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Quantum Particulars Guest Column: “History-Driven Predictions for the Quantum Landscape in Asia”

Guest author Brian Siegelwax lays out historical-based predictions of quantum computing ecosystems within Asia and beyond.
By Guest Author posted 18 Jan 2024

“Quantum Particulars” is an editorial guest column featuring exclusive insights and interviews with quantum researchers, developers, and experts looking at key challenges and processes in this field. This article focuses on the history of quantum computing in Asia, written by Brian Siegelwax, an independent quantum algorithm developer, author, and freelance writer. 

The Asian continent is a large canvas, and it’s hard to paint one picture of the entire landscape. However, it is a landscape with many flat regions where quantum ecosystems either don’t exist or information about them is not forthcoming. Therefore, a partial landscape can be painted that illustrates what is known and from which information about the other areas can be inferred.

This is not meant to be a research paper with an exhaustive survey of dozens of countries. Links follow, but they are to news sources circulated on social media within the past year or so. Also, a non-zero percentage of it is anecdotal.

18+ Quantum Ecosystems

QURECA has identified government programs in China, India, Israel, Japan, Qatar, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand. Besides India, Japan, and The Philippines, OneQuantum has chapters in Nepal, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Vietnam. Besides chapters in India and UAE, QWorld has chapters in Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, and Turkey. Therefore, we know that more than 1/3 of Asian countries have quantum activity. 

However, we also know that there are more than two global organizations OneQuantum and QWorld. There are also local organizations out there. For example, I know that a local quantum computing club was rebranded to become OneQuantum Philippines. I also know that the UAE and Vietnam chapters of OneQuantum are quite new. Therefore, it is easy to predict that more ecosystems will emerge in Asia and enter the global stage.

Countless Partnerships

There are too many partnerships within Asia to list. One challenge in quantum is that partnerships are announced, publicity is enjoyed, and nothing comes to fruition. So, instead of listing every possible announcement, here are three classifications of partnerships, with one example of each:

Again, these are just examples and are not commentary on the actual strength of each partnership. However, because Asia partnerships are announced so frequently, it is easy to predict that new partnerships will continue to be announced and that more countries will be involved over time.

7+ Ecosystems with Indigenous Projects

One measure of an ecosystem is the ability not just to use quantum technology but also to develop it. Roughly 1/8 of Asian countries have easy-to-find initiatives:

One lesser-known project is a Philippines initiative to build a quantum computer simulator. I haven’t seen it promoted outside the country. Therefore, other countries, especially those with government funding, likely have hard-to-find initiatives. At a minimum, because of national security considerations, it is easy to predict that more countries will seek indigenous computing and communication solutions.

2+ Ecosystems with Global Reception

Another measure of a quantum ecosystem is foreign interest. Unfortunately, if partnerships are ignored and physical presences are stressed, there is very little to find:

There are some companies that, for whatever reasons, are just not interested in the Pacific region. However, there are some large economies to be found. One prediction could be that Western startups, with sufficient funding, will eventually start approaching these Asian ecosystems. But another prediction could be that the companies engaged with Japan and Singapore now will have the bases of operation to expand throughout Asia more quickly.

2+ Ecosystems with Global Reach

Yet another measure of a quantum ecosystem, and perhaps the most significant one at that, is exports. However, indigenous projects are still limited to relatively few countries. Like the above section on global reception, examples are hard to find:

A prediction here is highly correlated with the number and maturity of indigenous projects. Israel and Japan have strong ecosystems and are first onto the world stage, but more indigenous projects are in the pipeline. Some percentage of them are likely to end up on the world stage, as well.  

Brain Drain

One of Asia’s biggest challenges facing the quantum landscape is “brain drain.” Talented individuals from many Asian countries can earn much higher incomes in North America and Europe. As Asian countries develop their future workforces, many or most of these individuals will build foreign ecosystems. Fortunately, this isn’t some great mystery. While solutions may not be easy to come by, it is easy to predict that affected ecosystems will introduce measures to encourage staying at home and patriotically building domestic ecosystems.

A Note on China

There’s too much misinformation to speculate about China’s ecosystem. Therefore, the only prediction that can be made is that misinformation will continue to be announced and misinformation will continue to spread. All of the quantum computing technology that is publicly available, including the quantum computer in the most recent announcement out of China, is thoroughly unimpressive. Proclamations about other technologies in Asia should be received with due skepticism.

Brian N. Siegelwax is an independent Quantum Algorithm Designer. He is known for his contributions to the field of quantum computing, particularly in the design of quantum algorithms. He has evaluated numerous quantum computing frameworks, platforms, and utilities and has shared his insights and findings through his writings. Siegelwax is also an author and has written books such as “Dungeons & Qubits” and “Choose Your Own Quantum Adventure”. He regularly writes on Medium about various topics related to quantum computing. His work includes practical applications of quantum computing, reviews of quantum computing products, and discussions on quantum computing concepts.

Categories: Guest article, quantum computing, research

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