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Cloud-based quantum computing lets startups compete with Goliaths

In the days of working with “supercomputers,” it was clear to me that these beasts capable of churning out MIPS (millions of instructions per second) were too expensive for smaller companies. Only companies that could foot the bill for a high-end supercomputer could benefit from its power to crunch numbers and data at a speed that would set their solutions apart in terms of the innovative value they could bring to the business that could afford it. I felt that this was not fair.

A whole chunk of the economy was cut out of high-end computing power that could have been used for research, development, diagnostics, artificial intelligence, and other applications with intense processing requirements that are too much for affordable hardware to handle. . In fact, this was a key barrier to entry that mega-companies relied on to protect their market position from pesky upstarts who can move much faster.

Of course, the cloud changed everything. What used to require a large investment can now be obtained using a credit card and a cloud account. Today, any business with (fewer) dollars to take advantage of once unaffordable high-end computing services can now access high-performance computing systems, including emerging quantum computing. This game changer has been evolving for the past few years.

Cloud providers such as IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google have invested heavily in quantum computing and offer cloud-based access to their quantum computers, making the technology accessible to mainstream enterprises. Services can be shared among many companies, each paying only for the resources it uses. But it doesn’t end there.

Cloud providers seem to be in on all of this. Vendors now offer tools and frameworks to help companies develop quantum applications. Microsoft’s Quantum Development Kit provides tools and libraries to help developers write and debug quantum programs. IBM’s Qiskit framework provides an open source software development kit for creating quantum programs.

Cloud providers are also investing in education and training to help companies understand and develop quantum applications. IBM offers a Quantum Experience platform that allows users to experiment with quantum computing through a web-based interface. Microsoft offers online courses and training materials to help developers learn about quantum, including building and deploying applications.

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Finally, cloud-based quantum computing providers are helping with the talent and advice needed to use quantum computing effectively. They support collaboration and networking with other organizations and experts in the quantum field at all levels. IBM’s Q Network is a global community of organizations working together to advance quantum computing and explore its potential applications. Developers and architects can participate.

Of course, you have to be careful not to over-apply quantum computing, which I see as the biggest danger. There is a risk that, like artificial intelligence, companies will use quantum computing to solve business problems that don’t really need quantum computing. They will spend 10 times the money and time to solve a problem that could be solved more efficiently with traditional computer technology. I’m seeing this happening right now, which is alarming.

Key applications of quantum computing include traffic optimization, financial modelling, transportation and logistics, materials design, and healthcare diagnostics. Someone writing an accounting application using quantum will find that high-powered technology can also result in a negative value when applied incorrectly.

However, nothing comes without challenges. Hopefully, we can expand the reach of quantum clouds beyond niche industry use cases into broader applications, industries, and problem domains without misapplying it. Cloud providers will need to become more efficient in delivering quantum computing services, including things like handling errors and other issues that occur during normal operations. In addition, they must drive down prices, which many companies continue to find higher than expected.

Startups are often more aggressive and can operate faster than their larger, bloated competition that now owns the market. In the past, they did not compete on a level playing field, but quantum computing can turn the tables in their favor. We may see major disruptions in industries other than taxi systems. At the end of the day, consumers should benefit from this value-driven innovation creation by using cheaper quantities.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

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