The State of Quantum

Hello everybody Welcome back to the SAS stage I was Going to come out here and go Does anybody remember Quantum Leap The TV show and I thought wait a second They remade it so now you're all up to Date you know what that is Quantum Leap Is where you travel in time but of Course we don't need to talk about Quantum leak TV shows we already have it Quantum is here Quantum Computing is Arriving as we speak so to talk about This we're going to have the state of Quantum a panel consisting of Joe Fitzsimmons from Horizon Quantum and Faye wattleton from ero Q to talk about The state of the industry right now in Quantum and that's going to be moderated By our very own Flying Dutchman Frederick ladenoir come on Fred big Round of applause everybody [Applause] Um [Music] Quantum Leap I don't think I ever saw That We've done these sessions at disrupt for A couple of years now we kind of checked In with the quantum Computing industry And it always seems like yeah it was Still five years out from something Useful so I always enjoy these these Sessions because it always feels like We're inching towards something that's

Inevitable Um but before we get to talk about the Current state I want to talk about the Two of you What the hell possessed you to co-found If I think of something that's difficult Quantum is definitely at the top of that What possessed you to co-found and found A Quantum startup yeah Joe you want to Take that sure I mean for me this was a Fairly easy Choice Um when I started out in my career I've Been working on Quantum Computing uh for Nearly 20 years at this point Um but when I was deciding what to do in University Um I ended up taking theoretical physics But I took it because I wanted to keep Up maths and computer science and Physics but then when it came time to do A PhD I really wanted to work on a kind Of advanced technology I thought it Would be really cool to be part of a Technological revolution of some kind And I figured I need to get a PhD for People to let me work on this kind of Thing and I thought Quantum Computing Would be the best thing Now it turns out that probably I was Wrong on vote counts Um but you definitely you don't need a PhD but Um you know I got into the area worked For a long time as a professor

Um but really came to a point where I Had written a lot of research papers and I felt like the center of gravity was Shifting from Academia to Industry and That the real advances were going to Happen in industry And to be honest I don't really trust Anyone else to determine the direction So I thought I bet I better jump out and Try and do it myself Um so I raised a seed round some of my Group members came out with me and we've Been up and going for about uh four or Four and a half years at this point too Say your background is in many things But not in Quantum Computing or Theoretical physics or anything like That what what made you decide to get Into well I was invited by the two Co my Two co-founders uh Nick Farina and Johannes pollinin uh to join them in This adventure and from the very Beginning the company in the development At Michigan State University Felt that there needed to be someone on The team that had a broader perspective On the science that was being developed And the ambition that was part of Founding arrowq It didn't seem so I suppose because I'm Not a physicist I'm not a mathematician I'm just an ordinary citizen who has Worked in the world of of difficult Ethical challenges my background and my

Most my great notoriety is as the leader Of the Planned Parenthood movement but That Came Upon a foundation of of Nursing and health sciences that gave me A sense of what this journey might be And what we really were confronting in Terms of the ethical challenges that a Science of this proportion would bring My mother was a minister and she was Convinced that if she prayed enough and Preached enough people would follow Certain strict practices in their Conduct and I guess I sort of have that That leaning as well that if we come Together as a broad Community of multi-disciplinary players That we can find a way of consensus that Enables us to handle this technology in A responsible way that is that affects The the lives of everyone in the world That really has that potential sure sure Now just to get this out of the way Right now to set the level What's the state of quantum right now Can I do something useful with a quantum Computer at this point so I I think it's Really important to be clear on this Point that we have not yet reached the Point where Quantum Computing is useful For solving hard computational problems It's just it's a major milestone for the Field there's a lot of noise about What's useful means and so on and maybe It means press releases maybe it means

Education but if you mean solving hard Computational problems that you could Not solve on a conventional computer we Haven't yet crossed that threshold Except when that problem is simulating The Quantum processor Um we now have I would say four to five Uh demonstrations that have come across The across industry and Academia where We've seen demonstrations of quantum Processors that are convincingly hard to Simulate meaning that they can produce Outputs that you can't easily predict on A conventional computer or predict their Output distribution Um so that's a prerequisite for Advantage but it's not advantage in and Of itself it doesn't solve a hard Problem for you but that puts us at a Really interesting time because now There's two paths forward it used to be That the only path forward we had was to Make better and better Hardware until we Got to a point where we could you know Where we would see a real Advantage but Now because we've crossed this hard to Simulate threshold we're at a point Where better insight into algorithms Better insight into how to use these Systems can also lead to Advantage with Existing systems which is what Horizon Does to some degree in a good spot [Laughter] Um but what what is it going to take now

