UK is a ‘leader’ in quantum computing – Cambridge Quantum CEO

The CEO and founder of Cambridge Quantum said the UK was a “leader” in quantum computing and predicted the machines would reach a quantum volume of millions of qubits within a year.

Speaking at the Innovate Finance Global Summit, Ilyas Khan predicted that there will be quantum applications for fintech in the next three to five years.

There have been significant advances in quantum computers in recent years, but full-fledged, error-free machines are still considered a long way from becoming a reality.

Quantum volume measures the number of effective qubits in a quantum processor. The highest metric so far was 2,046, but Khan predicts machines will hit 1 million within 12 months.

“I think a more aggressive view than that could be misleading, but a more conservative view than that is just as misleading,” Khan said.

Quantum computers promise much more firepower than traditional computers. This additional computing power is expected to revolutionize areas such as financial modeling, drug discovery and supply chain optimization.

A small but growing number of institutions are exploring uses of quantum computing through remotely accessible machines. Last week, HSBC announced a partnership with IBM to test quantum computers in banking.

Another potential use for quantum computers is in natural language processing and a computer that will truly understand speech.

“Siri and Alexa have no idea what you’re talking about, or what red is, they don’t know what an apple is,” Khan said.

“I think we’ll probably have a device that’s actually sense-aware and able to interact with human beings the way we all interact now,” Khan added.

Khan predicts this could happen in the next decade or 20 years, but not for 50 years.

Quantum computers are also expected to improve artificial intelligence, which Khan describes as correct 51% of the time and will achieve 80-90% correctness with a quantum computer’s “degrees of freedom.”

While tech giants IBM and Google are two of the biggest players in the quantum computing space, the UK is home to fast-growing quantum computers developing hardware, software and tools to advance the industry.

Recently, Oxford-based QuantrolOx raised £1.4m in its seed funding round to develop its artificial intelligence software that tunes and stabilizes quantum computers.

Other British quantum computing companies include Cambridge-based Riverlane, Oxford-based PQShield, and Brighton-based Universal Quantum.

Sherry J. Basler