Preparing for the Next Stage of My Quantum Journey

  1. In a nutshell
  2. The initial stage of my quantum journey
  3. Seriously, I’ve done enough writing already and feel that I’ve said all of the really important things I wanted to say
  4. It feels like it’s time for me to pause, step back, and reflect to get some perspective before continuing
  5. I have no clear objective for the next stage of my quantum journey
  6. Just wait for technology and the market to catch up with what I’ve been writing about
  7. Still very many unknowns and question marks about quantum computing for me to say that my quantum journey is fully complete
  8. Why am I even on this quantum journey?
  9. Quantum computing is still in the pre-commercialization stage where research is the primary focus
  10. A lot of research is still required before quantum computing is ready to do just about anything
  11. Do anything = production deployment to address production-scale practical real-world problems
  12. Quantum computing will lag until funding doubles down on pre-commercialization
  13. Just be sure to avoid premature commercialization
  14. We’re such a long way from a practical quantum computer with any significant quantum advantage which delivers compelling business value, so why bother paying much attention until we get a lot closer?
  15. What I’ve been doing since my last report on my quantum journey
  16. My writing since my last report on my quantum journey
  17. Completed the last item on my what’s next list
  18. My best writing, introducing quantum computing
  19. Still plenty of topics on my writing to-do list
  20. How I got to this as a transition point
  21. Any regrets? No, not really
  22. Was this stage 1 or… what?
  23. Activities I’ll likely definitely continue going forward
  24. Progress in the quantum computing sector over the past two years
  25. My options going forward
  26. Options I won’t be considering
  27. My top options
  28. Reruns of my past papers are an appealing option
  29. Regular or occasional public service announcements might be helpful
  30. One promising scenario — reruns and PSAs while I wait for some technical criteria to be achieved
  31. Continue adding new topics to my list of future topics for my writing
  32. Updating my glossary of terms for quantum computing
  33. I’m a novelty junkie
  34. What would be most boring for me: a coherent roadmap with clear milestones which are achieved in a methodical manner
  35. My default choice is to continue as before, or take a little break, try a few things differently for a few months, and then decide
  36. What objective should I focus on?
  37. What’s worthy of my attention?
  38. Uncharted territory
  39. My model is to write only when I can’t resist writing
  40. Why I would consider a break
  41. Potential gating factors for resuming from any prolonged break
  42. Inflection points will get my intention
  43. Is it an inflection point or just a milestone?
  44. Negative inflection points
  45. A true game-changer would get my attention
  46. Significantly more transparency would get my attention
  47. Potential specific technical gating factors for resuming from any prolonged break
  48. Potential specific negative gating factors preventing or deterring me from resuming from any prolonged break
  49. Quantum computing is still a mere laboratory curiosity
  50. Quantum computing remains more suited for the lunatic fringe who will use anything than for normal, average technical staff
  51. My proposal for a quantum computer with 48 fully-connected near-perfect qubits as a strong contender for the primary technical gating factor
  52. Somebody begins using my proposed label for capabilities and requirements of quantum computers and quantum algorithms
  53. How long might it be before I am likely to resume my quantum journey in earnest?
  54. How long can I break before knowledge begins to become stale and I fall behind on the advancing state of the art?
  55. I’ve made no final decision yet — just contemplating options
  56. Inclined to just play it month to month and expect that within three to six months I’ll achieve some clarity
  57. I could cut my work-like activity significantly or somewhat, but still remain somewhat active
  58. Mix and match options
  59. The best-laid plans of mice and men — ask me again in a month!
  60. What might I do if or when my quantum journey ends?
  61. When exactly will the current stage of my quantum journey end and the next stage begin?
  62. How long might this next stage of my quantum journey last?
  63. Quantum computing advances we need to see over the coming 12 to 18 to 24 months to stay on track
  64. What single advance in quantum computing is most needed in the near future? Higher qubit fidelity
  65. Ongoing hype about Shor’s factoring algorithm
  66. Is quantum computing really viable? Still unclear
  67. How much confidence do I have in the technical feasibility of quantum computing? Some, but…
  68. My quantum journey is not predicated on proof of viability for quantum computing
  69. Retirement
  70. Currently I am semi-retired, and that’s fine with me
  71. Expecting to officially retire in April/May 2024
  72. Retirement doesn’t mean I can’t pursue technical and work-like projects, just that I have no obligation or commitment and don’t in any way feel compelled to pursue such projects
  73. Updating my future writing topics
  74. Is my quantum journey actually now at its end?
  75. Have I exhausted my efforts at understanding the capabilities, limitations, and issues of quantum computing? No, but a pause could give me some fresh perspective
  76. Plenty of runway ahead for quantum computing and my interests in understanding its capabilities, limitations, and issues
  77. Too soon for my quantum swan song
  78. When and where and how will I let people know what I decided as far as the next stage of my quantum journey?
  79. Unlikely that I will be very active in quantum computing in five years
  80. Risk of a Quantum Winter
  81. Alternative titles for this informal paper
  82. Never say never = 1 in 1,000 chance
  83. My original proposal for this topic
  84. Summary and conclusions

In a nutshell

  1. I consider my past two years as having been quite fruitful in quantum computing. Both the work — writing — that I’ve done, and keeping up with developments and advances in the technology and the market.
  2. Seriously, I’ve done enough writing already and feel that I’ve said all of the really important things I wanted to say.
  3. It feels like it’s time for me to pause, step back, and reflect to get some perspective before continuing.
  4. Any regrets? No, not really. I learned a lot and got a lot of satisfaction from my efforts over the past two and even five years. I honestly can say that I don’t know what I might have done any differently that might have left me at a better place than I am right now.
  5. I have no clear objective at this stage. I’ve already accomplished much of what I set out to do.
  6. Just wait for technology and the market to catch up with what I’ve been writing about. I’ve spent so much time living in the future of quantum computing. Time for some of that future to become the present.
  7. But there are still very many unknowns and question marks about quantum computing for me to say that my quantum journey is fully complete. My speculation about the future of quantum computing is far from comprehensive or necessarily accurate.
  8. Quantum computing has made a lot of progress in recent years. Especially since 2016.
  9. But still a long way to go to get to a practical quantum computer and any dramatic quantum advantage.
  10. We’re such a long way from a practical quantum computer with any significant quantum advantage which delivers compelling business value, so why bother paying much attention until we get a lot closer? It’s a balancing act. You don’t want to be too late, but being too early can be expensive, tiring, exhausting, and unproductive. There’s risk either way.
  11. Almost five years from my first attempt to dive into quantum computing. November 2017.
  12. Have some sense of how the next two years could go for quantum computing, but it could go a lot of different ways.
  13. Not so sure what my own quantum journey will actually look like over the next two years.
  14. I’ve identified quite a few options for how my quantum journey might evolve.
  15. I’ve identified a few preferred options.
  16. I may consider taking a break before I continue in earnest. Flexible as to how long, from a couple of months to a couple of years.
  17. I’ve identified factors that could influence whether or when I resume activity after a break. Some technical, some non-technical.
  18. I’ve identified a long list of technical factors and milestones that could influence whether or when I resume activity after a break.
  19. Inflection points will get my attention. Something dramatic occurs out of the blue and suddenly everything is different. A sea change. A sudden and dramatic acceleration of progress. Some true breakthrough rather than predictable incremental progress. These moments will definitely get my attention, but there won’t be many of them, or at least they won’t be very frequent.
  20. A true game-changer would get my attention. Something that turns the whole sector upside down in some palpably meaningful manner.
  21. Significantly more transparency would get my attention. Vendors are being rather stingy about what they make public. More detailed product roadmaps, greater technical disclosure, detailed technical specifications, and much better technical documentation would get my attention.
  22. Some negative factors could cause me to prolong a break.
  23. I may wait until quantum computing is no longer a mere laboratory curiosity. Not yet ready for production deployment to address production-scale practical real-world problems. Everything people are doing just seems so… toy-like.
  24. I may wait for The ENIAC Moment. The first significant production-scale practical real-world quantum application. Or maybe wait for the second or third one to prove that the initial success really can be replicated.
  25. I may wait until it is no longer true that even relatively simple quantum algorithms and quantum applications require the superhuman effort of the lunatic fringe. Even relatively simple quantum computing is far beyond the abilities of mere mortal, average, normal, typical corporate technical staff. Unfortunately, this might not change until The FORTRAN Moment with a truly high-level programming model, although the availability of configurable packaged quantum solutions will permit widespread adoption of quantum solutions even if custom quantum algorithms are still beyond all but the lunatic fringe.
  26. I may wait until I see my proposed 48 fully-connected near-perfect qubits quantum computer. Enough for a 20-bit quantum Fourier transform, and to achieve a significant quantum advantage of one million over a classical solution.
  27. I may wait until somebody begins using my proposed label for capabilities and requirements of quantum computers and quantum algorithms. Even one vendor, but preferably several vendors. And I want to see it used for algorithm requirements as well.
  28. I’ve identified plenty of low-intensity quantum-related activities I could likely continue even if I took a break.
  29. I’ve decided to defer deciding which option(s) to take until after this paper is posted.
  30. I may just try a few things over the coming months and see what seems to work best for me.
  31. Reruns of my past papers are an appealing option. Repost on LinkedIn for papers I’ve written in the past, with specific, narrow, and timely comments related to what’s going on in the quantum computing sector at the moment. Highlight the relevance of my past writing.
  32. Regular or occasional public service announcements might be helpful. Periodic or occasional reruns of some of my past papers for issues that simply aren’t getting enough attention.
  33. One promising scenario — reruns and PSAs while I wait for some technical criteria to be achieved. Might be the easiest, most productive, and most effective use of my time, energy, and attention. Technical criteria might include near-perfect qubits, either full connectivity for transmon qubits or 32 to 40 qubits for trapped ion or neutral atom qubits, reasonably fine granularity of phase and probability amplitude, and 24 to 28-qubit or even 40-qubit algorithms. And also wait for quantum Fourier transform (QFT) and quantum phase estimation (QPE) for 12 to 20 qubits, when quantum Fourier transform and quantum phase estimation have become common in new quantum algorithms, and when quantum computational chemistry switches from variational methods to quantum phase estimation. And wait for Quantum Volume (QV) of 16 million to 256 million, which enables high-quality algorithms using 24 to 28 qubits.
  34. Continue adding new topics to my list of future topics for my writing. Just not regularly writing about them. But others can write about them. What might change is that I may consider doing LinkedIn posts for some of the more interesting topics that I add to my list — just the topic title and my brief notes, but no full-length discourse. At a minimum, my writing topics, and their annotations, even if I decide not to write about them, are good food for thought that readers and connections might find helpful.
  35. Consider a switch to a focus on the underlying physics. Gain a better insight to what makes qubits really tick. Or spin.
  36. Consider a switch to a focus on photonics. I know so little about photonics. I’d like to evaluate whether a general-purpose photonic quantum computer is even theoretically possible. I can’t even answer the question of how two photons could interact under Bose-Einstein Statistics (BES), such as for entanglement or executing gate operations.
  37. Consider a switch to a focus on the intersection of quantum and AI. Not the current fads of machine learning and QML, but more on how quantum effects might be needed to enable true intelligence. How quantum effects may be required for a human brain and human mind to function, intelligently. Might quantum effects be needed to achieve true higher-order human-level intelligence (AGI), or maybe needed even for basic animal intelligence. Unfortunately, this is more of a blue-sky research area rather than primed for commercialization. Still, if that’s what captures my attention, so be it.
  38. Consider focusing on advances in classical quantum simulators rather than real quantum computers. Simulators configured with noise models approximating the real quantum computers expected in two to four years would be more practical targets for algorithm research, prototyping, and experimentation than current noisy real quantum computers. These are unexploited near-term opportunities that don’t require the time and expense of massive levels of multi-year research and engineering investments.
  39. Consider focusing on hard-core research, don’t get distracted by misguided efforts to engage in premature commercialization. The fundamentals needed to produce better qubits with better connectivity. Pass on systems with low qubit fidelity (less than three nines), weak connectivity (not full any to any connectivity), or coarse granularity of phase and probability amplitude.
  40. Consider a deeper dive on quantum error correction (QEC). A research topic. I was an eager booster in this area, but now I have some doubts. Need to dig deeper.
  41. Consider a deeper dive on Shor’s factoring algorithm. A research topic. Try to answer more of the unanswered questions. Dig deeper into Miller’s 1976 primality test paper, upon which Shor’s algorithm is based.
  42. Consider a switch to a focus on the other areas of quantum information science (QIS). Besides quantum computing, quantum information science also includes quantum communication, quantum networking, quantum metrology, and quantum sensing.
  43. Consider more writing as I learn more. There are plenty of interesting topics on my writing list that I just don’t have enough knowledge about to write about them just yet. As I incrementally gain more knowledge, more of those topics will become ripe for writing.
  44. Continue updating my glossary of terms for quantum computing. Maybe even try to flesh out the terms marked TBD — To Be Determined.
  45. I could cut my work-like activity significantly or somewhat, but still remain somewhat active. Activity doesn’t need to be an all or nothing choice. I could cut my work-like activity in half, or by a quarter, or by three quarters, or even by 90%, but still remain at least somewhat active. I have the freedom to be flexible in this regard.
  46. I don’t have to choose a single, definitive option — I can mix and match different aspects of different options. And evolve the mixing over time as the technology, market, and my interests evolve.
  47. I don’t have any clear and definitive objective for the next stage of my quantum journey. Other than that my essential focus for quantum computing is on its capabilities, limitations, and issues.
  48. My default choice is to continue as before, or take a little break, try a few things differently for a few months, and then decide.
  49. My model is to write only when I can’t resist writing.
  50. Is my quantum journey actually now at its end? It might be. I don’t think so, but it’s very possible. After all, I have completed so many of my most urgent writing interests. Let’s see in a few months.
  51. Have I exhausted my efforts at understanding the capabilities, limitations, and issues of quantum computing? No, but a brief or even longer pause at this juncture could allow me to rest, regroup, and give me some fresh perspective on how to look at quantum computing.
  52. Plenty of runway ahead for quantum computing and my interests in understanding its capabilities, limitations, and issues. How much of that I pursue, when, and at what pace, and at what depth remains to be seen.
  53. I may be officially retired in two years. It’s getting to be about that time. Work and work-like activities have lost most of their appeal for me. Not sure if any of the lingering appeal will remain in two years.
  54. No clarity as to whether I will be very involved in quantum computing two years from now.
  55. Unlikely that I will be very active in quantum computing in five years. Unlikely three years into retirement. But never say never.
  56. When and where and how I let people know about any decision I make will depend on my decision. Some decisions or experimentation may take months before it’s a final decision on the path and pace of my quantum journey and its next stage in particular.

