(UK.Government) The UK’s emerging Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities could achieve a decisive step-change by adopting current and near-term quantum technologies.
According to a research paper published by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), on behalf of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and in collaboration with UK Strategic Command “Quantum Information Processing Landscape 2020: Prospects for UK Defence and Security”, DSTL/TR121783 (PDF, 3.02MB, 144 pages), embracing quantum technology now could lead to the enhanced pace, precision and pre-emption of decision making by military commanders.
Dstl’s report identified commercially available quantum computers – ‘annealers’ – as having the potential to run an important and versatile class of AI software at speeds vastly in excess of normal digital computers. This software is based on an algorithm called a ‘neural net’; a mature and proven method of pattern-matching, which imposes extremely high loads on a classical digital computer architecture. However, the unique properties of a quantum annealer means that it can execute a neural net in one machine cycle instead of thousands or millions.
Dstl’s report is being released for input and comment from the defence community including industry and academia. After review, key findings and recommendations will be added and the document will be finalised to create an authoritative evidence base to support future investment decisions. Subject to funding, a benchmark exercise could commence during 2020. If benchmarking confirms the review’s findings, an in service initial operating capability could be realised as soon as 2025. This would help build quantum expertise in MOD and ensure an organisation ‘quantum-ready’ for the future.

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