Category Archives: Quantum Computing

Clearing the way toward robust quantum computing – MIT News

MIT researchers have made a significant advance on the road toward the full realization of quantum computation, demonstrating a technique that eliminates common errors in the most essential operation of quantum algorithms, the two-qubit operation or gate.

Despite tremendous progress toward being able to perform computations with low error rates with superconducting quantum bits (qubits), errors in two-qubit gates, one of the building blocks of quantum computation, persist, says Youngkyu Sung, an MIT graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science who is the lead author of a paper on this topic published today in Physical Review X. We have demonstrated a way to sharply reduce those errors.

In quantum computers, the processing of information is an extremely delicate process performed by the fragile qubits, which are highly susceptible to decoherence, the loss of their quantum mechanical behavior. In previous research conducted by Sung and the research group he works with, MIT Engineering Quantum Systems, tunable couplers were proposed, allowing researchers to turn two-qubit interactions on and off to control their operations while preserving the fragile qubits. The tunable coupler idea represented a significant advance and was cited, for example, by Google as being key to their recent demonstration of the advantage that quantum computing holds over classical computing.

Still, addressing error mechanisms is like peeling an onion: Peeling one layer reveals the next. In this case, even when using tunable couplers, the two-qubit gates were still prone to errors that resulted from residual unwanted interactions between the two qubits and between the qubits and the coupler. Such unwanted interactions were generally ignored prior to tunable couplers, as they did not stand out but now they do. And, because such residual errors increase with the number of qubits and gates, they stand in the way of building larger-scale quantum processors. The Physical Review X paper provides a new approach to reduce such errors.

We have now taken the tunable coupler concept further and demonstrated near 99.9 percent fidelity for the two major types of two-qubit gates, known as Controlled-Z gates and iSWAP gates, says William D. Oliver, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, MIT Lincoln Laboratory fellow, director of the Center for Quantum Engineering, and associate director of the Research Laboratory of Electronics, home of the Engineering Quantum Systems group. Higher-fidelity gates increase the number of operations one can perform, and more operations translates to implementing more sophisticated algorithms at larger scales.

To eliminate the error-provoking qubit-qubit interactions, the researchers harnessed higher energy levels of the coupler to cancel out the problematic interactions. In previous work, such energy levels of the coupler were ignored, although they induced non-negligible two-qubit interactions.

Better control and design of the coupler is a key to tailoring the qubit-qubit interaction as we desire. This can be realized by engineering the multilevel dynamics that exist, Sung says.

The next generation of quantum computers will be error-corrected, meaning that additional qubits will be added to improve the robustness of quantum computation.

Qubit errors can be actively addressed by adding redundancy, says Oliver, pointing out, however, that such a process only works if the gates are sufficiently good above a certain fidelity threshold that depends on the error correction protocol. The most lenient thresholds today are around 99 percent. However, in practice, one seeks gate fidelities that are much higher than this threshold to live with reasonable levels of hardware redundancy.

The devices used in the research, made at MITs Lincoln Laboratory, were fundamental to achieving the demonstrated gains in fidelity in the two-qubit operations, Oliver says.

Fabricating high-coherence devices is step one to implementing high-fidelity control, he says.

Sung says high rates of error in two-qubit gates significantly limit the capability of quantum hardware to run quantum applications that are typically hard to solve with classical computers, such as quantum chemistry simulation and solving optimization problems.

Up to this point, only small molecules have been simulated on quantum computers, simulations that can easily be performed on classical computers.

In this sense, our new approach to reduce the two-qubit gate errors is timely in the field of quantum computation and helps address one of the most critical quantum hardware issues today, he says.

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Clearing the way toward robust quantum computing - MIT News

Heres How Quantum Computers Will Really Affect Cryptocurrencies – Forbes

Cryptocurrency

Theres been a lot of focus recently on encryption within the context of cryptocurrencies. Taproot being implemented in bitcoin has led to more cryptographic primitives that make the bitcoin network more secure and private. Its major upgrade from a privacy standpoint is to make it impossible to distinguish between multi-signature and single-signature transactions. This will, for example, make it impossible to tell which transactions involve the opening of Lightning Network channels versus regular base layer transactions. The shift from ECDSA signatures to Schnorr signatures involves changes and upgrades in cryptography.