The initial stage of my quantum journey

Two years ago (August 2020) I wrote up an informal paper chronicling my initial journey into quantum computing:

Seriously, I’ve done enough writing already and feel that I’ve said all of the really important things I wanted to say

There were a wide range of important points I wanted to pursue and make over the past two years and I think I’ve made all or almost all of them in my informal writing.

It feels like it’s time for me to pause, step back, and reflect to get some perspective before continuing

Much of the time I’m on autopilot, charging ahead on a trajectory with no sense of doing anything different than staying on that same trajectory for the indefinite future. But occasionally it is good to stop and take stock to get a sense of whether a mid-course correction might be warranted.

I have no clear objective for the next stage of my quantum journey

I’ve already accomplished much of what I set out to do, so I have no great clarity as to what I should focus on next.

Just wait for technology and the market to catch up with what I’ve been writing about

I’ve been so focused on the future, beyond the next year or two for the past five years. I’m not so sure that continuing to focus two to five or more years into the future is going to be very beneficial for me at this stage.

Still very many unknowns and question marks about quantum computing for me to say that my quantum journey is fully complete

Yes, I am finishing up this stage of my quantum journey, but that’s not to say that my journey is fully complete. There are still many unknowns and question marks that I still cannot answer even to my own satisfaction.

Why am I even on this quantum journey?

I’m actually not even pursuing quantum computing as a source of money — income or wealth. I have no job or consulting in quantum computing. And no revenue from my writing. So why am I doing it? I have three motivations:

  1. Curious whether quantum computing is real and can ever live up to the hype.
  2. As a backup plan should I need to seek income before I officially retire.
  3. My interest as a technologist — what makes it tick.

Quantum computing is still in the pre-commercialization stage where research is the primary focus

Much research is still required before quantum computing will be commercially viable.

A lot of research is still required before quantum computing is ready to do just about anything

To reiterate, much research is still required before quantum computing will be commercially viable. How much research?

Do anything = production deployment to address production-scale practical real-world problems

To be clear, when I say that quantum computing is not ready to do much of anything, I am referring to production deployment to address production-scale practical real-world problems.

  1. Research.
  2. Training exercises.
  3. Toy problems.
  4. Prototyping.
  5. Pilot projects.
  6. Experimentation.
  7. Evaluation.
  8. Less than production-scale.
  9. Computer science experiments.
  10. Using a quantum computer to simply generate random numbers.

Quantum computing will lag until funding doubles down on pre-commercialization

Ultimately, it’s all about funding — for research.

Just be sure to avoid premature commercialization

It’s so hard to say how long it might take before quantum computing is really ready for full-blown commercialization, but just as it’s clear that research and other pre-commercialization activities need to be the urgent priority, it is just as important or even more urgent to avoid premature commercialization.

We’re such a long way from a practical quantum computer with any significant quantum advantage which delivers compelling business value, so why bother paying much attention until we get a lot closer?

Yes, there’s a lot going on in the quantum computing sector, but we’re such a long way from a practical quantum computer that is capable and worthy of production deployment of quantum solutions for production-scale practical real-world problems and offers a significant quantum advantage — and delivers compelling business value, so why bother paying much attention until we get a lot closer?

What I’ve been doing since my last report on my quantum journey

General tasks and activities that I’ve been engaged in since August 31, 2020:

  1. Watching the news flow for quantum computing. Especially product announcements and research advances.
  2. Trying to avoid the hype.
  3. Reading academic journal papers. Or at least scanning them. Primarily on arXiv.org, or journal websites if open access.
  4. Watching posts on LinkedIn for quantum computing connections.
  5. Engaging in dialog with LinkedIn connections.
  6. Making new connections on LinkedIn for quantum computing.
  7. Google searches and reading for topics that pop up.
  8. Writing informal papers. All posted on Medium. See below.
  9. Updating my glossary of terms for quantum computing.
  10. Adding new topics to my list of future topics for my writing.
  11. Updating the annotations on topics on my list of future topics for my writing. Sometimes I have updates or additional thoughts I want to record.
  12. Updating my existing papers as I notice items that need to be updated or added. Most of my informal papers don’t get updated, but some do.
  13. Successfully avoided writing a book. As appealing as writing a book might seem, it is way too much of a distraction for me. A great book is a lot of effort, energy, time, and attention. A mediocre book is much easier, but not of interest to me. I don’t need to write a book just so that I can say that I wrote a book.