To make that next leap is it we've had This steady stream of advances over the Years is that just going to continue Until we get to Advantage so one thing That has happened in Quantum Computing In the industry in particular is that There was a lot of focus on what were The nisk algorithms and these are Generally kind of variational algorithms Which look a little bit like a neural Network so you guess what a circuit Might look like what a Quantum program Might look like but you have a lot of The parameters undefined and then you Use a training process using stochastic Gradient descent often to train these Things just as you would in neural Network Um and you hope to get them to something That gives you a good output so you're Kind of learning the algorithm learning The circle that solves the problem and You can do this for machine learning Problems variational classifiers you can Do it for optimization and so on But it's like throwing a neural network At an arbitrary problem there's not Really a good uh a good reason to Believe it's going to work without an Awful lot of training and that can Really erode any possible Advantage so I've never really thought that there was Going to be much Um

Reason to believe that we see an Advantage from that but there was a lot Of commercial interest in it because you Know it could potentially lead to Earlier revenue and so on so there's Lots of reasons to want it to work but That's kind of power of wishful thinking So now I think you see the field Starting to get over that to look Beyond This and if you look you know the last 18 months there's been a lot of progress Getting towards error corrected systems Where you're actually squeezing out the Errors and you're getting you're getting To real computers to systems that look More like conventional computers that Are the cerebrum that can actually Implement real algorithms sure what's The state there at Aero queue right now Well the state of the air queue is that We started from the the scaling Perspective that we wanted to build a Computer that would scale and that is a The opposite of the way that most Approaches are taking we felt that the Use of tried and true materials and the Semiconducting science would be Appropriate for us to build the Foundation on our CMOS Level and to move forward from the Larger scale to putting more more qubits On a chip as opposed to starting with a Small chip and building out so we think That we we started with an eye towards

Scalability and the the operative word Was was commercialization but that Wasn't why we started out we started out Saying how can we build a useful chip With what we know and with tried and True methodologies and materials that Will get us to where we need to be more Quickly and we believe that we are very Much on the road to doing so Um you know the question of how do you Get involved in in Quantum and I know That that happens on everyone's mind and I Probably a lot of you here in this Audience that are questioning why am I Sitting here because I'm not a physicist I'm not a mathematician my background is In healthcare And I I say very proudly I was on the Board of Estee Lauder for nine years and I still don't know how to make lipstick But I can imagine what it means for Someone to be able to be beautiful in The world and how that may change the World and I think that's the potential Here of quantum that it has the it will Change the world as we know it in terms Of our capacity to process information To open new knowledge in the area that Was that I come from which is science Health Science and medical science for New drugs for uh just to really it's Going to affect everyone on our planet So I'm delighted to see this room so

Many people here because what you're Saying is maybe we need to take a really Hard look and hopefully at the end of This we'll be saying how can all of us Get involved sure how many people here In the room have actually worked with a Quantum computer yet One two three all right so the rest of You Get started this afternoon then It's about time yeah there's plenty of Them you know Amazon has them in the Clouds it's not a problem Um Joe you brought up Um both of you talking I've talked about The chip manufacturing right the state Of like actually building a Quantum Processor right now feels like that Almost gotten not easy but that's almost A soft problem just that core part the Quantum processor It depends on the technology Um and actually one of the interesting Things that's happening in Quantum Computing at the moment is that you have Quite a few different technologies that Are all capable of universal Quantum Computing that are all starting to Mature So for a long time superconducting Qubits and trapped ions have been the Leading candidates but you also see Purely photonic systems

Um are certainly doing well at the Moment but you're also seeing neutral Atoms so companies like atom and Pascal And qura that are trapping large numbers Of neutral atoms and being able to do Some form of computation on them and Then at the same time you've got silicon Starting to mature which have been for a Long time stuck at one or two qubits now We're seeing six 12 cubits so although It's far behind the 433 qubits that IBM Have at the moment it's still uh it's Coming up quite quickly I should say that when I say a number of Qubits this is you know counting the Memory and a device and it's like saying That you have a computer that has 433 Bits of memory right in total Um so it can't really store a sentence And so they're they're still really at a Very primitive area but if you look at The scaling at the moment one thing That's interesting about Quantum Computing is that the scaling has gone From the number of qubits on a device Doubling once every five years for the First 20 years of the history of quantum Computing to a point where since about 2016 they've started to double Consistently about every eight to nine Months so you've gone from something That was much slower than Moore's law to Something that's now you know twice as Fast as more slow I see you're shaking