Yet these cryptographic primitives might need to shift or transition in the face of new computers such as quantum computers. If you go all the way back down to how these technologies work, they are built from unsolved mathematical problems something humans havent found a way to reduce down to our brains capacity for creativity yet limited memory retrieval, or a computers way of programmed memory retrieval. Solving those problems can create dramatic breaks in current technologies.

I sat down with Dr. Jol Alwen, the chief cryptographer of Wickr, the encrypted chat app, to talk about post-quantum encryption and how evolving encryption standards will affect cryptocurrencies. Heres a summary of the insights:

Despite all of the marketing hype around quantum computing and quantum supremacy, the world isnt quite at the stage where the largest (publicly disclosed) quantum computer can meaningfully break current encryption standards. That may happen in the future, but commercially available quantum computers now cannot meaningfully dent the encryption standards cryptocurrencies are built on.

Quantum computer and encryption experts are not communicating with one another as much as they should. This means that discrete advances in quantum computing may happen with a slight lag in how encryption would operate. Its been the case that nation-states, such as China, have been going dark on research related to quantum this has the effect of clouding whether or not serious attempts can be made on the encryption standards of today, and disguising the sudden or eventual erosion of encryption a sudden break that might mean devastation for cryptocurrencies and other industries that rely on cryptography.

Its been known that many encryption schemes that defeat classical computers may not be able to defeat a sufficiently powerful quantum computer. Grovers algorithm is an example. This is a known problem and with the continued development of quantum computers, will likely be a significant problem in a matter of time.

Encryption standards being diluted now is not only a risk for the future, but also an attack on the conversations and transactions people will have to remain private in the past as well. Past forms of encryption that people relied upon would be lost the privacy they assumed in the past would be lost as well.

Cryptographic primitives are baked into cryptocurrencies regardless of their consensus algorithm. A sudden shift in encryption standards will damage the ability for proof-of-work miners or those looking to demonstrate the cryptographic proof that theyve won the right to broadcast transactions in the case of proof-of-stake designs such as the one proposed by Ethereum. Digital signatures are the common point of vulnerability here, as well as the elliptic curve cryptography used to protect private keys.

Everything here breaks if the digital signatures are no longer valid anybody with access to public keys could then spend amounts on other peoples behalf. Wallet ownership would be up for grabs. says Dr. Alwen. Proof-of-work or proof-of-stake as a consensus algorithm would be threatened as well in all cases, the proof would no longer be valid and have it be authenticated with digital signatures anybody could take anybody elses blocks.

While proof-of-work blocks would have some protection due to the increasingly specialized hardware (ASICs) being manufactured specifically for block mining, both systems would have vulnerabilities if their underlying encryption scheme were weakened. Hashing might be less threatened but quantum compute threatens key ownership and the authenticity of the system itself.

Post-quantum encryption is certainly possible, and a shift towards it can and should be proactive. Theres real stuff we can do. Dr. Alwen says here. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies may take some time to move on this issue, so any preparatory work should be regarded as important, from looking at benefits and costs you can get a lot of mileage out of careful analysis.

Its helped here by the fact that there is a good bottleneck in a sense: there are only really two or three types of cryptographic techniques that need replacement. Digital signatures and key agreement are the two areas that need the focus. Patching these two areas will help the vast majority of vulnerabilities that might come from quantum computation.

Its important to note that a sudden and critical break in encryption would affect other industries as well and each might have different reasons why an attack would be more productive or they might be more slow to react. Yet if there were a revolution tomorrow, this would pose a clear and direct threat to the decentralization and security promises inherent in cryptocurrencies. Because of how important encryption and signatures are to cryptocurrencies, its probable that cryptocurrency communities will have many more debates before or after a sudden break, but time would be of the essence in this scenario. Yet, since encryption is such a critical part of cryptocurrencies, there is hope that the community will be more agile than traditional industries on this point.

If a gap of a few years is identified before this break happens, a soft fork or hard fork that the community rallies around can mitigate this threat along with new clients. But it requires proactive changes and in-built resistance, as well as keeping a close eye on post-quantum encryption.