My writing since my last report on my quantum journey

All of my writing — all informal — is posted on Medium:

  1. August 31. My Journey into Quantum Computing.
  2. October 1. Little Data With a Big Solution Space — the Sweet Spot for Quantum Computing.
  3. October 14. Why Is IBM’s Notion of Quantum Volume Only Valid up to About 50 Qubits?
  4. November 12. Beware of Quantum Algorithms Dependent on Fine Granularity of Phase.
  5. December 23. My Quantum Computing Wish List for Christmas 2020 and New Year 2021.
  1. February 24. Preliminary Thoughts on Fault-Tolerant Quantum Computing, Quantum Error Correction, and Logical Qubits.
  2. Note the three month gap — I was doing a massive review of several years of notes — electronic and index cards — and compiling an updated and annotated list of all of my potential topics for future writing. Originally posted in October 2019, but frequently updated. Future Topics for My Writing on Quantum Computing
  3. May 20. Distance Scales for Interconnecting Quantum Computing Elements.
  4. June 10. Nines of Qubit Fidelity.
  5. June 29. Timeline of Early Classical Computers.
  6. July 7. What Is Dramatic Quantum Advantage?
  7. July 20. Thoughts on the IBM Quantum Hardware Roadmap.
  8. August 10. Five Major Use Cases for a Classical Quantum Simulator.
  9. August 25. Staged Model for Scaling of Quantum Algorithms.
  10. September 8. Where Are All of the 40-qubit Quantum Algorithms?
  11. September 22. Fractional Quantum Advantage — Stepping Stones to Dramatic Quantum Advantage.
  12. October 6. Beyond NISQ — Terms for Quantum Computers Based on Noisy, Near-perfect, and Fault-tolerant Qubits.
  13. October 20. Essential and Urgent Research Areas for Quantum Computing.
  14. November 3. Model for Pre-commercialization Required Before Quantum Computing Is Ready for Commercialization.
  15. November 17. Prescription for Advancing Quantum Computing Much More Rapidly: Hold Off on Commercialization but Double Down on Pre-commercialization.
  16. December 1. My Quantum Computing Wish List for Christmas 2021 and New Year 2022.
  17. December 15. Preliminary Thoughts on the IBM 127-qubit Eagle Quantum Computer.
  18. December 29. What Is a Near-perfect Qubit?
  1. January 12. Configurable Packaged Quantum Solutions Are the Greatest Opportunity for Widespread Adoption of Quantum Computing.
  2. January 26. Three Stages of Adoption for Quantum Computing: The ENIAC Moment, Configurable Packaged Quantum Solutions, and The FORTRAN Moment.
  3. February 9. Quantum Computing Advances We Need to See Over the Coming 12 to 18 to 24 Months to Stay on Track.
  4. February 23. What Single Advance in Quantum Computing Is Most Needed in the Near Future?
  5. March 9. Risk Is Rising for a Quantum Winter for Quantum Computing in Two to Three Years.
  6. March 23. Speculative Preview of the IBM 433-qubit Osprey Quantum Computer.
  7. April 6. Need for an Association for Quantum Computing Machinery.
  8. April 20. What Is Quantum Information?
  9. May 4. Call for Intel to Focus on Components for Others to Easily Build Their Own Quantum Computers.
  10. May 18. Proposal for a Quantum Capabilities Label for Quantum Computers, Algorithms, and Applications.
  11. June 1. Is Lack of Fine Granularity of Phase and Probability Amplitude the Fatal Achilles Heel Which Dooms Quantum Computing to Severely Limited Utility?
  12. June 15. 48 Fully-connected Near-perfect Qubits As the Sweet Spot Goal for Near-term Quantum Computing.
  13. June 29. Risks of Premature Commercialization of Quantum Computing.
  14. July 13. What Is a Quantum Computer?
  15. July 27. What Is Quantum Computing?
  16. August 9. Thoughts on the 2022 IBM Quantum Roadmap Update.
  17. August 24. Initial Thoughts on Personas, Use Cases, and Access Patterns for Quantum Computing.
  18. September 7. Elevator Pitch for Quantum Computing.
  19. September 21. Preparing for the Next Stage of My Quantum Journey.

Completed the last item on my what’s next list

Maybe it’s notable that I’ve actually completed the very last item on my What’s next? list from my last quantum journey report:

  • One of these days I’ll be tempted to take a shot at writing What is Quantum Computing?

My best writing, introducing quantum computing

Maybe the main accomplishment of my writing over the past two years is the completion of a small set of informal papers which constitute a reasonably high-level introduction to quantum computing.

  1. What Is Quantum Computing?
  2. What Is a Quantum Computer?
  3. What Is Quantum Information?
  4. What Is Quantum Information Science?
  5. What Are Quantum Effects and How Do They Enable Quantum Information Science?

Still plenty of topics on my writing to-do list

To be clear, despite all of the writing I have done, there are still plenty of topics left for me to write about on my writing to-do list.

How I got to this as a transition point

So, why now? Why did I need to consider a transition in my quantum journey right now as opposed to six months ago, a year ago, or some other time? How did I get to this point? Here’s what happened…

Any regrets? No, not really

The past two years — even five years — have been quite a wild ride. Sure, there are plenty of things I might have wished had played out differently, or done differently myself, but I honestly can say that I don’t really have any significant regrets.

Was this stage 1 or… what?

Which stage am I just completing now? Some possibilities:

  1. Is it really stage 1? Maybe. That’s the presumption.
  2. Stage 2. Maybe from November 2017 to 2020 was really stage 1. And before November 2017 was stage 0. Did I just complete two stages — initial awareness and learning, then hitting a level of comprehension and articulation?
  3. Stage 3. Maybe before November 2017 was really stage 1, 2018 to 2020 was stage two, and 2020–2022 was stage 3.
  4. Stage 0. I’m still learning a lot of essentially fundamental aspects of quantum computing. There’s a lot more nuance, depth, and breadth than most people let on. And the technology still has a long way to go until it’s ready to be commercialized. Maybe stage 1 should wait until commercialization is underway or about to commence.

Activities I’ll likely definitely continue going forward

Actually, it will be virtually all of the activities I currently pursue except for regular and frequent posting of my long but informal papers, and likely with a somewhat lower level of intensity:

  1. Watching the news flow for quantum computing. Especially product announcements and research advances.
  2. Trying to avoid the hype.
  3. Reading academic journal papers. Or at least scanning them. Primarily on arXiv.org, or journal websites if open access.
  4. Watching posts on LinkedIn for quantum computing connections.
  5. Engaging in dialog with LinkedIn connections.
  6. Making new connections on LinkedIn for quantum computing.
  7. Google searches and reading for topics that pop up.
  8. Only occasionally writing informal papers. All posted on Medium.
  9. Updating my glossary of terms for quantum computing.
  10. Adding new topics to my list of future topics for my writing. Just not regularly writing about them. But others can write about them.
  11. Updating the annotations on topics on my list of future topics for my writing. Sometimes I have updates or additional thoughts I want to record.
  12. Updating my existing papers as I notice items that need to be updated or added. Most of my informal papers don’t get updated, but some do.
  13. Successfully avoid writing a book. As appealing as writing a book might seem, it is way too much of a distraction for me. A great book is a lot of effort, energy, time, and attention. A mediocre book is much easier, but not of interest to me. I don’t need to write a book just so that I can say that I wrote a book.

Progress in the quantum computing sector over the past two years

This is an oversimplification, but suitable for the purposes of this informal paper.

  1. More qubits.
  2. More vendors of quantum computing hardware.
  3. More quantum computers.
  4. But only modest improvement in qubit fidelity.
  5. Lots of prototyping.
  6. Recognition that quantum computers can excel at generating true random numbers.
  7. No attention being given to fine granularity of phase and probability amplitude.
  8. Too much hype.
  9. Too little transparency.
  10. No significant increase in algorithm complexity.
  11. No significant attention to algorithmic building blocks.
  12. No attention given to formulation of a high-level programming model.
  13. No significant improvement in classical quantum simulator technology.
  14. Some tools and support software here and there.
  15. Nothing approaching production-scale applications for practical real-world problems.
  16. No detectable progress on implementing Shor’s factoring algorithm.
  17. No real progress in using quantum Fourier transform (QFT).
  18. No real progress in using quantum phase estimation (QPE).
  19. No significant progress in quantum error correction and achieving perfect logical qubits.

My options going forward

The possibilities that I am considering include, but are not limited to:

