More and more Asian countries are entering the trend

Quantum computer in a building without vibrations. Quantum computing will eventually speed up the computing power that drives many industries and can affect everything from drug discovery to how data is protected.

Oliver Berg Picture Alliance | Getty Images

Quantum computing was already gaining momentum in Japan and elsewhere in Asia when the University of Tokyo and IBM launched their new quantum computer last year.

The computer was the second such system developed outside the United States by IBM, the latest in a series of key moves in quantum research.

The university and IBM have led the Quantum Innovation Initiative consortium, along with heavy industry in the Japanese industry such as Toyota and Sony – all with a view to resolving the quantum issue.

Quantum computing refers to the use of quantum mechanics to perform calculations. Quantum computing can perform multiple processes at once using quantum bits, unlike the binary bits that power traditional computing.

Challenging the “hegemony” of the United States

The new technology will eventually speed up the computing power that drives many industries and can affect everything from drug discovery to how data is protected. Several countries are vying to get quantum computers fully operational.

Christopher Savoy, CEO of quantum computing firm Zapata, who has spent much of his career in Japan, said technology development is very US-oriented. But now Asian countries do not want to be left behind in quantum calculations, he added.

“Nation-states like India, Japan and China are very interested in not being the only people without opportunities there. “They don’t want to see the hegemony that arises when big cloud aggregators are just US companies,” Savoie said, referring to Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

China, for example, has devoted great brain power to the quantum race. Researchers point to breakthroughs and debate over whether China is ahead of the United States on some fronts.

India, meanwhile, announced plans earlier this year to invest $ 1 billion in a five-year plan to develop a quantum computer in the country.

James Sanders, an analyst at S&P Global Market Intelligence, told CNBC that governments around the world have shown more interest in quantum computing in recent years.

In March, Sanders published a report that governments had pledged about $ 4.2 billion to support quantum research. Some notable examples include South Korea’s $ 40 million investment in this area and funding from the Singapore Ministry of Education for The Center for Quantum Technologies.

Where will it be used?

All these efforts have a long lens to the future. And for some, the benefits of quanta may seem vague.

According to Sanders, the benefits of quantum computing will not be immediately apparent to everyday consumers.

What is likely to happen is that quantum computers will be used to design products that consumers end up buying.

James Sanders

analyst, S&P Global Market Intelligence

“On a bad day, I reject people from the idea of ​​quantum cell phones. “It’s not realistic, it’s not going to be something,” he said.

“What is likely to happen is that quantum computers are being used to design products that consumers end up buying.”

There are two main areas in which the breakthrough of the quantum industry will be felt – industry and defense.

A staff member of technology company Q.ant puts a quantum computing chip at a test station in Stuttgart, Germany, on September 14, 2021. The power of quantum computing is expected to be able to decrypt RSA encryption, one of the most common encryption methods. for data protection.

Thomas Kinzl Afp | Getty Images

“Areas where you have HPC [high-performance computing] are areas where we will see the impact of quantum computers. These are things like material simulation, aerodynamic simulation, things like that, very high, difficult computational problems, and then artificial intelligence for machine learning, “Savoi said.

In pharmaceuticals, traditional systems for calculating the behavior of drug molecules can take time. The speed of quantum computing can quickly increase these processes around drug discovery and ultimately the timeline for drug marketing.

Security challenges

On the other hand, the quantum can pose security challenges. As computing power progresses, so does the risk to existing security methods.

“In the long run [motivation] but the one that everyone recognizes as an existential threat, both offensive and defensive, is the realm of cryptography. The RSA will eventually be compromised by this, “Savoie added.

RSA is one of the most common encryption methods for data protection, developed in 1977, which can be modified by quantum speed. It is named after its inventors – Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir and Leonard Adleman.

You see a lot of interest from governments and communities that don’t want to be the last people in the bloc to have this technology because [other nations] will be able to decrypt our messages.

Christopher Savoy

CEO of Zapata

“You see a lot of interest from governments and communities that don’t want to be the last people in the bloc to have this technology because [other nations] he will be able to decipher our messages, “Savoa said.

Magda Lilia Cheli, chief information security director at Singapore-based cybersecurity firm Responsible Cyber, told CNBC that there must be a double line of encryption and quantum research and development so that security is not overtaken.

“Some experts believe that quantum computers will eventually be able to break all forms of encryption, while others believe that new and more complex forms of encryption will be developed that cannot be broken by quantum computers,” Cheli said. .

Quantum processor on a prototype of a quantum computer. There must be a double line of encryption and quantum research and development so that security is not overtaken, said Magda Lilia Cheli, chief information security director at Singapore-based cybersecurity firm Responsible Cyber.

Julian Stratenschulte / dpa | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

“In particular, [researchers] have looked for ways to use quantum computers to quickly decompose large numbers. This is important because many of the modern encryption schemes used today rely on the fact that it is very difficult to factorize large numbers, “she added.

If successful, this will break most current encryption schemes, making it possible to unlock messages that are encrypted.

Stop-start progress.

Sanders said the development and eventual commercialization of quantum computing would not be a straight line.

Problems such as the threat of encryption could attract the attention of governments, but research and breakthroughs, as well as widespread interest, could be a “stop-start,” he said.

Progress may also be influenced by the changing interest of private investors, as quantum calculations will not provide a quick return on investment.

“There are a lot of situations in this industry where you can have a lead for a week and then another company will come up with a different kind of progress and then everything will calm down for a while.”

Another upcoming challenge for quantum research is finding the right talent with specific skills for that research.

“Quantum scientists who can do quantum calculations do not grow on trees,” Savoy said, adding that cross-border co-operation is needed in the face of competing government interests.

“Talent is global. People can’t choose which country they were born in or what their nationality is.”

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