It is likely that instead of thinking of how to upgrade the number of keys used or a gradual change, that post-quantum encryption will require dabbling into categories of problems that havent been used in classical encryption. Dr. Alwen has written about lattice-based cryptography as a potential solution. NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology currently responsible for encryption standards has also announced a process to test and standardize post-quantum public-key encryption.

Hardware wallets are in principle the way to go now for security in a classical environment Dr. Alwen points out, having done research in the space. The fact that theyre hard to upgrade is a problem, but its much better than complex devices like laptops and cell phones in terms of the security and focus accorded to the private key.

In order to keep up with cryptography and its challenges, MIT and Stanford open courses are a good place to start to get the basic terminology. There is for example, an MIT Cryptography and Cryptanalysis course on MIT OpenCourseWare and similar free Stanford Online courses.

There are two areas of focus: applied cryptography or theory of cryptography. Applied cryptography is a field that is more adjacent to software engineering, rather than math-heavy cryptography theory. An important area is to realize what role suits you best when it comes to learning: making headway on breaking cryptography theory or understanding from an engineering perspective how to implement solid cryptography.

When youre a bit more advanced and focused on cryptography theory, Eprint is a server that allows for an open forum for cryptographers to do pre-prints. Many of the most important developments in the field have been posted there.

Forums around common cryptography tools help with applied cryptography as well as some of the cryptography theory out there: the Signal forums, or the Wickr blog are examples.

Cryptocurrencies are co-evolving with other technologies. As computers develop into different forms, there are grand opportunities, from space-based cryptocurrency exchange to distributed devices that make running nodes accessible to everybody.

Yet, in this era, there will also be new technologies that force cryptocurrencies to adapt to changing realities. Quantum computing and the possibility that it might eventually break the cryptographic primitives cryptocurrencies are built on is one such technology. Yet, its in the new governance principles cryptocurrencies embody that might help them adapt.

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Heres How Quantum Computers Will Really Affect Cryptocurrencies - Forbes

New quantum computing company will set the pace – Cambridge Network

Cambridge Quantum Computing, a quantum computing and algorithm company founded by Ilyas Khan, Leader in Residence and a Fellow in Management Practice at Cambridge Judge Business School, announced it will combine with Honeywell Quantum Solutions, a unit of US-based Honeywell, which has been an investor in Cambridge Quantum since 2019.

Ilyas was also the inaugural Chairman of the Stephen Hawking Foundation, is a fellow commoner of St Edmunds College, and was closely involved in the foundation of the Accelerate Cambridge programme run by the Business Schools Entrepreneurship Centre.

The new company is extremely well-positioned to lead the quantum computing industry by offering advanced, fully integrated hardware and software solutions at an unprecedented pace, scale and level of performance to large high-growth markets worldwide, Cambridge Quantum said in an announcement.

The combination will form the largest, most advanced standalone quantum computing company in the world, setting the pace for what is projected to become a $1 trillion quantum computing industry over the next three decades, Honeywell said in a companion announcement.

The new company, which will be formally named at a later date, will be led by Cambridge Quantum founder Ilyas Khan as Chief Executive with Tony Uttley of Honeywell Quantum Solutions as President. Honeywell Chairman and CEO Darius Adamczyk will serve on the board of directors as the Chairman. Honeywell will have a 54% share of the merged entity, which was dubbed by publication Barrons as the Apple of Quantum Computing, and CQCs shareholders will have a 46% share.

In addition, Honeywell will invest between $270 million to $300 million in the new company. Cambridge Quantum was founded in 2014, and has offices in Cambridge, London and Oxford, and abroad in the US, Germany and Japan.

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New quantum computing company will set the pace - Cambridge Network

Honeywell joins hands with Cambridge Quantum Computing to form a new company – The Hindu

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Multinational conglomerate Honeywell said it will combine with Cambridge Quantum Computing in a bid to form the largest standalone quantum computing company in the world.

According to Honeywell, the merger will be completed in the third quarter of 2021 and will set the pace for what is projected to become a $1 trillion quantum computing industry over the next three decades.