  1. Continue as I have. No significant change. Maybe a little fine tuning.
  2. Continue writing but at a slower pace. Maybe monthly or bimonthly.
  3. Continue writing but only occasionally rather than regularly. Whenever I feel the urge to write, rather than something every two weeks or monthly like clockwork.
  4. Take a short break, then continue as I have. Maybe just a month or two or three max. Time to reflect and adjust priorities.
  5. Short break and then reevaluate. No prejudgment as to what might come next. Just a little time to reflect. (In truth, I’m already reflecting as I write this paper!)
  6. Modest slowdown for 3–6 months, then continue. No full-stop break per se, but maybe just write less frequently for a few months before deciding what path to resume, with the default being to resume with my current writing pace of every two weeks.
  7. Continue writing at my current pace, but with some change of focus. Unclear what that change of focus might be, but there are plenty of options.
  8. Reruns of my past papers. No significant new writing, at least not on any regular basis, just highlight key points from my past writing which are especially relevant to issues that are popping up at the moment. Demonstrate that my past writing has current relevance.
  9. Regular or occasional public service announcements might be helpful. Periodic or occasional reruns of some of my past papers for issues that simply aren’t getting enough attention.
  10. Post on LinkedIn as I add topics to my list of topics for future papers. This generally includes an annotation with few short comments about the topic. Others might find these useful or interesting — and easier to read than a full-length paper.
  11. Radio silence, at least for a time. Either until some noteworthy events capture my attention, or maybe for some fixed period of time — a few months, maybe — before I come up for air and post a status update based on what may have transpired — or not — during my silence. Just because I might go silent doesn’t imply that I might be inactive, just not communicative. I’m not terribly inclined to opt for strict radio silence, as opposed to simply reducing my level of engagement, but it is still an option worth considering, possibly at particular times or stages even if not for indefinitely extended periods of time.
  12. Switch to a focus on the underlying physics. Gain a better insight to what makes qubits really tick. Or spin.
  13. Switch to a focus on photonics. I know so little about photonics. I’d like to evaluate whether a general-purpose photonic quantum computer is even theoretically possible. I can’t even answer the question of how two photons could interact under Bose-Einstein Statistics (BES), such as for entanglement or executing gate operations.
  14. Switch to a focus on the intersection of quantum and AI. Not the current fads of machine learning and QML, but more on how quantum effects might be needed to enable true intelligence. How quantum effects may be required for a human brain and human mind to function, intelligently. Might quantum effects be needed to achieve true higher-order human-level intelligence (AGI), or maybe needed even for basic animal intelligence. Unfortunately, this is more of a blue-sky research area rather than primed for commercialization. Still, if that’s what captures my attention, so be it.
  15. Focus on advances in classical quantum simulators rather than real quantum computers. Simulators configured with noise models approximating the real quantum computers expected in two to four years would be more practical targets for algorithm research, prototyping, and experimentation than current noisy real quantum computers. These are unexploited near-term opportunities that don’t require the time and expense of massive levels of multi-year research and engineering investments.
  16. Focus on hard-core research, don’t get distracted by misguided efforts to engage in premature commercialization. The fundamentals needed to produce better qubits with better connectivity. Pass on systems with low qubit fidelity (less than three nines), weak connectivity (not full any to any connectivity), or coarse granularity of phase and probability amplitude.
  17. Deeper dive on quantum error correction (QEC). A research topic. I was an eager booster in this area, but now I have some doubts. Need to dig deeper.
  18. Deeper dive on Shor’s factoring algorithm. A research topic. Try to answer more of the unanswered questions. Dig deeper into Miller’s 1976 primality test paper, upon which Shor’s algorithm is based.
  19. Switch to a focus on the other areas of quantum information science (QIS). Besides quantum computing, quantum information science also includes quantum communication, quantum networking, quantum metrology, and quantum sensing.
  20. More writing as I learn more. There are plenty of interesting topics on my writing list that I just don’t have enough knowledge about to write about them just yet. As I incrementally gain more knowledge, more of those topics will become ripe for writing.
  21. Updating my glossary of terms for quantum computing. Try to flesh out more of the TBD entries.
  22. Blogging or LinkedIn posts. Enough long-form writing. Focus on short, pithy posts.
  23. LinkedIn commentary posts. Comment on news or timely topics. Make short, specific points.
  24. Take a longer break, months or more, continue only when something noteworthy pops up. See the section Potential gating factors for resuming from any prolonged break.
  25. Inflection points will get my attention. Something dramatic occurs out of the blue and suddenly everything is different. A sea change. A sudden and dramatic acceleration of progress. Some true breakthrough rather than predictable incremental progress. These moments will definitely get my attention, but there won’t be many of them, or at least they won’t be very frequent.
  26. A true game-changer would get my attention. Something that turns the whole sector upside down in some palpably meaningful manner.
  27. Significantly more transparency would get my attention. Vendors are being rather stingy about what they make public. More detailed product roadmaps, great technical disclosure, detailed technical specifications, and much better technical documentation would get my attention.
  28. Rip van Winkle sleep for two years. The technology and market really do need that long to catch up with me. Maybe only 18 months. Maybe two and a half or even three years. Not a whole lot of value for me to add beyond what I’ve already done and written extensively.
  29. Pause until completion of pre-commercialization. Wait for all of the essential research to be completed and prototyping and experimentation shows that the technology really is ready to be commercialized. When quantum computing is ready to begin commercialization in earnest. Or possibly six months before this milestone is expected. Or maybe even a year.
  30. Pause until commercialization has begun in earnest. Not just when pre-commercialization appears to have been completed, but when there are palpable signs that commercialization has actually begun with some sense of seriousness.
  31. Set an expiration date but continue as I have until then. Like maybe another three, six, nine months, a year, fifteen months, or eighteen months before drawing my quantum journey to a nominal close. But I could restart if advances and my interest warrant.
  32. Continue as I have until retirement. Right up to the last day. The end of April 2024.
  33. Set an expiration date based on my official retirement but continue as I have until then. If I officially retire in April 2024, that would be in about 20 months. Maybe 2–3 months before that. Maybe six months before that. Or, maybe a full year before that to focus on getting into a cadence for actual official retirement. At a minimum, that would give me at least another eight months to culminate my quantum journey, but call it a year.
  34. Early retirement. Like maybe this report marks the end of my quantum journey. Although I could restart it at any time, such as when any dramatic advance occurs. Or just pop up for each major advance.
  35. Retire early, with the option of restarting if developments attract my attention. Seriously, I really have done enough already.
  36. My quantum journey is now at its end. This is it, this is my final post of my quantum journey. By the time you read this my quantum journey will have ended. Sure, maybe there will be a few stragglers, some lingering posts that I forgot about, but no new wave of posts on any kind of regular schedule.
  37. Cut my work-like activity significantly or somewhat, but still remain somewhat active. Activity doesn’t need to be an all or nothing choice. I could cut my work-like activity in half, or by a quarter, or by three quarters, or even by 90%, but still remain at least somewhat active. I have the freedom to be flexible in this regard.
  38. Mix and match. Some combination of various aspects of any of the above options. A little of this, a little of that. But choose carefully.
  39. Trial and error of aspects of the various options over 3–6 months. There might be some interesting possibilities I am not aware of. Just try some things even if they seem a little risky or uncertain to be slamdunk successes.
  40. Experiment for the next 3–6 months. May be methodical sometimes. May be risky sometimes. But with an attitude of discovering a new path that delivers great results for me — that I find very satisfying and very productive. Maybe it means going slower sometimes, and faster at other times, but picking and choosing the pace that seems right for me at the moment.
  41. Plenty of possibilities of things that could attract me in the coming months and years, but how many of them will actually happen in the next period of time. Can be open to anything that pops up. Have to be careful to avoid setting expectations to levels that may not be likely to be achieved in the next period of time (three to six to nine months or a year or so.)

Options I won’t be considering

My philosophy is never say never, but these are options that I won’t be considering:

  1. Focus on reviews and responses for announcements, press releases, and news. I don’t feel that I would be adding a lot of value, except in some cases, a minority of cases.
  2. Policing hype. Hype patrol. A thankless, never-ending task. It can be appealing at times, but rarely productive. Not a productive use of my energy.
  3. Policing anti-hype. Legitimate and thoughtful criticism is fine, even great, but rabid Luddite-style exaggerated criticism and outright and even irrational opposition to quantum computing is just as counterproductive as excessively-cheery hype. But, once again, it is a thankless, never-ending task. It can be appealing at times, but rarely productive. Not a productive use of my energy.
  4. Policing misleading commercialization claims. Same as for hype. These are situations where people are saying a product or service is “commercial” — meaning somebody is supposedly paying money for it, but the product or service is simply not capable or ready to support production-scale practical real-world quantum applications ready for production deployment. Typically it simply means offering pre-commercial products and services for advanced technology groups to do research, prototyping, and experimentation to evaluate the technology, but not ready for production-scale production deployment.
  5. Policing misuse of vocabulary. Ditto as for policing hype. In fact, much of the hype is simply misleading use of terminology.
  6. Detailed evaluations of products and services.
  7. Product reviews. I may occasionally comment on product or service offerings, but not full product reviews and not on any regular basis.
  8. Hands-on work. Designing algorithms. Writing code. No longer my thing. I’ll leave it to the younger generation.
  9. Employment. No way. Zero interest. That’s in the past for me.
  10. Consulting. Well, maybe, some, if it has enough appeal to me besides the money. But barring unusual and exceptional situations, this option is off the table for me.
  11. Start a company. That can certainly be enticing and intoxicating, but I’m well past that stage of my career.
  12. Technical advisor to a startup. Interesting, but if my past writing doesn’t provide them with the advice they need, there’s nothing else for me to add personally.
  13. Technical advisor to an established firm or organization. Ditto. They can just read what I’ve already written.
  14. Venture capital. Not too many years ago I would have leaped at the opportunity to work at a venture capital firm, but these days… not so much. Years ago I would have considered a junior position, but no longer. Worst of all, I consider quantum computing to still be at the research and pre-commercialization stage, where venture capital with a short attention span would be inappropriate.
  15. Market analyst. Again, quantum computing is still deep in the pre-commercialization stage. Planning for commercialization is still grossly premature.
  16. Securities analyst. Again, premature commercialization is a really bad idea at this stage.
  17. Technology journalism. Just not interested.
  18. Writing or blogging for a website. Just not interested.
  19. Conferences. I’m just not a big conference person.
  20. Courses. Not a big formal training person.
  21. Pursuing an advanced college degree. I’m not a big formal education person.
  22. Anything requiring money. My budget is $0 — zero.
  23. Write a book. That has some appeal, but it’s too much of a labor of love for me to get too invested into it. Writing informally is more my style.
  24. Reading books. Again, not my style. We have the Internet, plenty of free, online material, including online books. Lecture notes and academic papers are more my style.
  25. Podcasts. Just not my thing. And implies a deeper involvement, which I don’t expect at this juncture.
  26. Videos. Ditto. As with podcasts.
  27. Writing formal papers. Not my thing. Too much effort. And I don’t really have the credentials for that.
  28. Posting some of my writing on arXiv. Well, I could do that, and may even try it, but only if there is sufficient demand. Otherwise, it’s just not my thing. And still too much effort.

My top options

No sense of any commitment or limitation here, but simply to highlight a small number of the many options:

  1. Continue as before, but maybe at a slower writing pace.
  2. Short break and then reevaluate. No prejudgment as to what might come next
  3. Short break, then continue as before. Reflect and adjust priorities, a little.
  4. Reruns of my past papers. No significant new writing, at least not on any regular basis, just highlight key points from my past writing which are especially relevant to issues that are popping up at the moment. Demonstrate that my past writing has current relevance.
  5. Regular or occasional public service announcements might be helpful. Periodic or occasional reruns of some of my past papers for issues that simply aren’t getting enough attention.
  6. Post on LinkedIn as I add topics to my list of topics for future papers. This generally includes an annotation with few short comments about the topic. Others might find these useful or interesting — and easier to read than a full-length paper.
  7. LinkedIn commentary posts. Comment on news or timely topics. Make short, specific points.
  8. Wait for near-perfect qubits. Wait until we commonly see qubit fidelity of 3.5 nines or better. Or maybe even 3.25 nines. Or maybe hold out until 3.75 or even 4 nines of qubit fidelity are common.
  9. Rip van Winkle sleep for two years. The technology and market really do need that long to catch up with me. Maybe only 18 months. Maybe two and a half or even three years.
  10. Retire early, with the option of restarting if developments attract my attention. Seriously, I really have done enough already.

Reruns of my past papers are an appealing option

A lot of my papers — most of them — are more relevant to the future than to the present. I usually write about whatever interests me, when it interests me, regardless of what’s going on in the market at the moment. But at some point the future will become now, in which case my past papers will eventually take on significantly more relevance than when I originally wrote them.

Regular or occasional public service announcements might be helpful

People tend to get stuck, sidetracked, or distracted, taking their eye off the ball and losing sight of the big picture. Occasional or even periodic reminders about key issues can be helpful. Periodic or occasional reruns of some of my past papers for issues that simply aren’t getting enough attention could be very helpful.

