Will Hype and Unrealistic Expectations Squelch Quantum Computing Funding?
Investment in Quantum Computing Is Booming—But Will a Quantum Winter Follow?
+ Nature notes a particularly worrying sign: a significant amount of investment so far has gone into quantum software companies, which are designing algorithms and programs for devices that don’t yet exist. Given that consensus still hasn’t developed on what the underlying materials of a quantum computer should be, that seems premature.
Ultimately, it’s a question of horizons. Few in the field doubt we will be able to build a powerful general-purpose quantum computer, but the question is whether investors are willing to wait the decades it could take to get there.
+ A more pernicious problem is the danger of a brain drain as companies flush with investor cash lure the best minds out of academia in a mirror of what has happened in AI. Given that there are still fundamental questions that need to be answered about quantum computing, in a field as small as it is that could severely hamper progress.
+ One saving grace is that quantum technology is not only about computers. Quantum communications and quantum cryptography have been making major advances in recent years and are likely to reach widespread commercial adoption considerably sooner, which could help maintain the field’s momentum.
+ There’s also considerable foresight about the potential for a quantum winter from within the industry. Michael Marthaler, co-founder of startup Heisenberg Quantum Simulations, told The Economist he’s already expecting one and is just hoping his firm is established enough by then to “hibernate.” Matthew Kinsella, managing director at Maverick Ventures, told Business Insider he’s preparing for a retraction despite having invested in a quantum technology company.
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