In the yet to be named company, Honeywell will invest between $270 million and $300 million, and will own a major stake. It will also engage in an agreement for manufacturing critical ion traps needed to power quantum hardware.

The new company will be led by Ilyas Khan, the CEO and founder of CQC, a company that focuses on building software for quantum computing. Honeywell Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Darius Adamczyk will serve as chairman of the new company while Tony Uttley, currently the president of HQS, will serve as the new company's president.

"Joining together into an exciting newly combined enterprise, HQS and CQC will become a global powerhouse that will develop and commercialize quantum solutions that address some of humanity's greatest challenges, while driving the development of what will become a $1 trillion industry," Khan said in a statement.

With this new company, both firms plan to use Honeywells hardware expertise and Cambridges software platforms to build the worlds highest-performing computer.

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Honeywell joins hands with Cambridge Quantum Computing to form a new company - The Hindu

NSWCDD Focuses on Quantum Computing with its First-Ever Hackathon – Naval Sea Systems Command

DAHLGREN, Va.

The Innovation Lab at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) hosted its first-ever hackathon in partnership with Microsoft June 2-4.

While the term hackathon may conjure up familiar depictions in media of a raucous semi-sporting event where audiences look on as hackers write line by line of code to break into a borderline impenetrable system, the event does not always quite look like that. This hackathon looked a lot like a room full of smart, creative people working together to develop rapid solutions to difficult problems.

Participants in NSWCDDs first hackathon were challenged to utilize Microsofts quantum computing toolkit to generate solutions to assigned problems.

The Navy is at the forefront of quantum [computing] efforts and Microsoft is very excited to collaborate with the Navy and excited to do this hackathon with the Innovation Lab here at Dahlgren, said Microsoft Technology Strategist Dr. Monica DeZulueta. The caliber of people participating here is phenomenal.

The event kicked off with a quantum computing bootcamp led by Microsoft quantum computing professionals. Participants in the hackathon along with approximately 25 more eager quantum students who joined the event via Microsoft Teams were introduced to quantum computing basics and the Q# programming language.

Quantum computing is a fundamentally different mode of computing from what has traditionally been in use. While classical computing relies on bits of 1s and 0s, quantum computing qbits can exist as 1s and 0s simultaneously.

Although still an emerging field of application, quantum computing holds incredible implications for generating answers to previously intractable problems. From logistics solutions such as flight path optimization to more rapid, higher-fidelity modeling and simulation, quantum computing may play a key role in giving the warfighter the technological advantage over adversaries.

The goal of this hackathon is to get the workforce thinking about quantum computing, said Innovation Lab Director Dr. John Rigsby.

Innovation Lab Deputy Director Tamara Stuart added, Were already seeing how quantum communication and quantum sensors are enhancing our technologies and how we are thinking about these applications in the future. Everybody is expecting a quantum computing revolution to come so we are gearing up.

Rigsby and Stuart said an enthusiastic response followed the call for hackathon participants. Each department across NSWCDD sent its best and brightest minds to compete and vie for the first place title in the bases first-ever hackathon.

When the hacking began in earnest on day two of the event, the spirit of the anticipated battle of the departments shifted from competitive to collaborative as rival teams began to combine brainpower to attack the puzzling set of problems created by Microsoft quantum computing professionals.

Each team presented their solutions on the third and final day of the event. Along with the solutions to the problem set, participants were asked by the events judges to consider potential applications for quantum computing in their everyday work.

Following presentations, judges declared a three-way tie between Dahlgrens Electromagnetic and Sensor System Department, Gun and Electric Weapon Systems Department and the Integrated Combat Systems Department.

Chief Technology Officer Jennifer Clift highlighted the importance of events like this hackathon.

The Innovation Lab is a place for our workforce to explore new technologies and solve complex naval challenges. Our goal is to tap into the entrepreneurial spirit of our talented workforce and provide the resources and environment necessary to discover, innovate and deliver cutting edge capabilities to the warfighter. Events like this hackathon allow our scientists and engineers to learn new skills, collaborate to solve complex challenges, and prepare for future naval technology needs, said Clift.