One promising scenario — reruns and PSAs while I wait for some technical criteria to be achieved

Not to suggest that this is actually my most likely scenario, but one that shows an interesting degree of promise is:

  1. Main focus of my effort would be reruns and public service announcements (PSAs) for my existing papers. Focus each post on making a specific point, rather than simply trying to call attention to my writing.
  2. Wait for near-perfect qubits before getting more serious. Wait for 3.5 nines of qubit fidelity. Maybe 3.25 nines. Or maybe hold out for 3.75 or even 4 nines.
  3. Wait for either full connectivity for transmon qubits or 32 to 40 qubits for trapped ion or neutral atom qubits. And near-perfect qubits as well.
  4. Wait for reasonably fine granularity of phase and probability amplitude. Sufficient for 12 to 20-bit quantum Fourier transform.
  5. Wait for 24 to 28-qubit algorithms. Likely implies that we have fully-connected near-perfect qubits, as well as reasonably fine granularity for phase and probability amplitude. Or maybe hold out for 40-qubit algorithms.
  6. Wait for quantum Fourier transform (QFT) and quantum phase estimation (QPE) for 12 to 20 qubits. When quantum Fourier transform and quantum phase estimation have become common in new quantum algorithms. When quantum computational chemistry switches from variational methods to quantum phase estimation.
  7. Wait for Quantum Volume (QV) of 16 million to 256 million. Enabling high-quality algorithms using 24 to 28 qubits.

Continue adding new topics to my list of future topics for my writing

I’m constantly coming up with new topics to write about. I never get around to most of them, but I do add them to a list for future reference, and sometimes I eventually do write about some of them. I expect to continue to do so — adding to the list, but just not regularly writing about them.

Updating my glossary of terms for quantum computing

I tend to add an entry to my glossary of terms for quantum computing every time I stumble into a term I don’t recognize. It currently has over 3,000 entries. When possible, I actually supply a clear, concise, and complete definition for each term I add, but unfortunately too frequently I am unable to quickly come up with a clear, concise, and complete definition for each term I add, so quite a few are marked TBD — To Be Determined.

I’m a novelty junkie

I’m amazed that I’ve lasted so long in my quantum journey — almost five years, so far. Usually I begin to get bored much quicker. I’m generally really into something when it is new and exciting. Once it gets tired, stale, repetitive, static, and stable, I lose interest and move on. Luckily the quantum sector is quite dynamic. So it’s managed to attract and hold my interest.

What would be most boring for me: a coherent roadmap with clear milestones which are achieved in a methodical manner

What would cause me to become most bored and quickly lose interest in quantum computing?

My default choice is to continue as before, or take a little break, try a few things differently for a few months, and then decide

My default choice is to not make a lot of major changes right now, and to roughly continue as before.

What objective should I focus on?

It’s a great question, but I don’t have any truly satisfying answer as to what my primary objective should be for the next stage of my quantum journey, other than simply to continue my overall interest in quantum computing — its capabilities, limitations, and issues, as expressed in my paper just over two years ago (June 2020):

What’s worthy of my attention?

That’s another great question with no truly satisfying answer. Indeed, what exactly is worthy of my attention?

Uncharted territory

The simple truth is that the quantum computing sector is uncharted territory. And my relationship to the sector is as well. Sure, people have plenty of expectations, vendors have roadmaps, and plenty of promises have been made, but nobody knows how things will really play out. Ditto for me.

  1. Which promising avenues simply won’t pan out.
  2. What unexpected discoveries lurk around every corner.
  3. Which large projects can be completed much more quickly than expected.
  4. Which modest projects will take much longer than expected.
  5. Aspects of physics which have not yet been discovered.
  6. Which apparent limits of physics can be transcended simply with clever tricks.

My model is to write only when I can’t resist writing

I try not to approach writing as an obligation or commitment or anything resembling a job or job responsibility. Instead, I write only when I feel like writing. Or as I like to put it, I only write when I can’t resist writing.

Why I would consider a break

To put it most simply, most of my thinking and writing has been well ahead of the current technology, current market, and even most of the current thinking about the near-term prospects for quantum computing. It’s just really starting to feel as if I need to stop and wait while the technology and market catch up with me.

  1. A lot of technology progress is needed.
  2. A lot of algorithm development is needed.
  3. Further effort by me will likely fall on deaf ears since I’m already well ahead of the market.

Potential gating factors for resuming from any prolonged break

If I do decide to take a prolonged break from quantum computing — more than a few months — the question arises as to what specific technical criteria to use as the gating criteria for when to resume any significant involvement in quantum computing. Any single factor or combination of factors could trigger my reengagement — not all are required.

  1. Inflection points. Something dramatic occurs out of the blue and suddenly everything is different. A sea change. A sudden and dramatic acceleration of progress. Some true breakthrough rather than predictable incremental progress. These moments will definitely get my attention, but there won’t be many of them, or at least they won’t be very frequent.
  2. A true game-changer would get my attention. Something that turns the whole sector upside down in some palpably meaningful manner.
  3. Significantly more transparency would get my attention. Vendors are being rather stingy about what they make public. More detailed product roadmaps, great technical disclosure, detailed technical specifications, and much better technical documentation would get my attention.
  4. Specific elapsed time. Nothing technical, just enough time to elapse that something significant is likely to have changed.
  5. Specific technical factors. See the next section.
  6. Specific negative factors. Factors preventing or deterring me from resuming from a beak. See subsequent section.
  7. Notable product releases. Not just hype promises, but actual availability. But that would probably trigger one or more of the specific technical factors listed below.
  8. Peek at major product releases. Even if specific technical factor gating thresholds are not reached, major product releases may at least warrant a brief peek without a full resumption of my involvement in quantum computing. Examples being IBM’s Osprey, Condor, Heron, Flamingo, and Kookaburra.
  9. Until technology and the market have substantially caught up with me and my writing. I focus so much on the future, beyond the next year or two. Give the technology and market time to catch up with at least some of my speculation, predictions, forecasts, and requirements.
  10. A pickup in the pace of advances.
  11. An increase in the degree of each advance. Such as finally a decent increase in qubit fidelity, qubit connectivity, fine granularity of phase and probability amplitude, and maximum circuit size.
  12. Completion of pre-commercialization. When quantum computing is ready to begin commercialization in earnest. Or possibly six months before this milestone is expected. Or maybe even a year.
  13. Commercialization has begun. Not just when pre-commercialization appears to have been completed, but when there are palpable signs that commercialization has actually begun with some sense of seriousness.
  14. Widespread usage of SLAs. Commercialization won’t be a reality until customers are getting commitments for availability and quality via signed, contractual service level agreements (SLAs). No SLAs, no commercialization. Widespread SLAs, widespread commercial adoption.
  15. My retirement. Would nominally end my quantum journey, in theory.

Inflection points will get my intention

A lot of progress is expected in the coming months, years, and decades. A lot of it will be somewhat predictable, but occasionally something will happen, a true breakthrough, a sea change, which wasn’t predicted or expected, and suddenly everything changes, and progress accelerates dramatically. These occasions are inflection points.

Is it an inflection point or just a milestone?

What exactly is the difference between a mere milestone and a meaningful inflection point?

  1. A milestone could be relatively minor. Although it could be major.
  2. An inflection point must be dramatically consequential. It can never be minor or have minimal consequences.
  1. A major milestone ends up being a dud. It was expected to have dramatic consequences, but it just didn’t turn out that way.
  2. A relatively minor milestone ends up being a huge success. It just happens that way, sometimes. What seemed minor in foresight ended up being very consequential in hindsight.
  1. Milestones which turn into inflection points. Incremental progress is of little interest to me.
  2. Non-milestone events which turn into inflection points. All that matters is that it turned out as an inflection point, not how it started.
  3. Milestones which are expected to be inflection points. Either I or the sector in general has very high expectations. My interest and role will not be as a cheerleader, but to calmly and rationally analyze the results of the milestone to assess whether it is indeed showing promise of becoming an inflection point.

Negative inflection points

One other thing about inflection points: They’re not always positive events. They’re generally positive events, but they could be negative as well.

  1. Onset of a Quantum Winter.
  2. Recession. Hits everybody.
  3. Financial crisis. Hits everybody.
  4. Public health crisis. Such as a pandemic.
  5. Weather crisis. Storms, droughts, floods.
  6. Natural disasters. Earthquakes, volcanos.
  7. Market saturation. It eventually happens.
  8. Investment bubble. The technology may be great, but there may be too many firms chasing a fixed amount of opportunities.
  9. Technology wall. Hitting some limit of the technology. May or may not have been foreseen.
  10. War. Armed conflict disrupting daily and business life.
  11. Talent shortage. Not enough skilled or trainable people to fill required positions.

A true game-changer would get my attention

A game-changer is something, some event or some technological breakthrough, that turns the whole sector upside down in some palpably meaningful manner. That would get my attention and cause me to get more engaged with the quantum computing sector.

Significantly more transparency would get my attention

Vendors are being rather stingy about what they make public. They excel at flowery rhetoric and wild or vague promises. Technical disclosure not so much.

  1. More detailed product roadmaps.
  2. Greater technical disclosure.
  3. Detailed technical specifications.
  4. Much better technical documentation.