Your head there yeah I think that Sometimes when I hear these complex Descriptions of quantum science Development and they're they are Fascinating and I'm dazzled by the Physicist in my company and my Colleagues on a panel but I think that Sometimes it's really harder to Corral People than it is to Corral the quantum Science And that is a major challenge for us and It really is essential that this not be Seen as a closed industry developing a Science that will that is already upon Us the perception that somehow this is Someone's Um Experimental uh process in a lab Someplace in in a and perhaps Steve Jobs Garage those days are passed and this is A time when the revolution will not be Televised and I that tells you a little Bit about how old I am that I talk about Um uh uh uh hearing of Gil Scott herons A very famous song that the revolution Will not be televised because the Revolution is about us and and look at What has happened to chat gbt in the Last six months uh that we people have Many people have not heard about it but Now we hear about all of the the Technology that will impose on our daily Lives and that means that we all have an Obligation in the science along with the

Science to think about the social Implications there are a lot of of Examples uh silamar is one that had to Do with gene therapy And look at how crispr has emerged from That so we can't really say that we Don't have a good Pathway to thinking About these issues and raising these Issues in our Laboratories in our Communities in our churches and in our Schools because it really does mean a Tremendous challenge What are the social implications though Like what what do you what are you Referring to specifically well when I Think about that I think one about will It be held in the hands of a few as the Major technology is held today at the Expense and not of the benefit to those Who do not have access this is now Largely a public private but largely a Private developing science the US Government has in my mind put modest Resources toward the development of this Even though there are security issues Um so there there are there is the Problem of who's going to get the Benefit of this something that has the Potential to really impact the rest of The entire world who will benefit I'm Sitting before you as a woman of color Very worried about what it means for the People from whom I've become what does It mean in terms of the Privacy

Violations that we all worry about every Day when they're when information is More highly powered than it is today and In whose hands and who will decide what That will be so there are a number of Issues mostly the issue of how do we Begin the dialogue that's the tough part Are the anthropologists are the Psychologists looking at this from their Perspective do we have to have the Science upon us and the revolution is Here before we say wait a minute let's Talk about this and we better quickly Regulate it and I think we have time not To do a better job than we've done in The past Do you see an example kind of a Historical example in the world of tech Where things went right or wrong that You can learn from Maybe AI or well I'm not an expert on AI But I certainly am in the world of Health Sciences and that's why I Referred to Asilomar but I I come out of A world where ethical violations are Replete and have been replete not only In health care that have resulted in the Kind of regulatory procedures that all Of us deal with every day but in the Area of reproductive health care and the Violations of of women's bodies in that Regard is is certainly uh Prime examples Of how we can't let these we can't Repeat that the histories of the past

And we have a chance now to get ahead of It and let the AI debate and controversy Inform the lateness of the day that we Begin to have the conversation to build A consensus before we resort to saying All of this must be regulated and the Pushback that that will certainly Engender How do you think about that Joe because You know you're building these systems Too well I I should say Faye is Definitely far better place than me to Have informed opinion on this um But what I would say is that when you Think about what Quantum Computing is it Is essentially better computing If you look back to the uh to the dawn Of the kind of computer age you know From the 1940s on there's a lot of Parallels in terms of the kinds of Algorithms that are developed for Classical Computing and the kinds of Algorithms that are developed for Quantum Computing so you see Cryptanalysis is one of the first Applications you see simulating physical Systems but then you also see various Different kinds of mathematical methods Sorting and searching Um different kinds of things like this Fast on your algebra inferior methods And so on And even machine learning like you start To see these the McCullough bits paper

On the artificial neurons from 1943. Um so you see the same kind of thing With Quantum Computing so perhaps the History of conventional Computing tells Us about a little bit about what the Future of quantum Computing will look Like and perhaps we can learn from past Mistakes in that regard but what I would Also say is that we know some things are Different in Quantum Computing than Conventional Computing so I mean it's Very esoteric but there's a a by now Very well-known mathematical result that Was proved about two years ago showing That when viewed as a proof system Quantum systems are Unimaginably more powerful than Conventional systems so this was called MIP star equals re and it's just about Complexity classes but that is not what We expected the result would be For all of the other complexity classes Where we've gone from a Quantum version A classical version to a Quantum version We've seen that the results look similar And this was a case where the result is Completely different so I think there's Going to be results along the way that We're surprised by That I'm not sure we can foresee so I Agree that we should be I agree that we Should be thinking now about the issues That can arise but I think we also need To be conscious of the fact that there