Stefano Coronado, a scientist from the Electromagnetic and Sensor System Department, said the in-person collaboration was exciting.

This hackathon was a great experience for me, said Coronado.

NSWCDDs Innovation Lab leadership said this is the first of many similar events to come with hackathons hopefully occurring multiple times a year. Plans for the warfare centers second hackathon are already in the works.

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NSWCDD Focuses on Quantum Computing with its First-Ever Hackathon - Naval Sea Systems Command

Trinity College teams up with Microsoft on quantum computing programme – The Irish Times

Trinity College Dublin has joined forces with Microsoft Ireland to accelerate the development of next-generation quantum technologies and support future leaders in the field.

Under the agreement, Microsoft will provide funding to support quantum research PhD students in Trinity College, while also establishing a female scholarship programme for the colleges MSc in Quantum Science and Technology.

The collaboration will support quantum research teams in Trinitys School of Physics and foster links with research teams in the private sector.

Having emerged from fundamental science over the last two decades, quantum research is now blossoming and promises to revolutionise technology in the coming years with discoveries and innovations that promise to power a more sustainable, advanced future, said Prof John Goold, who is directing the new MSc in Quantum Science and Technology course.

Microsoft recently announced a full-stack, open-cloud quantum computing ecosystem, named Azure Quantum. Quantum computers can solve in a matter of seconds problems that would take the fastest computers today thousands of years to solve, presenting the opportunity to address climate change, significant pharmaceutical advancements, and so on.

Quantum computing presents unprecedented possibilities to solve societys most complex challenges and help to secure a sustainable future. At Microsoft, were committed to responsibly turning these possibilities into reality for the betterment of humanity and the planet, Cathriona Hallahan, Managing Director, Microsoft Ireland said.

The introduction of the female scholarship programme is a welcome one and I believe more focused mechanisms such as this will help us to attract more females not only into the area of next-generation quantum technologies but also wider STEM related industries.

Prof Goold also praised support for the female-only scholarship programme.

As diversity has grown in my research team at Trinity, we have been more creative in pursuing and delivering high-quality science. Female uptake in certain STEM subjects remains low but initiatives like this are helping to drive positive change he said.

The Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris welcomed the collaboration. I am delighted to see this strong collaboration between Trinity College Dublin and Microsoft. Quantum computing technology will be instrumental in solving some of societys biggest challenges and seeing Ireland at the forefront of this research is tremendously important, he said.

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Trinity College teams up with Microsoft on quantum computing programme - The Irish Times

Honeywell Quantum, Cambridge Quantum Computing form joint venture – Reuters

Honeywell International Inc (HON.O) and quantum computer software startup Cambridge Quantum Computing (CQC) on Tuesday announced they will form a joint venture, integrating Honeywells quantum computer unit with the software maker.

Honeywell will invest between $270 million and $300 million in the new company and have 54% of the new venture. CQC and its investors, including International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N) will hold the rest. Honeywell CEO Darius Adamczyk will be the chairman of the board for the new entity, which will be named later.

Honeywell, a technology and manufacturing company, unveiled its quantum computer in late 2019 after many years of development. It invested and partnered with CQC from 2019.

To really accelerate our path into developing full quantum capabilities for quantum solutions, solving customers' problems, we felt this was the shortest, most compelling path, Adamczyk told Reuters.

Researchers believe quantum computers could operate millions of times faster than todays advanced supercomputers, potentially making possible tasks ranging from mapping complex molecular structures and chemical reactions to boosting the power of artificial intelligence.

Ilyas Khan, the CEO and founder of CQC who will be the CEO of the new venture, said CQC has been a founder member of IBMs quantum ecosystem and will continue to work with IBM and other quantum computer makers, even after the joint venture formation.

There are a number of different hardware choices, and we currently are active users of all of the devices in order to fulfill the ... demand side from our clients. So we will always choose the best machine for the job in hand, said Khan.

Quantum computing startups received a record $796 million of venture capital funding globally last year, according to data firm PitchBook.

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Honeywell Quantum, Cambridge Quantum Computing form joint venture - Reuters

With cyberattacks on the rise, organizations are already bracing for devastating quantum hacks – CNBC

Amidst the houses and the car parks sits GCHQ, the Government Communications Headquarters, in this aerial photo taken on October 10, 2005.

