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After the Science: What Quantum Computing Might Look Like for Australia

By IQT News posted 22 Mar 2021

(CRN.au) CRN in Australia takes a look at the potential ways that quantum computing may change the IT industry, what it might look like for Australia, and how you can be ready to benefit from the changes that it will bring. The author states, “To be clear, this is not about the science behind quantum computing.”

Where are we in quantum computing?
Quantum computers today are where classical computers were in the 1950s. Think those ENIAC room-sized computers with specific use-cases that take specialist knowledge and scientific know-how to be able to control them even a little.
All that is to say, we’ve reached a new level but there’s still a long way to go.

What’s next?
AI/ML specialist provider Max Kelsen has a dedicated team of researchers who are using machine learning to improve quantum computing algorithms. “I’m challenged by seeing how in the near term the technology lives up to the hype because it is going to take us a long time to really do useful things and production things out of this technology,” said chief executive Nicholas Therkelsen-Terry
He explained that in the (relatively) near future, use-cases for quantum computing will be very similar to those for high-performance computing (HPC).

And after that?
Archer Materials are not the only Australian company working on bringing quantum processors that function at room temperature to life.
Quantum Brilliance was founded as a startup that is working on using diamond technology to achieve that lofty goal. Co-founder and chief executive Dr Andrew Horsley said that a slightly different approach may bring quantum computing into the mainstream sooner than expected.

What should we do now?
Although Australia has been a leader when it comes to quantum science, we are at risk of losing out to international efforts when it comes to the tricky task of translating that science into industry. Dr Chris Ferrie is an associate professor of the University of Technology Sydney’s Centre for Quantum Software and Information and he explained the value that maintaining our leadership will bring to Australia’s IT industry as a whole.
While government grants for endeavours like startups working on commercialising quantum tech would be hugely beneficial, one of the most valuable things that we can do right now is start talking and learning.

A new realm
You no longer have to be a quantum physicist to learn how to work with quantum systems. Ferrie told me that he is currently teaching a course on how to code for quantum computers to students who may have never taken any tertiary physics papers.
“You don’t need to understand how to change the state of a transistor to write an app for smartphones,” Ferrie explained.
“The paradigm shift is going to be when we create tools, layers of abstraction, and develop some quantum programming language that doesn’t require you to know quantum physics. Then people will use those tools and create something.”

One last thing
It is important to remember that quantum computing is not going to burst onto the scene and revolutionise everything overnight. Like any technology, it will take time, money, skill and collaboration, and the benefits will likely creep up slowly until one day we look back and realise how far we’ve come.

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