Are going to be issues that arise that We can't foresee now And I think that this does challenge us To have some imagination as to what what Is potentially the issues that might Arise and and there's no problem with Speculating ahead and projecting what What there may be problems because I Mean I think that for instance food Insecurity is one of planets were most Challenging issues now and with more Data and information is it possible that We we really could address those those Challenges those from fundamental human Rights challenges for the quality of of Life for people on the planet and I I Hope that we we approach the science With that degree of humbleness and that Degree of purpose this is an opportunity For us to do this part of it differently At the same time that it takes nothing From our commitment to the science of These to building these machines but to The obligation to feel that I've got a Responsibility to think about the Implications and how this can be used For for for the betterment of humankind And I'm gonna of course climate change Is one that is frequently raised and Debated uh in terms of just how much We'll learn about climate change but I'd Like to think that we could come up with Better science with respect to the Materials that we use and that we misuse

Uh for a better quality of life on the Planet otherwise why why do this uh why Not why why would we have this kind of Excitement and this investment in a Science that is going to go no place but In the mines and the the egos of the People developing and I'd like to think That we can do better than that Unlike classical Computing though Quantum Computing has almost become a Nation-state issue we've got you know Different Nations really trying to push ahead of Others because the assumption is that There's much to be gained from you know Not just breaking cryptography but but Everything else that comes with it that Complicates all of this though doesn't It So on the cryptography front Um it's it's complicated you're right Um It's Complicated in part by the fact That we should be able to move away from The cryptography that we use now from RSA from Duffy Hellman and move towards Systems uh where we believe them to be Difficult for Quantum Computing I should Say I'm saying we believe I have a maybe A a contrarian view on this which is That I don't actually particularly Believe them to be secure against Quantum attack okay interesting but it's Uh if you can do that then the crypto Analysis isn't a massive problem as as

Long as you have the time to make the Transition and you know For all of the progress that's happening And there is strong progress happening In the field it's still going to take us Time to get to a cryptographically Relevant quantum computer So I think that's a bit of a Canada I Don't I don't think that's really the Main thing of course You do get into things like uh how it May shake up Um economic status quo and so on and Like the economic benefit to be able to Retain uh the capabilities in one Country versus another and so on I think That's more challenging than perhaps People making or thinking about policy Necessarily realize because Quantum Computing came from a field with not Very many people in it for a long time And they were spread out across the World and Everyone has papers together everyone Came up together everyone knows each Other Um so there has been a long period of Collaboration across countries so Actually the current state of the art is Pretty evenly dispersed globally and Putting it into silos Is going to just slow progress and not In a particularly beneficial way because If you're thinking about it from the

Point of view of Um you know that you're thinking about It in an adversarial when you think well I don't want my adversaries to have Certain certain capabilities so I'm Going to hold it from them now that Creates a circumstance where they are Forced to develop it themselves and you Can never you can never cut it off so You just leave that you just You just go to a world where everyone Develops the capability independently I'm not sure that's a I'm not sure That's a better circumstance I mean I Think there are people working on Quantum all over the world but to but to The point of how broadly based this is I Think it still is a pretty small Relatively small community Um I mean would you agree or do you Think it's a big community of people do You you know how do you feel about that It's definitely a small community but I Mean there's many more people have come Into it now but in terms of it like if You look up across people leading Efforts or something like that they all Came from a very small like if you look At the you know the the lead scientists For different programs or something like This they all came from the same Community and that Community was Hundreds to small number of thousands And now it's it's expanding it's

Exponentially yes but But you have to keep in mind that the Way it's expanding is at the at the less Experienced level first because it just Takes time to gain experience well That's that's true we've found that that To be the case which is one of the Reasons why I'm saying that we have to Take responsibility to start even before They're in the business of tackling Attacking these problems Um in terms of just the science Orientation uh to the development and And also I think that when we talk about History in the context of History the Computer is not that old I mean you know And And you know we're not a century into This folks this has been uh the Beginning of the 20th century uh the Quantum scientists if you've seen Oppenheimer and I my my colleagues at Arrowq have certainly coached me Dramatically before having seen that Movie Um people were saying that these were Acts of God you know we can't challenge That and I'm wondering what was Albert Einstein thinking that sounded like my Mother's Ministry my mother's preaching Talking about these were acts of God That we can't change and this is the way It works and just look at where we are That we're defying all those acts of God

