much cheaper. “
David Cowan, one of Rigetti’s main investors, explained to Forbes’ Kevin Dowd, why he was so interested in quantum computers: “I mean, simply put, cure cancer.”
Mr. Dowd continues:
Perhaps the most exciting applications of quantum computing are in medicine. There are trillions of atoms in every cell and trillions of cells in the human body, all of which interact with one another in an incessant biological dance. Current superconductors are really powerful machines, but unwinding this type of choreography is beyond their reach.
This won’t happen overnight. Quantum computers are not entirely stable, not entirely flexible, not entirely available. Your local hospital or medical group is likely to have more immediate concerns. A hospital CIO told Becker’s Hospital Review: “I expect it will likely take another 3 to 5 years to innovate hardware and related applications to create a quantum computing ecosystem that can really benefit the healthcare industry.”
This is probably a safe bet, but switching to a new technology in 3 to 5 years time means most healthcare organizations had to start using it 3 to 5 years ago. It is certain that the big health insurers and huge health systems like The Mayo Clinic or The Cleveland Clinic are already thinking about it.
If you believe that big data, artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, the Internet of Things, or the confidentiality of patient records in healthcare will be important – and I certainly do – then quantum computing will also be important. This “Internet” that you think you know now and that you rely on? We may still be in the early days of quantum computers, but people are already working on the “Quantum internet. “
The world will change, and quantum computers will enable many of the things that they will change. Healthcare should see the latest developments as a Sputnik moment.
Kim is a former e-marketing manager on a major blues plan, editor of the late & defendant Tincture.io, and now a regular THCB contributor.
Thank You For Reading!