Potential specific technical gating factors for resuming from any prolonged break

Any number of potential specific technical gating factors could pique my curiosity and get me back from any break and back into the game with more vigor. Any single factor or combination of factors could trigger my reengagement — not all are required. Some of the factors are:

  1. Qubit fidelity. Minimum of three nines, commonly available. Maybe 3.25, 3.50, or even 3.75 nines. Maybe even four nines of qubit fidelity.
  2. Near-perfect qubits. Enough that the floodgates open and many algorithms are generally no longer limited by qubit fidelity.
  3. Better qubit connectivity. Preferably full any to any connectivity such as using a quantum state bus. Anything is better than SWAP networks.
  4. Maximum circuit size. Maybe 100, 250, 500, 1K, or even 2K gates. 1,000 gates would be a significant breakthrough, although 2,000 or even 2,5000 gates might be the breakthrough that would really be needed to capture my attention since this is what would be needed to implement a 20-qubit quantum Fourier transform or quantum phase estimation to produce a million to one significant quantum advantage over classical solutions. This would also imply a significant breakthrough in coherence time and gate execution time.
  5. Quantum Volume (QV). Maybe 4K, 8K, or even 16K. Or maybe just 2K.
  6. Advent of a new benchmarking metric to replace Quantum Volume (QV). Since Quantum Volume won’t work for around 50 or more qubits. And it may be problematic even at 40 or 36 or 32 or even 28 qubits since it requires a full classical simulation of a complex quantum circuit.
  7. Vendors paying attention to the granularity of phase and probability amplitude. Commitment to supporting finer granularity.
  8. Larger algorithms. 40-qubit algorithms would definitely get my attention. And possibly 32-qubit algorithms. Even 24-qubit algorithms should be enough to get my attention. Maybe 28 qubits. Or maybe just 20-qubit algorithms becoming common, which is not the case today.
  9. Anything substantially more than toy algorithms. Any algorithm using 5 or 7 or even 11 qubits is a mere toy. Even 15 qubits is a toy algorithm. Substance starts at 16 bits, and maybe even 20 qubits or 24 qubits should mark the starting point for an algorithm worth paying attention to.
  10. Common use of quantum Fourier transform (QFT). At least 10 bits. Maybe 12 or even 14 bits. 16 to 20 bits eventually. Enough that developers of quantum application categories such as quantum computational chemistry are weaned away from the dead-end of variational methods. Note that a quantum Fourier transform for n bits requires two times n qubits — to accommodate two registers, one for input, one for output.
  11. Quantum phase estimation (QPE) for a real-world application. Especially for quantum computational chemistry.
  12. My proposed 48 fully-connected near-perfect qubits quantum computer. Enough for a 20-bit quantum Fourier transform, and to achieve a significant quantum advantage of one million over a classical solution.
  13. Somebody begins using my proposed label for capabilities and requirements of quantum computers and quantum algorithms. Even one vendor, but preferably several vendors. And I want to see it used for algorithm requirements as well.
  14. Somebody finally produces a decent Hello World example for quantum computing. Both a quantum algorithm and quantum application which uses it. Must demonstrate some interesting and impressive level of quantum advantage and demonstrate quantum parallelism.
  15. Intel finally produces a fully-functional quantum computer. Or enough components to enable other vendors to build their own quantum computers using Intel components.
  16. The ENIAC Moment. The first significant production-scale practical real-world quantum application. Or maybe wait for the second or third one to prove that the initial success really can be replicated.
  17. Completion of pre-commercialization. When quantum computing is ready to begin commercialization in earnest. Or possibly six months before this milestone is expected. Or maybe even a year.
  18. Commercialization has begun. Not just when pre-commercialization appears to have been completed, but when there are palpable signs that commercialization has actually begun with some sense of seriousness.
  19. Configurable packaged quantum solutions are available to enable widespread adoption of quantum computing. The first time, or first few times, a configurable application can be successfully deployed — with the configuration developed by a developer who is not an elite quantum expert.
  20. Somebody finally produces a practical quantum computer. Will need one or more production-scale practical real-world applications to prove it. Or at least a significant fraction of that level of performance and capacity, something that persuasively convinces people that practical quantum computing really is just around the corner, within months or a year max, not multiple years. Two years might be a bearable threshold, but no longer than that.
  21. The advent of the NPISQ era. Finally move past noisy qubits. Or even the advent of the NPSSQ era — still under 50 qubits, but no longer so noisy. Requires near-perfect qubits (NP). When people generally acknowledge that the NISQ era is over and that near-perfect qubits are expected to be the norm.
  22. End of the NISQ era. Noisy qubits are no longer acceptable. Comes with the advent of the NPISQ or NISSQ era.
  23. Emergence of an Association for Quantum Computing Machinery. That might present some interesting opportunities for accelerating advances in the quantum computing sector.
  24. Demonstrate Shor’s algorithm for 6 to 8 or even 10 to 12-bit numbers on a real quantum computer. And on a simulator as well. This would show that the technology of quantum computers is actually starting to get serious.
  25. Quantum error correction (QEC) and perfect logical qubits. That could be a long wait, but it will enable many more quantum applications. Will also need a qubit count threshold, such as 24 logical qubits, 28, 32, 36, 40, or even 48 logical qubits — a handful of logical qubits, even under 16 may not be worthy of my attention since that wouldn’t enable production-scale quantum algorithms.
  26. The FORTRAN Moment with a high-level programming model. And probably quantum error correction and perfect logical qubits as well. This should really open the floodgates for widespread quantum algorithm and quantum application development. But this would be quite a long wait, years after even The ENIAC Moment.
  27. Emergence from a Quantum Winter. A Quantum WInter is unlikely in the next couple of years, but… never say never. Maybe in a few years it could be possible if too many vendors fail to keep too many promises. And then maybe it takes a few years for the technology to finally catch up with the promises.
  28. Inflection points will get my attention. Something dramatic occurs out of the blue and suddenly everything is different. A sea change. A sudden and dramatic acceleration of progress. Some true breakthrough rather than predictable incremental progress. These moments will definitely get my attention, but there won’t be many of them, or at least they won’t be very frequent. The technical nature of an inflection point will be very specific, just generally not predictable in advance. Or it may be predictable from a technical perspective, just not its timing.
  29. Significant advances in quantum networking. Not quantum communication, which is transmitting classical data using quantum technology, but sharing (entangling) of full quantum state between qubits on one quantum computer with qubits on one or more other quantum computers separated by some non-trivial distance. The goal is distributed quantum computing — where a single quantum computation can be spread over two or more distinct quantum computers. Still an early research effort, but eventually it will get exciting.

Potential specific negative gating factors preventing or deterring me from resuming from any prolonged break

Even if there are some positive gating factors appealing to my attention, negative factors could cause me to hold off. Some of the potential specific negative factors which could prevent or deter me from getting me back in the quantum game with vigor:

  1. Rampant hype.
  2. Increasing hype.
  3. Increasing indifference to hype.
  4. Wilder promises.
  5. Wilder claims.
  6. Misleading claims of commercial products. Declaring products and services to be commercial before they are truly ready for production deployment of production-scale practical real-world quantum applications. Implying that products and services are production-ready when they are only suitable for prototyping and experimentation with toy data.
  7. Premature commercialization. Pursuing commercial offerings with technology that is simply not ready for production deployment of production-scale practical real-world quantum applications. Or simply pursuing commercialization while the sector is deep in the pre-commercialization stage with much research remaining to be done.
  8. Excessive silliness and non-seriousness. People having too much fun and being too cavalier about slow progress. Fun is good but needs to be aligned with and dependent on a large amount of major progress. Fun without dramatic progress is a non-starter for me.
  9. Excessive proprietary intellectual property. Patents can be a good thing, but not if they are misused to block entry of new technology and competition, or to make entry prohibitively expensive, especially for startups or researchers.
  10. Onset of a Quantum Winter. A very bad thing. But, there may be fresh opportunities even when activity, especially unproductive frenzy, is diminished.
  11. Insufficient transparency for new announcements. Hype for new products and services without sufficient disclosure of technical details.
  12. Insufficient progress on qubit fidelity.
  13. Insufficient progress on qubit connectivity.
  14. Insufficient progress on finer granularity of phase and probability amplitude.
  15. Insufficient progress on quantum advantage. Remains more hype than reality.
  16. Still not seeing much in the way of algorithms using 20–24 qubits. We really need to see 28, 32, 36, 40, and 44-qubit algorithms, but if we can’t even muster much in the way of 20 to 24-qubit algorithms, we’re not ready to be taken seriously.
  17. Seeing a slowdown in interesting research results.
  18. Not seeing a pickup in interesting research results.
  19. Nobody is even talking about SLAs. Commercialization won’t be a reality until customers are getting commitments for availability and quality via signed, contractual service level agreements (SLAs). No SLAs, no commercialization. Widespread SLAs, widespread commercial adoption.
  20. Quantum computing is still a mere laboratory curiosity. Not yet ready for production deployment to address production-scale practical real-world problems. Everything people are doing just seems so… toy-like.
  21. Even relatively simple quantum algorithms and quantum applications require the superhuman effort of the lunatic fringe. Even relatively simple quantum computing is far beyond the abilities of mere mortal, average, normal, typical corporate technical staff. Unfortunately, this might not change until The FORTRAN Moment with a truly high-level programming model, although the availability of configurable packaged quantum solutions will permit widespread adoption of quantum solutions even if custom quantum algorithms are still beyond all but the lunatic fringe.
  22. Too many algorithms just for the sake of algorithms, without practical applications. We definitely need more quantum algorithms, but they need to be focused on solving customer problems, not developed just because we can or to prove some esoteric computer science point.
  23. Ongoing hype about Shor’s factoring algorithm. Starting with the notion that it has already proved itself even though it has not been implemented at any significant scale. Shor’s factoring algorithm could never be practical at scale — due to the lack of sufficiently fine granularity of phase for very large quantum Fourier transforms. As a paper algorithm, it has not proven anything. Academic papers should cease citing Shor’s factoring algorithm as if it had proven anything.
  24. Ongoing hype about Grover’s search algorithm. Starting with the notion that it can search databases or even unstructured databases, despite the fact that databases are by definition structured and tend to be indexed so that no searching (ala Grover) is required. Academic papers should cease citing Grover’s search algorithm.
  25. Ongoing hype about post-quantum cryptography (PQC). Starting with the notion that Shor’s factoring algorithm could ever be practical at scale — due to the lack of sufficiently fine granularity of phase for very large quantum Fourier transforms. Besides, post means after, so the hype is about cryptography during quantum computing, not after quantum computing. Nobody has any clue as to what form of computing might come after quantum computing. I’ve identified some serious issues with Shor’s factoring algorithm that mean that it will never be able to be implemented at scale. Apparently the experts at NIST and elsewhere don’t have the competence to see these same deficiencies. If these experts can’t understand the supposed threat, how can they be trusted to review, comprehend, prove, and approve a new encryption standard that addresses that presumed threat? Put simply, they can’t and shouldn’t be trusted.

Quantum computing is still a mere laboratory curiosity

Quantum computers are not ready for production-scale practical real-world quantum applications or production deployment and won’t be for the foreseeable future. Sure, they do exist today, but more for research, prototyping, experimentation, and demonstration than practical use. This makes them mere laboratory curiosities — we can look at them and imagine their future potential, but that potential does not yet exist for production-scale practical real-world quantum applications.

Quantum computing remains more suited for the lunatic fringe who will use anything than for normal, average technical staff

Eventually quantum computing will enter the mainstream of computing, but for now and the foreseeable future it will be suitable only for the lunatic fringe, those elite experts and early adopters who are able to master and exploit the most obscure and difficult to use technology that is far from ready for use by normal, average technical staff — and far from ready for production deployment.