Uh in the science that were perceived as That you look worried Laughs That's you Joe not me yeah Um I I actually I I'm not quite sure What you're referring to about that Because of God I just well I mean Albert Einstein felt that that some of the the Quantum principles the principles that That in which we built were really a Defiance of the way nature works I mean this was very much rooted in him Believing in a deterministic universe Where everything could be predicted Forward from the known state of the Current Universe Um and quantum mechanics that's simply Not true or at least our perception We're we're a century away from that I Might that's my point Um That that how this has evolved in church Yes on a really practical note though I Mean you you're touching upon something Is that the workforce In the quantum industry is limited right Now right we've got we had three people In the audience here who've actually Worked with these machines or try to Write Quantum algorithms we're super Early the machines are coming though how Do we scale that work for us because we Can wait for you know schools to start Teaching this but it's a long journey

It's definitely a long journey but we Don't have do we have that much time Like how do you scale up right now to Get people yeah so I I mean what I would Say is generally The way we approach this is usually a in A kind of hierarchical way where you Need one very experienced person to be Able to you know give advice to a Certain number of somewhat less Experienced people and train people as You go Um and that's you know that works it's a Way of doing things we have some people On our team who are at the more Junior End they're recent graduates they're Doing phds while working with us Um so we you know we're they're Full-time employees but they're spending Half the time in the University half Time with us Um so we have to train up in that way However what I would say is that there's Been a lot of recent progress in Adjacent Technologies particularly in Machine learning and the Advent of large Language models yes somebody said large Language models all these sessions cover It now it's like the team for uh weird Um so I mean it does open new Possibilities in terms of how do you Augment expertise like how do you how do You help people do be more capable be More productive than they would normally

Be at that level of experience can you Give them the tools to make more Progress more quickly and I think There's some evidence that actually Llms for example augmented with you know The current open scientific literature And so on do provide some some tools for Being able to do that The conversation has to be made broader It's the the conversation is too narrow The implications of this are global All of us will be affected one way or Another across disciplines and the the Discussion the consensus needs to be Underway and I think that to some degree Chat gbt has accentuated what happens When you don't when something is Perceived to happen very quickly that's Been going on for a long time and trying To Grapple with the implications of it And I There's an opportunity here to Perhaps bring more into the circle of Dialogue of how we would regulate how we Would uh encourage good behavior how we Would would create sanctions for bad Behavior and expulsion for those who Violate human fundamental human rights About which there are international Frameworks for sanctions and for Standards of conduct and the principles Of conduct so I I'm personally very Excited to be in this in this business Because you don't have to be in the lab As these Geniuses are and I'm dazzled

All the time I hear the them discuss it To understand if you have a broad view Of the world or to imagine what your Role might be in helping to bring this To fruition in a way that does not Expand on the violations of the past Technologies that we have all skewed and Hope that we don't repeat Nope we only have a minute left so just Since you brought up chat GPT that was Kind of this breakthrough moment for Generative AI that just happened Yesterday and that pretty much it feels Like it happened yesterday but Do we should we expect a similar moment In Quantum Computing which is they'll Just be this acceleration that we didn't Expect I don't think so okay so in terms of the Way advantages likely to proceed from my Perspective at least is that we are First likely to see a narrow Advantage Where it is really for one problem first And it seems at this point Overwhelmingly likely that that's likely To be a chemistry problem However quite soon after that you would Expect to see multiple problems But we lost your mic I got it for you [Laughter] Had to happen sooner or later Uh yeah I wanted to take the handheld Oh okay so sorry about that

Um yeah so we're at this situation where There's likely to be a narrow advantage In chemistry first that's likely to Start broadening across multiple Categories then following that Long term you expect to see really large Advantages in a number of different Areas that cut across things like Finance and computer-aided Engineering Computational absolute Dynamics uh Computational geophysics and so on And machine learning areas like this but Those are a little bit further off so You're likely to see the narrow Advantage first and then the widening of That Advantage all right So I would go back to the to my original Profession which is medicine and Healthcare when so many of the Breakthroughs in in those Sciences were Made supposedly by surprise with the Late that had gone forth as Joe has has Described so uh it's possible that there Will be some breakthroughs that are not Anticipated today that could come about And bring significant changes in in Quantum who knows but there are examples Of past developments we certainly know That it won't be as long as we had Expected and when I became involved five Years ago with Erica it was still Described as a laboratory experiment and Look at where we are today six years Later that gives us perspective on how

Quickly things can happen and Breakthroughs occur all of the time Medical breakthroughs are the example For which I could give out of the Profession that trained my perspective On this All right well we're out of time I'm Afraid but we'll do this again next year And maybe we'll have that moment then Same place same time we'll meet again Thank you Foreign [Applause]


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