David Goddard | Getty Images

LONDON A little-known U.K. company called Arqit is quietly preparing businesses and governments for what it sees as the next big threat to their cyber defenses: quantum computers.

It's still an incredibly young field of research, however some in the tech industry including the likes of Google, Microsoft and IBM believe quantum computing will become a reality in the next decade. And that could be worrying news for organizations' cyber security.

David Williams, co-founder and chairman of Arqit, says quantum computers will be several millions of times faster than classical computers, and would be able to break into one of the most widely-used methods of cryptography.

"The legacy encryption that we all use to keep our secrets safe is called PKI," or public-key infrastructure, Williams told CNBC in an interview. "It was invented in the 70s."

"PKI was originally designed to secure the communications of two computers," Williams added. "It wasn't designed for a hyper-connected world where there are a billion devices all over the world communicating in a complex round of interactions."

Arqit, which is planning to go public via a merger with a blank-check company, counts the likes of BT, Sumitomo Corporation, the British government and the European Space Agency as customers. Some of its team previously worked for GCHQ, the U.K. intelligence agency. The firm only recently came out of "stealth mode" a temporary state of secretness and its stock market listing couldn't be more timely.

The past month has seen a spate of devastating ransomware attacks on organizations from Colonial Pipeline, the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S., to JBS, the world's largest meatpacker.

Microsoft and several U.S. government agencies, meanwhile, were among those affected by an attack on IT firm SolarWinds. President Joe Biden recently signed an executive order aimed at ramping up U.S. cyber defenses.

Quantum computing aims to apply the principles of quantum physics a body of science that seeks to describe the world at the level of atoms and subatomic particles to computers.

Whereas today's computers use ones and zeroes to store information, a quantum computer relies on quantum bits, or qubits, which can consist of a combination of ones and zeroes simultaneously, something that's known in the field as superposition. These qubits can also be linked together through a phenomenon called entanglement.

Put simply, it means quantum computers are far more powerful than today's machines and are able to solve complex calculations much faster.

Kasper Rasmussen, associate professor of computer science at the University of Oxford, told CNBC that quantum computers are designed to do "certain very specific operations much faster than classical computers."

That it is not to say they'll be able to solve every task. "This is not a case of: 'This is a quantum computer, so it just runs whatever application you put on there much faster.' That's not the idea," Rasmussen said.

This could be a problem for modern encryption standards, according to experts.

"When you and I use PKI encryption, we do halves of a difficult math problem: prime factorisation," Williams told CNBC. "You give me a number and I work out what are the prime numbers to work out the new number. A classic computer can't break that but a quantum computer will."

Williams believes his company has found the solution. Instead of relying on public-key cryptography, Arqit sends out symmetric encryption keys long, random numbers via satellites, something it calls "quantum key distribution." Virgin Orbit, which invested in Arqit as part of its SPAC deal, plans to launch the satellites from Cornwall, England, by 2023.

Some experts say it will take some time before quantum computers finally arrive in a way that could pose a threat to existing cyber defenses. Rasmussen doesn't expect them to exist in any meaningful way for at least another 10 years. But he's not complacent.

"If we accept the fact that quantum computers will exist in 10 years, anyone with the foresight to record important conversations now might be in a position to decrypt them when quantum computers come about," Rasmussen said.

"Public-key cryptography is literally everywhere in our digitized world, from your bank card, to the way you connect to the internet, to your car key, to IOT (internet of things) devices," Ali Kaafarani, CEO and founder of cybersecurity start-up PQShield, told CNBC.

The U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology is looking to update its standards on cryptography to include what's known as post-quantum cryptography, algorithms that could be secure against an attack from a quantum computer.

Kaafarani expects NIST will decide on new standards by the end of 2021. But, he warns: "For me, the challenge is not the quantum threat and how can we build encryption methods that are secure. We solved that."

"The challenge now is how businesses need to prepare for the transition to the new standards," Kaafarani said. "Lessons from the past prove that it's too slow and takes years and decades to switch from one algorithm to another."

