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IQT’s “Journal Club:” Assessing the Quantum-Computing Landscape Based on Market Readiness and Investment Levels

A new paper in Communications of the ACM assesses the current investment level and market readiness of the quantum computing landscape.
By Kenna Hughes-Castleberry posted 19 Apr 2024

IQT’s “Journal Club” is a weekly article series that breaks down a recent quantum technology research paper and discusses its impacts on the quantum ecosystem. In this article, we focus on a recent paper published in Communications of the ACM, written by Advait Deshpande, a lecturer at the School of
Computing & Communications at The Open University in the U.K. This paper discusses the current quantum computing landscape, specifically focusing on market readiness and investment levels. 

Assessing the Current Landscape of Quantum Computing

To analyze the current landscape of the quantum computing industry, Deshpande did a meticulous literature review to scrutinize the readiness of quantum technologies for commercial deployment and the depth of investment from various sectors.

Initially, he conducted a targeted search using Google Scholar to locate peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers using specific keywords related to quantum computing and market dynamics. This first round predominantly yielded technical articles, prompting the researchers to expand their search to include grey literature—such as technology consulting reports, blogs, and news articles—by utilizing a broader Google search to capture insights from industry trends and market analysis.

The search was refined to focus on articles published post-2010 and in English to ensure relevance and comprehensibility. The selected documents—initially 48, with an additional 43 sourced through reference snowballing—were then scrutinized to extract and categorize key findings concerning definitions, development approaches, market readiness, investment levels, and future implications of quantum technologies.

This rigorous approach helped form a nuanced understanding of the current state and potential trajectory of quantum computing, guiding the study’s narrative toward a critical evaluation of its opportunities and the challenges ahead.

What Does the Current Landscape Look Like?

Deshpande’s literature review results reveal several critical insights into this emerging technology’s current state and prospects. Firstly, the review highlighted that quantum computing is predominantly in the experimental and development phase, with hardware primarily designed for specific, high-level tasks rather than general-purpose computing. Current quantum computers, characterized as noisy intermediate-scale quantum (NISQ) devices exhibit significant limitations, such as high error rates and short coherence times, which challenge their practical usability.

The review also uncovered a robust level of investment from multiple sectors, indicating a strong belief in the potential of quantum technologies. Big tech companies, startups, and nation-states are heavily investing in the research and development of quantum computing, with substantial public and private funds being directed toward advancing this field. This investment is driven by the expectation that quantum computing will lead to breakthroughs in various domains, such as cryptography, complex material science, and optimization problems.

Moreover, the study pointed out the hype surrounding quantum computing, contrasting it with the reality of current technological capabilities. There is a concern that the excitement might lead to inflated expectations similar to the early days of AI, potentially culminating in a period of reduced enthusiasm and funding if the promised breakthroughs do not materialize swiftly.

Market-Readiness and Investment Implications

The broader implications of Deshpande’s findings suggest a cautious optimism regarding the transformative potential of quantum computing. While the technology promises to revolutionize fields ranging from cryptography to complex system modeling and healthcare, the current technological limitations and the hype surrounding quantum advancements could overshadow realistic timelines and capabilities.

The study calls for sustained investment in research and practical developments. It highlights the importance of managing expectations and maintaining robust funding to avoid a potential quantum winter, similar to historical downturns in AI research enthusiasm.

The study provides a critical overview of the current state of quantum computing, highlighting both its potential and its challenges. It serves as a call to action for researchers, policymakers, and industry leaders to foster developments in quantum technology while tempering expectations with the realities of current technological capabilities and market readiness. This balanced approach ensures that the quantum computing landscape evolves innovatively and is grounded in realistic expectations.

Kenna Hughes-Castleberry is the Managing Editor at Inside Quantum Technology and the Science Communicator at JILA (a partnership between the University of Colorado Boulder and NIST). Her writing beats include deep tech, quantum computing, and AI. Her work has been featured in National Geographic, Scientific American, Discover Magazine, New Scientist, Ars Technica, and more.

Categories: Education, quantum computing, research

Tags: Advait Deshpande, market readiness, quantum computing landscape

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