(ScientificAmerican) IBM Research Director Dario Gil predicts “. .that quantum computers will undergo the same stages of development as classical computers have over multiple decades—but much faster, within just this decade.”
A decade ago, there were just a few dozen research groups who could code in quantum. When IBM launched its online platform Quantum Experience in 2016, giving everyone free access to quantum processors through the cloud, that number grew to a few thousand within just a week. Four years later, the number of programmers experimenting with quantum algorithms numbers in the hundreds of thousands.
Gil predicts that “soon all that quantum computing researchers and enthusiasts will need is a quantum app store and a line of code. Not an app store like in your smartphone, but similar to a code repository of today.”
Until the 1970’s, only those who knew how to write software were able to use mainframe computers. And in the 1970s, when companies like IBM and Apple began building and selling the first personal computers it was often left to software enthusiasts to write applications that would run on them. Rapidly, software businesses took the lead, and as personal computers became more mainstream, users could assemble their own software stack without having deep computer knowledge. We saw a repeat of this with mobile devices in the 2000s—very quickly, people with no programming experience began creating apps and designing Web sites.
Quantum computers hold the same promise. First, enthusiast-programmers; then, developers; and eventually, quantum circuit repositories—or perhaps libraries—with both open-source and copyright-protected circuits, a natural extension of the software ecosystem of today.
Today, quantum enthusiasts have to know quantum programming, gates and circuits. If they don’t, they can’t write code for a quantum computer, and can’t create or use a quantum circuit. But that’s only temporary, as we are still at the dawn of the age of quantum computers. It’s just a matter of time before developers start designing more and more circuits for their specific purposes, from machine learning, to optimization, to scientific calculations.
Frictionless quantum computing. Just a line of code, that’s all it’ll take to get a result on your classical machine through the cloud—while behind the scenes, invisible to the user, the quantum mystery will unfold, with superposition, entanglement and interference.
Gil closes with this thought, “If you ask me, the future is nearly here”.