(FastCompany) IQT-NEWS summarizes Fast Company’s recent interview with IBM CEO Arvind Krishn. Fast Company named IBM to its Most Innovative Companies list in 2020 for the company’s on-location incubators, which are helping small startups and organizations transform their business via tech, such as a wireless company that was able to turn older cars into voice-enabled smart cars.
IBM is already preparing for its next reinvention. Quantum computing spent a long time in the realm of the theoretical. Now it’s in the realm of research labs, including IBM’s. And soon—very soon, if you ask Krishna—it will escape the lab and begin making a real difference in the business world. IBM, of course, wants to be front and center when that happens.
IBM finished its first quantum system, the IBM Q System One, in 2019. The System One is a 20-qubit system, meaning that it operates on 20 quantum bits. These qubits are the basic units of computing, comparable to the atomic-size bits used in regular computers. Bits, however, can exist only in two states—one or zero. This is known as “superposition” in quantum physics, and it opens up new vistas of opportunity for scientists trying to model complex problems.
Superposition is why quantum computers may eventually be useful in solving problems that concern levels of risk, such as in logistics, supply chain management, or resource optimization.
“All of these problems are probabilistic in nature,” Krishna said. “A digital computer works at hard zeros and ones—you’re not trying to impose probability on it. Quantum computing is probabilistic by nature; it lives in that maybe/maybe-not state. And so those problems map naturally onto a quantum computer.”
1,000 qubits and beyond
Krishna believes that quantum computers, including IBM’s, will begin growing in size toward 1,000-qubit systems. “We put out a road map saying a thousand cubits by the end of 2023.”
“And once it starts, it’s going to take off like a rocket ship . . .,” Krishna told Fast Company. “Because let’s suppose one capital markets institution uses it to get a better price arbitrage on some financial instrument, don’t you think everybody else will want to do it then, instantly?”