Williams thinks firms need to be ready now, adding that forming post-quantum algorithms that take public-key cryptography and make it "even more complex" are not the solution. He alluded to a report from NIST which noted challenges with post-quantum cryptographic solutions.

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With cyberattacks on the rise, organizations are already bracing for devastating quantum hacks - CNBC

The ‘second quantum revolution’ is almost here. We need to make sure it benefits the many, not the few – The Conversation AU

Over the past six years, quantum science has noticeably shifted, from the domain of physicists concerned with learning about the universe on extremely small scales, to a source of new technologies we all might use for practical purposes. These technologies make use of quantum properties of single atoms or particles of light. They include sensors, communication networks, and computers.

Quantum technologies are expected to impact many aspects of our society, including health care, financial services, defence, weather modelling, and cyber security. Clearly, they promise exciting benefits. Yet the history of technology development shows we cannot simply assume new tools and systems will automatically be in the public interest.

We must look ahead to what a quantum society might entail and how the quantum design choices made today might impact how we live in the near future. The deployment of artificial intelligence and machine learning over the past few years provides a compelling example of why this is necessary.

Lets consider an example. Quantum computers are perhaps the best-known quantum technology, with companies like Google and IBM competing to achieve quantum computation. The advantage of quantum computers lies in their ability to tackle incredibly complex tasks that would take a normal computer millions of years. One such task is simulating molecules behaviour to improve predictions about the properties of prospective new drugs and accelerate their development.

One conundrum posed by quantum computing is the sheer expense of investing in the physical infrastructure of the technology. This means ownership will likely be concentrated among the wealthiest countries and corporations. In turn, this could worsen uneven power distribution enabled by technology.

Other considerations for this particular type of quantum technology include concerns about reduced online privacy.

How do we stop ourselves blundering into a quantum age without due forethought? How do we tackle the societal problems posed by quantum technologies, while nations and companies race to develop them?

Last year, CSIRO released a roadmap that included a call for quantum stakeholders to explore and address social risks. An example of how we might proceed with this has begun at the World Economic Forum (WEF). The WEF is convening experts from industry, policy-making, and research to promote safe and secure quantum technologies by establishing an agreed set of ethical principles for quantum computing.

Australia should draw on such initiatives to ensure the quantum technologies we develop work for the public good. We need to diversify the people involved in quantum technologies in terms of the types of expertise employed and the social contexts we work from so we dont reproduce and amplify existing problems or create new ones.

Read more: Scientists want to build trust in science and technology. The alternative is too risky to contemplate

While we work to shape the impacts of individual quantum technologies, we should also review the language used to describe this second quantum revolution.

The rationale most commonly used to advocate for the field narrowly imagines public benefit of quantum technologies in terms of economic gain and competition between nations and corporations. But framing this as a race to develop quantum technologies means prioritising urgency, commercial interests and national security at the expense of more civic-minded concerns.

Its still early enough to do something about the challenges posed by quantum technologies. Its also not all doom and gloom, with a variety of initiatives and national research and development policies setting out to tackle these problems before they are set in stone.

We need discussions involving a cross-section of society on the potential impacts of quantum technologies on society. This process should clarify societal expectations for the emerging quantum technology sector and inform any national quantum initiative in Australia.

Read more: Why are scientists so excited about a recently claimed quantum computing milestone?

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The 'second quantum revolution' is almost here. We need to make sure it benefits the many, not the few - The Conversation AU

Swedish university is behind quantum computing breakthrough – ComputerWeekly.com

Swedens Chalmers University of Technology has achieved a quantum computing efficiency breakthrough through a novel type of thermometer that is capable of simplifying and rapidly measuring temperatures during quantum calculations.

The discovery adds a more advanced benchmarking tool that will accelerate Chalmers work in quantum computing development.

The novel thermometer is the latest innovation to emerge from the universitys research to develop an advanced quantum computer. The so-called OpenSuperQ project at Chalmers is coordinated with technology research organisation the Wallenberg Centre for Quantum Technology (WACQT), which is the OpenSuperQ projects main technology partner.