My proposal for a quantum computer with 48 fully-connected near-perfect qubits as a strong contender for the primary technical gating factor

If I might be considering a one to two year break anyway, my proposal for a quantum computer with 48 fully-connected near-perfect qubits might be the ideal candidate for the primary technical gating factor before I resume my quantum journey in earnest.

Somebody begins using my proposed label for capabilities and requirements of quantum computers and quantum algorithms

This speaks to transparency and the need for greater technical disclosure. My ears would perk up if one or more vendors began using my proposed label for quantum capabilities for quantum computers as well as requirements for quantum algorithms and applications.

How long might it be before I am likely to resume my quantum journey in earnest?

Here are the most likely scenarios for the timing of resumption of my quantum journey in earnest:

  1. Immediately. Just a blink of the eye. I may be raising this as a question, but it may be a foregone conclusion — and I just don’t realize it until it actually happens.
  2. A few weeks, a month. A rather short break just to reflect a little, adjust a little, and then full steam ahead.
  3. Two to three months. A reasonable break. A clear break. But then full steam ahead, as if nothing had happened.
  4. Three to six months. A fairly decent break. Plenty of time to figure a lot of things out. And plenty of time for technology and the market to advance in a palpable or even noteworthy manner.
  5. Six to nine months. Risk of getting distracted by and sucked into other things — such as AI.
  6. A year. Now that would be a real break.
  7. Eighteen months. I’d probably be off working on other projects by then.
  8. Two years. Likely waiting for some dramatic progress on the quantum front.
  9. Two to three years. By then it should be clear whether quantum is on the verge of either a practical quantum computer or… a Quantum Winter.
  10. Beyond that, maybe never. If I haven’t resumed my quantum journey in three or four years, it’s likely that I won’t be resuming it, ever. But… never say never!

How long can I break before knowledge begins to become stale and I fall behind on the advancing state of the art?

I’m open to how long a break I might take, but a constraining factor is that knowledge is advancing rapidly in quantum computing, so the longer I break, the faster I will begin to fall behind the rapidly-advancing state of the art of quantum computing.

I’ve made no final decision yet — just contemplating options

I haven’t even formally decided against continuing my quantum journey just as it was. I have a sense that some change would be helpful — and desirable, but that alone won’t force a decision one way or another.

Inclined to just play it month to month and expect that within three to six months I’ll achieve some clarity

Rather than make an immediate decision or even set a deadline for making a decision, it almost just feels right to me to just play my quantum journey on a month to month basis and see how it evolves — to evolve towards a revised quantum journey rather than make an artificial, and artificially-firm plan.

I could cut my work-like activity significantly or somewhat, but still remain somewhat active

Activity doesn’t need to be an all or nothing choice. I could cut my work-like activity significantly or just somewhat, but still remain at least somewhat active.

  1. Employment.
  2. Consulting.
  3. Technical writing.
  4. Reading of technical papers.
  5. Reading of technical media.
  6. Reading of technical books.
  7. Volunteer.
  8. Mentor.
  9. Advisor.
  1. Cut in half.
  2. Cut by a quarter.
  3. Cut by three quarters.
  4. Cut even by 90%.

Mix and match options

I don’t have to choose a single, definitive option for the next stage of my quantum journey — I can mix and match different aspects of different options.

The best-laid plans of mice and men — ask me again in a month!

Okay, so this informal paper is my best shot at laying out my options for the next stage of my quantum journey. But with as much diligence and attention as I’ve put into it, I do have to acknowledge that even before the (figurative) ink has dried, I may decide that some other option is more practical or more desirable.

What might I do if or when my quantum journey ends?

I already have four other, unrelated areas that get at least some of my attention, one technical, and three nontechnical:

  1. Artificial intelligence. As in AGI — artificial general intelligence. Not so-called machine learning or even so-called deep learning, which I don’t even consider AI proper. Digging deeper to understand all aspects of human intelligence or human-level intelligence, especially higher-order human-level intelligence is a significant interest. Understanding animal intelligence is a priority as well since much of so-called human intelligence is shared with animals — just not the higher-order intelligence. Or even just laying out a better map of what constitutes intelligence overall. Eventually quantum effects may come into play, but we’re not even close to that yet.
  2. Mental health. A huge social issue with no adequate solutions. Many social problems spring from untreated or inadequately-treated mental health problems.
  3. International relations. The geopolitical domain. Conflict between nations. For example, I was following Ukraine closely for five years before the onset of recent events.
  4. Values and social divides. Another huge social issue.

When exactly will the current stage of my quantum journey end and the next stage begin?

I’m not really sure. Maybe the de facto answer is that my quantum journey will transition to its next stage the moment this paper gets posted.

How long might this next stage of my quantum journey last?

The bottom line is that it is currently indeterminate how long a new stage of my quantum journey might last.

Quantum computing advances we need to see over the coming 12 to 18 to 24 months to stay on track

Back in February (2022) I wrote this informal paper on my expectations for advances that we needed to see in quantum computing over the next one to two years to stay on track for expectations that seemed to have been set for the sector.

What single advance in quantum computing is most needed in the near future? Higher qubit fidelity

The preceding section referred to the many advances needed to achieve a practical quantum computer. This section focuses on the single most important technical advance — higher qubit fidelity.

Ongoing hype about Shor’s factoring algorithm

One ongoing difficulty in quantum computing is the excess of hype about Shor’s factoring algorithm. Starting with the notion that it has already proved itself even though it has not been implemented at any significant scale.

Is quantum computing really viable? Still unclear

The central question in front of me and all around me since I began my quantum journey was and still is the question of whether quantum computing really is viable. In short, the jury is still out.

How much confidence do I have in the technical feasibility of quantum computing? Some, but…

As in the previous section, there are so many unanswered questions when it comes to the technical feasibility of many of the more esoteric aspects of quantum computing.

My quantum journey is not predicated on proof of viability for quantum computing

Regardless of how much longer it might take to achieve viability for quantum computing, or even simply answering the question about whether it really is viable, the appeal of my quantum journey still exists for me. It’s a hard problem, and I enjoy hard problems.

Retirement

I am rapidly approaching the end of my nominal career. I’m already past normal Social Security retirement age and less than two years from maximal Social Security benefits.

  1. Pre-retirement. The years leading up to retirement. Work or work-like activity is still strong.
  2. Early retirement. For those who are financially able and wish to. Bailing on any actual work, although work-like activity is still possible, more likely as volunteer work.
  3. Semi-retired. A hybrid. Open to work, may work some of the time, but significant intervals of time without formal work is acceptable. Fill any gaps with work-like activity. This is where I personally am right now.
  4. New retirement. First few years of retirement. Some modest level of work or work-like activity is reasonably possible. Focus on moving away from work and work-like activity. Supposed to be enjoying life after all of that hard work, but it can be a challenging transition for many.
  5. Mid-retirement. More than a few years after retirement. Work or work-like activity is the exception rather than the norm. Some advisory work may still make sense, but no major commitments. Time to really enjoy life.
  6. Late-retirement. Sunset years, golden years, or whatever you want to call them. Time to enjoy life — your last chance. No reasonable expectation of work or work-like activity.

Currently I am semi-retired, and that’s fine with me

I’m semi-retired now, since 2015, and that’s fine with me.

Expecting to officially retire in April/May 2024

I will hit the maximum Social Security benefit in April/May 2024. That will mark my official retirement.

Retirement doesn’t mean I can’t pursue technical and work-like projects, just that I have no obligation or commitment and don’t in any way feel compelled to pursue such projects

I don’t expect that my eventual retirement will simply be focused on golf and tennis, reading, travel, and visiting with friends. Sure, my retirement may include some or all of that. The important thing is that work and work-like activity won’t be permitted to have any sort of negative impact on my lifestyle or peace of mind.

  1. No obligation to work or pursue work.
  2. No work commitments.
  3. No obligation to engage in work-like activities.
  4. No commitments for work-like activities.
  5. No feeling of being compelled to work or pursue work-like activities.

Updating my future writing topics

As I’ve already indicated, I have completed most if not all of my most urgent writing priorities.

  1. Empty out my list of current writing interests.
  2. Empty out my list of Top 25 writing priorities.
  3. Empty out my list of 75 runners up for writing priority.

Is my quantum journey actually now at its end?

It could very well be that my quantum journey actually is at its end. It might be. I don’t think so, but it’s very possible.

Have I exhausted my efforts at understanding the capabilities, limitations, and issues of quantum computing? No, but a pause could give me some fresh perspective

I think I have exhausted my immediate and most pressing inquiries into the capabilities, limitations, and issues of quantum computing, but that’s just my higher priority interests.

Plenty of runway ahead for quantum computing and my interests in understanding its capabilities, limitations, and issues

Although quantum computing has made some amazing advances over the past five years, there are plenty of opportunities for continued advances. Or plenty of runway as some might say.

Too soon for my quantum swan song

Who knows, maybe in the coming months (or years) I may well decide that my quantum journey is at an end. At that point I will be ready to write my quantum swan song. But, it just doesn’t feel like that is going to happen any time soon. Still, you never know — never say never!

When and where and how will I let people know what I decided as far as the next stage of my quantum journey?

I just don’t know whether I’ll have an explicit post for what I finally decide for the next stage of my quantum journey. Maybe, for some scenarios, but maybe not for others.

Unlikely that I will be very active in quantum computing in five years

Five years is a long time. Although I hardly thought that I would be at this juncture when I started my quantum journey almost five years ago. Still, I can’t quite imagine that I will still be very active in quantum computing in five years.

Risk of a Quantum Winter

A Quantum WInter is unlikely in the next couple of years, but… never say never.

Alternative titles for this informal paper

I struggled to decide what to call this paper:

  1. Preparing for the next stage of my quantum journey.
  2. Contemplating the next stage of my quantum journey.
  3. Considering the next stage of my quantum journey.
  4. Reflections on my quantum journey.
  5. Pausing my quantum journey.
  6. Course correction for my quantum journey.
  7. Shifting gears for my quantum journey.

