The widespread practical use of quantum computing will begin as early as 2025, and by 2030, technological leadership will be impossible without quantum technologies, according to experts who participated at the international conference “Future Technologies Forum: Computing and Communication. The Quantum World” held in Moscow last month.
At the Forum with the motto “Ahead of the Time”, experts also forecast that the global quantum communications market will be worth about $20 billion by 2035.
An official statement said “the main objective of the Forum is to foster cooperation between the government, science and business to develop and implement technologies that will enable Russia to keep up with global trends and claim global technological leadership.”
At the conference, Russia unveiled its most powerful quantum computer designed till date – a16-qubit ion-based quantum computer – that has been developed by a team of scientists from the Russian Quantum Centre and the Lebedev Physics Institute working under the coordination of the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom.
Quantum theory is about nature at its smallest scale and energy levels and describes the behaviour of subatomic particles like electrons, protons, neutrons and photons.
In silicon chips of classical computers, the unit of data is rendered in one of two states — 0 or 1 pertaining to the true/false or yes/no state. However, in quantum theory, data could simultaneously exist in both states, holding exponentially more information. The unit, or “bit” in regular computing, becomes “qubit” in quantum theory, which can be either 0 or 1, or in superposition of them both at the same time.
“Our core objective is the transition of the entire economy on the basis of big data,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his opening address at the Forum, adding that the fundamental task is to transfer the entire Russian economy, social sphere and authorities to qualitatively new principles of work based on big data.
Russia’s President proposed the preparation, within a year, of a new national project on the formation of a data economy for the period up to 2030. The national project should cover research, training, creation of conditions for the production and testing of samples, organization of demand, flexible regulation and support of production, as well as technologies for collecting, transmitting, storing, ensuring data security, national standards and algorithms for storing and processing information, and creating a code repository.
The Forum brought together scientists from Russia, India, Brazil, China, France, Sweden, Belarus, Germany and Australia. “The venue played host to a number of discussions on international cooperation and the implementation of joint projects, including the Russian-Chinese experiment on testing quantum space communications”, the statement said.
Although quantum computing is still very in its infancy, it is hoped that eventually the technology will speed up many computationally demanding workloads – including drug discovery, material sciences, traffic congestion, supply chain, weather forecasting, and quantum cryptography.
“We have built a roadmap in a unique way – not as a management mechanism, but as a mechanism for interaction, mutual support and, I’m not afraid of this word, trust,” Rosatom Director General, Alexey Likhachev, said.
Likhachev sees Rosatom’s tasks as being the inclusion of emerging quantum technologies, “which do not yet know how to walk or speak,” in the nuclear industry and their speedy industrialization, as well as assistance to scientists with a component base and equipment. He believes that at the current stage of development of the quantum industry, Russia can already offer cooperation on an equal footing to scientists from other countries.
Representatives of Russian Railways described the construction of the main quantum network as part of the Quantum Communications roadmap, which, by 2030, will cover 34 regions.
The Artificial Intelligence Alliance, which includes Russia’s leading companies, including Sberbank, is launching a new project in the field of quantum technologies in artificial intelligence.
At the Forum, the creation of a quantum cluster at the Skolkovo Innovation Centre by the end of 2024 was announced. The creation of the cluster was a key point in the cooperation agreement signed by Rosatom and the Russian Quantum Centre. Another agreement signed by the Russian Quantum Centre and VK will accelerate the development of quantum computing in the cloud.
More than 1,400 people attended the Forum, including 750 experts from more than 80 Russian and foreign educational and research institutions and 250 media representatives. Russian Railways and Rosatom were the co-organisers of the event.