WACQT has set the goal of building a quantum computer capable of performing precise calculations by 2030. The technical requirements behind this ambitious target are based on superconducting circuits and developing aquantum computer with at least 100 well-functioning qubits. To realise this ambition, the OpenSuperQ project will require a processor working temperature close to absolute zero, ideally as low as 10 millikelvin (-273.14 C).

Headquartered at Chalmers Universitys research hub in Gothenburg, the OpenSuperQ project, launched in 2018, is intended to run until 2027. Working alongside the university in Gothenburg, WACQT is also operating support projects being run at the Royal Institute of Technology (Kungliga Tekniska Hgskolan) in Stockholm and collaborating universities in Lund, Stockholm, Linkping and Gothenburg.

Pledged capital funding for the WACQT-managed OpenSuperQ project which has been committed by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation together with 20 other private corporations in Sweden, currently amounts to SEK1.3bn (128m). In March, the foundation scaled up its funding commitment to WACQT, doubling its annual budget to SEK80m over the next four years.

The increased funding by the foundation will lead to the expansion of WACQTs QC research team, and the organisation is looking to recruit a further 40 researchers for the OpenSuperQ project in 2021-2022. A new team is to be established to study nanophotonic devices, which can enable the interconnection of several smaller quantum processors into a large quantum computer.

The Wallenberg sphere incorporates 16 public and private foundations operated by various family members. Each year, these foundations allocate about SEK2.5bn to research projects in the fields of technology, natural sciences and medicine in Sweden.

The OpenSuperQ project aims to take Sweden to the forefront of quantum technologies, including computing, sensing, communications and simulation, said Peter Wallenberg, chairman of the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.

Quantum technology has enormous potential, so it is vital that Sweden has the necessary expertise in this area. WACQT has built up a qualified research environment and established collaborations with Swedish industry. It has succeeded in developing qubits with proven problem-solving ability. We can move ahead with great confidence in what WACQT will go on to achieve.

The novel thermometer breakthrough opens the door to experiments in the dynamic field of quantum thermodynamics, said Simone Gasparinetti, assistant professor at Chalmers quantum technology laboratory.

Our thermometer is a superconducting circuit and directly connected to the end of the waveguide being measured, said Gasparinetti. It is relatively simple and probably the worlds fastest and most sensitive thermometer for this particular purpose at the millikelvin scale.

Coaxial cables and waveguides the structures that guide waveforms and serve as the critical connection to the quantum processor remain key components in quantum computers. The microwave pulses that travel down the waveguides to the quantum processor are cooled to extremely low temperatures along the way.

For researchers, a fundamental goal is to ensure that these waveguides are not carrying noise due to the thermal motion of electrons on top of the pulses that they send. Precise temperature measurement readings of the electromagnetic fields are needed at the cold end of the microwave waveguides, the point where the controlling pulses are delivered to the computers qubits.

Working at the lowest possible temperature minimises the risk of introducing errors in the qubits. Until now, researchers have only been able to measure this temperature indirectly, and with relatively long delays. Chalmers Universitys novel thermometer enables very low temperatures to be measured directly at the receiving end of the waveguide with elevated accuracy and with extremely high time resolution.

The novel thermometer developed at the university provides researchers with a value-added tool to measure the efficiency of systems while identifying possible shortcomings, said Per Delsing, a professor at the department of microtechnology and nanoscience at Chalmers and director of WACQT.

A certain temperature corresponds to a given number of thermal photons, and that number decreases exponentially with temperature, he said. If we succeed in lowering the temperature at the end where the waveguide meets the qubit to 10 millikelvin, the risk of errors in our qubits is reduced drastically.

The universitys primary role in the OpenSuperQ project is to lead the work on developing the application algorithms that will be executed on the OpenSuperQ quantum computer. It will also support the development of algorithms for quantum chemistry, optimisation and machine learning.

Also, Chalmers will head up efforts to improve quantum coherence in chips with multiple coupled qubits, including device design, process development, fabrication, packaging and testing. It will also conduct research to evaluate the performance of 2-qubit gates and develop advanced qubit control methods to mitigate systematic and incoherent errors to achieve targeted gate fidelities.

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Swedish university is behind quantum computing breakthrough - ComputerWeekly.com