Never say never = 1 in 1,000 chance

Even when I make a fairly definitive statement, I tend to offer the caveat of my philosophy of never say never. What I mean by never say never is that there may be very little chance, but there is at least some chance. How much of a chance? I use the model of never say never meaning no more than a 1 in 1,000 chance. Significantly less than a 1% chance.

My original proposal for this topic

For reference, here is the original proposal I had for this topic. It may have some value for some people wanting a more concise summary of this paper.

  • Preparing for the next stage of my quantum journey. Coming up on five years — from November 2017. But also need to consider upcoming retirement in 21 months (April 2024.)

Summary and conclusions

  1. I consider my past two years as having been quite fruitful in quantum computing. Both the work — writing — that I’ve done, and keeping up with developments and advances in the technology and the market.
  2. Seriously, I’ve done enough writing already and feel that I’ve said all of the really important things I wanted to say.
  3. It feels like it’s time for me to pause, step back, and reflect to get some perspective before continuing.
  4. Any regrets? No, not really. I learned a lot and got a lot of satisfaction from my efforts over the past two and even five years. I honestly can say that I don’t know what I might have done any differently that might have left me at a better place than I am right now.
  5. I have no clear objective at this stage. I’ve already accomplished much of what I set out to do.
  6. Just wait for technology and the market to catch up with what I’ve been writing about. I’ve spent so much time living in the future of quantum computing. Time for some of that future to become the present.
  7. But there are still very many unknowns and question marks about quantum computing for me to say that my quantum journey is fully complete. My speculation about the future of quantum computing is far from comprehensive or necessarily accurate.
  8. Quantum computing has made a lot of progress in recent years. Especially since 2016.
  9. But still a long way to go to get to a practical quantum computer and any dramatic quantum advantage.
  10. We’re such a long way from a practical quantum computer with any significant quantum advantage which delivers compelling business value, so why bother paying much attention until we get a lot closer? It’s a balancing act. You don’t want to be too late, but being too early can be expensive, tiring, exhausting, and unproductive. There’s risk either way.
  11. Almost five years from my first attempt to dive into quantum computing. November 2017.
  12. Have some sense of how the next two years could go for quantum computing, but it could go a lot of different ways.
  13. Not so sure what my own quantum journey will actually look like over the next two years.
  14. I’ve identified quite a few options for how my quantum journey might evolve.
  15. I’ve identified a few preferred options.
  16. I may consider taking a break before I continue in earnest. Flexible as to how long, from a couple of months to a couple of years.
  17. I’ve identified factors that could influence whether or when I resume activity after a break. Some technical, some non-technical.
  18. I’ve identified a long list of technical factors and milestones that could influence whether or when I resume activity after a break.
  19. Inflection points will get my attention. Something dramatic occurs out of the blue and suddenly everything is different. A sea change. A sudden and dramatic acceleration of progress. Some true breakthrough rather than predictable incremental progress. These moments will definitely get my attention, but there won’t be many of them, or at least they won’t be very frequent.
  20. A true game-changer would get my attention. Something that turns the whole sector upside down in some palpably meaningful manner.
  21. Significantly more transparency would get my attention. Vendors are being rather stingy about what they make public. More detailed product roadmaps, greater technical disclosure, detailed technical specifications, and much better technical documentation would get my attention.
  22. Some negative factors could cause me to prolong a break.
  23. I may wait until quantum computing is no longer a mere laboratory curiosity. Not yet ready for production deployment to address production-scale practical real-world problems. Everything people are doing just seems so… toy-like.
  24. I may wait for The ENIAC Moment. The first significant production-scale practical real-world quantum application. Or maybe wait for the second or third one to prove that the initial success really can be replicated.
  25. I may wait until it is no longer true that even relatively simple quantum algorithms and quantum applications require the superhuman effort of the lunatic fringe. Even relatively simple quantum computing is far beyond the abilities of mere mortal, average, normal, typical corporate technical staff. Unfortunately, this might not change until The FORTRAN Moment with a truly high-level programming model, although the availability of configurable packaged quantum solutions will permit widespread adoption of quantum solutions even if custom quantum algorithms are still beyond all but the lunatic fringe.
  26. I may wait until I see my proposed 48 fully-connected near-perfect qubits quantum computer. Enough for a 20-bit quantum Fourier transform, and to achieve a significant quantum advantage of one million over a classical solution.
  27. I may wait until somebody begins using my proposed label for capabilities and requirements of quantum computers and quantum algorithms. Even one vendor, but preferably several vendors. And I want to see it used for algorithm requirements as well.
  28. I’ve identified plenty of low-intensity quantum-related activities I could likely continue even if I took a break.
  29. I’ve decided to defer deciding which option(s) to take until after this paper is posted.
  30. I may just try a few things over the coming months and see what seems to work best for me.
  31. Reruns of my past papers are an appealing option. Repost on LinkedIn for papers I’ve written in the past, with specific, narrow, and timely comments related to what’s going on in the quantum computing sector at the moment. Highlight the relevance of my past writing.
  32. Regular or occasional public service announcements might be helpful. Periodic or occasional reruns of some of my past papers for issues that simply aren’t getting enough attention.
  33. One promising scenario — reruns and PSAs while I wait for some technical criteria to be achieved. Might be the easiest, most productive, and most effective use of my time, energy, and attention. Technical criteria might include near-perfect qubits, either full connectivity for transmon qubits or 32 to 40 qubits for trapped ion or neutral atom qubits, reasonably fine granularity of phase and probability amplitude, and 24 to 28-qubit or even 40-qubit algorithms. And also wait for quantum Fourier transform (QFT) and quantum phase estimation (QPE) for 12 to 20 qubits, when quantum Fourier transform and quantum phase estimation have become common in new quantum algorithms, and when quantum computational chemistry switches from variational methods to quantum phase estimation. And wait for Quantum Volume (QV) of 16 million to 256 million, which enables high-quality algorithms using 24 to 28 qubits.
  34. Continue adding new topics to my list of future topics for my writing. Just not regularly writing about them. But others can write about them. What might change is that I may consider doing LinkedIn posts for some of the more interesting topics that I add to my list — just the topic title and my brief notes, but no full-length discourse. At a minimum, my writing topics, and their annotations, even if I decide not to write about them, are good food for thought that readers and connections might find helpful.
  35. Consider a switch to a focus on the underlying physics. Gain a better insight to what makes qubits really tick. Or spin.
  36. Consider a switch to a focus on photonics. I know so little about photonics. I’d like to evaluate whether a general-purpose photonic quantum computer is even theoretically possible. I can’t even answer the question of how two photons could interact under Bose-Einstein Statistics (BES), such as for entanglement or executing gate operations.
  37. Consider a switch to a focus on the intersection of quantum and AI. Not the current fads of machine learning and QML, but more on how quantum effects might be needed to enable true intelligence. How quantum effects may be required for a human brain and human mind to function, intelligently. Might quantum effects be needed to achieve true higher-order human-level intelligence (AGI), or maybe needed even for basic animal intelligence. Unfortunately, this is more of a blue-sky research area rather than primed for commercialization. Still, if that’s what captures my attention, so be it.
  38. Consider focusing on advances in classical quantum simulators rather than real quantum computers. Simulators configured with noise models approximating the real quantum computers expected in two to four years would be more practical targets for algorithm research, prototyping, and experimentation than current noisy real quantum computers. These are unexploited near-term opportunities that don’t require the time and expense of massive levels of multi-year research and engineering investments.
  39. Consider focusing on hard-core research, don’t get distracted by misguided efforts to engage in premature commercialization. The fundamentals needed to produce better qubits with better connectivity. Pass on systems with low qubit fidelity (less than three nines), weak connectivity (not full any to any connectivity), or coarse granularity of phase and probability amplitude.
  40. Consider a deeper dive on quantum error correction (QEC). A research topic. I was an eager booster in this area, but now I have some doubts. Need to dig deeper.
  41. Consider a deeper dive on Shor’s factoring algorithm. A research topic. Try to answer more of the unanswered questions. Dig deeper into Miller’s 1976 primality test paper, upon which Shor’s algorithm is based.
  42. Consider a switch to a focus on the other areas of quantum information science (QIS). Besides quantum computing, quantum information science also includes quantum communication, quantum networking, quantum metrology, and quantum sensing.
  43. Consider more writing as I learn more. There are plenty of interesting topics on my writing list that I just don’t have enough knowledge about to write about them just yet. As I incrementally gain more knowledge, more of those topics will become ripe for writing.
  44. Continue updating my glossary of terms for quantum computing. Maybe even try to flesh out the terms marked TBD — To Be Determined.
  45. I could cut my work-like activity significantly or somewhat, but still remain somewhat active. Activity doesn’t need to be an all or nothing choice. I could cut my work-like activity in half, or by a quarter, or by three quarters, or even by 90%, but still remain at least somewhat active. I have the freedom to be flexible in this regard.
  46. I don’t have to choose a single, definitive option — I can mix and match different aspects of different options. And evolve the mixing over time as the technology, market, and my interests evolve.
  47. I don’t have any clear and definitive objective for the next stage of my quantum journey. Other than that my essential focus for quantum computing is on its capabilities, limitations, and issues.
  48. My default choice is to continue as before, or take a little break, try a few things differently for a few months, and then decide.
  49. My model is to write only when I can’t resist writing.
  50. Is my quantum journey actually now at its end? It might be. I don’t think so, but it’s very possible. After all, I have completed so many of my most urgent writing interests. Let’s see in a few months.
  51. Have I exhausted my efforts at understanding the capabilities, limitations, and issues of quantum computing? No, but a brief or even longer pause at this juncture could allow me to rest, regroup, and give me some fresh perspective on how to look at quantum computing.
  52. Plenty of runway ahead for quantum computing and my interests in understanding its capabilities, limitations, and issues. How much of that I pursue, when, and at what pace, and at what depth remains to be seen.
  53. I may be officially retired in two years. It’s getting to be about that time. Work and work-like activities have lost most of their appeal for me. Not sure if any of the lingering appeal will remain in two years.
  54. No clarity as to whether I will be very involved in quantum computing two years from now.
  55. Unlikely that I will be very active in quantum computing in five years. Unlikely three years into retirement. But never say never.
  56. When and where and how I let people know about any decision I make will depend on my decision. Some decisions or experimentation may take months before it’s a final decision on the path and pace of my quantum journey and its next stage in particular.

--

--

Freelance Consultant

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store