(ZDNet) Experts are increasingly turn their attention to whether quantum computers could provide solutions to one of the greatest challenges of our time: climate change.
As noted by Q4Climate, an organization that gathers experts at the intersection of quantum research and climate sciences, the field of research applying itself to finding out how quantum computers could help fight climate change is currently almost non-existent.
But things are slowly changing. For example, leading quantum software company Zapata Computing has established that the technology could have an impact on various goals outlined by the United Nations for sustainable development, ranging from clean water and sanitation to affordable and clean energy.
Quantum computing is a nascent technology –and as such, any assessment of its future capabilities has to be put into perspective.
“Q4Climate is not saying that quantum computing will solve the climate change problem,” Alexandre Blais, who sits on Q4Climate’s advisory board, tells ZDNet. “All we are saying is that as scientists, we need to pay attention and see if we can help. At this stage, we are only pointing out interesting areas of research and hoping that experts in these areas will take on the challenge.”
“Climate change is unfortunately a long-term problem,” says Blais. “If we take action now, we will still have to be paying attention to this problem in 10, 20, 40 years. Those are the timescales we are looking at.”
The immediate focus, therefore, is to ramp up efforts to build large-scale quantum computers that can run useful algorithms – a goal that governments and companies are heavily investing in, and where there is no shortage of activity.
The next stage, however, and possibly the harder one, will be to incentivize quantum research groups to apply their efforts to climate-focused use cases for quantum computers. The potential exists, and the results could be game-changing. Making them a reality, however, could be easier said than done.