In the last quarter of 2018, The E.U. launched the Quantum Flagship megaproject with more than 1000 million euros in funding for a 10 – year period and more than 5000 researchers committed to the development of quantum technologies and to bring their capabilities into the market. Europe has finally made it to the race started by China and the U.S. Both countries want to dominate, or at least, to lead the so- called quantum race. The European Union finally rode on the most powerful research and development program of recent years.
This Quantum Flagship will build an European program network based on quantum technologies which will boost an ecosystem to provide the necessary knowledge, technologies and infrastructure for the development of this industry. The research areas are focused on quantum communication (QComm), quantum computing (QComp), quantum simulation (QSim), meteorology and quantum detection (QMS) and basic science (BSci).
Big technological companies doing research on quantum computing are immersed in a commercial race to see which will be the first to run a quantum computer. However, which are the main features of quantum computing and how can we benefit from it?
Current computers, either portable or big computers, are based on basic binary circuits, in other words, a “yes/no” response. Thus, programmers can create tasks to make that computer work with these sentences “if this/then that”. However, sometimes a computer with these characteristics cannot solve efficiently certain problems. For example, in many mathematical optimization problems, current computers take their time to evaluate individually every possible solution until optimal is found.
In contrast, quantum computers have a completely different concept as they do not use the “yes/no”. binary logic. By their nature, their basic circuits can respond to “yes/no/both (in the same proportion)”. With a quantum system, a developer can implement instructions “if this, then that/not-that/both” and here is what makes the difference. They can explore a great volume of data at the same time, offer very efficient solutions to very complex problems such as transport routes optimization.
Until now, quantum computing has not been developed yet, at least the way we are used to (a computer executing tasks), because one of the problems facing quantum computing is building multipurpose quantum computers. Compared to a normal computer, a quantum machine is extremely complex. The first models available, like the IBM´s recent version, are based on superconductive constituents (including Josephson effect devices), which need to work at a temperature below -273 ºC (almost absolute cero) The necessary cryogenics technology of the components to be able to read and handle steadily these qubits are extremely expensive and complex.
Despite the inherent technical difficulties to quantum-mechanic systems, extensive research has been carried out and confirmed promising applications of quantum computing as soon as the necessary hardware is ready. Artificial Intelligence is among them.