Risk Is Rising for a Quantum Winter for Quantum Computing in Two to Three Years

  1. In a nutshell — A Quantum Winter is unlikely in two to three years, but…
  2. A Quantum Winter is unlikely in two to three years based on my personal expectations for progress, but… I’m an optimist, but… I’m also a pragmatic realist and the risks are rising
  3. Definition for technological winter
  4. Definition for Quantum Winter
  5. Technological seasonal cycle: winters, springs, summers, and falls
  6. Quantum winters, springs, summers, and falls
  7. The life of a technology can have any number of cycles of winter, spring, summer, and fall
  8. Quantum computing will have any number of cycles of winter, spring, summer, and fall
  9. Seasonal cycles are typical for advanced technologies, so why should quantum computing be any different?
  10. Definition for a technological summer
  11. Definition for a quantum summer
  12. Definition for a technological spring
  13. Definition for a quantum spring
  14. Technological falls
  15. Quantum falls
  16. Definition for a technological fall
  17. Definition for a quantum fall
  18. A technological winter is not the end of a technology but simply the end of one cycle of growth of the technology
  19. A Quantum Winter is not the end of quantum computing but simply the end of one cycle of growth of quantum computing
  20. A Quantum Winter is more of a pause or timeout than an ending
  21. Stages of a Quantum Winter
  22. A Quantum Winter is largely psychological in nature
  23. Sentiment matters
  24. Onset — How does a Quantum Winter start?
  25. What might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back?
  26. How might it get started?
  27. A Quantum Winter is less than likely, but… risk is there and gradually growing
  28. Yellow flags — Rising concerns about quantum computing
  29. Red flag: Hype and expectations are growing faster than the technology itself
  30. Still a mere laboratory curiosity
  31. Still more appropriate for the lunatic fringe rather than mainstream application developers
  32. How patient will investors and managers be if advances are not as rapid as expected?
  33. Patience will be the key factor determining the onset of a quantum winter
  34. Chief characteristics of a technological winter
  35. What will it be like while it’s happening?
  36. Telltale advance signs that a technological winter may be brewing
  37. So far, so good, but…
  38. Some telltale technical signs indicating rising risk of disappointment in quantum computing
  39. Non-technical warning signs for quantum computing
  40. Rising deficit of promises not yet fulfilled
  41. My disappointment with the IBM 127-qubit Eagle
  42. Attention quantum aficionados at large corporations — make sure your management and executive teams are well aware of these risks
  43. Stagnation? Not so far
  44. Will achieving The ENIAC Moment be critical to avoiding a Quantum Winter?
  45. Really need to hit The ENIAC Moment before people can finally feel that quantum computing is real and not a vague and distant promised land
  46. Is quantum error correction (QEC) needed to avert a Quantum Winter?
  47. If we don’t have quantum error correction, then we do need near-perfect qubits to avoid a deep Quantum Winter
  48. Will lack of higher qubit fidelity and enhanced qubit connectivity in IBM’s 433-qubit Osprey be enough to trigger a Quantum Winter?
  49. What will Osprey deliver?
  50. How far can we get without a high-level programming model and rich set of algorithmic building blocks?
  51. Current technology has plenty of runway to avoid a Quantum Winter
  52. Advances we need to see over the next two years to stay on track
  53. Yes, we can indeed count on further progress, but will it be enough to keep us on track and to sustain momentum?
  54. Sustaining momentum is everything — a slip in momentum can trigger a Quantum Winter
  55. Will there be a quantum winter? Or even more than one?
  56. But occasional Quantum Springs and Quantum Summers
  57. Quantum Falls?
  58. In truth, it will be a very long and very slow slog
  59. No predicting the precise flow of progress, with advances and setbacks
  60. Is a Quantum Winter likely in two to three years? No, but…
  61. Critical technical gating factors which could presage a Quantum Winter in two to three years
  62. Some technical walls could get hit
  63. Will trapped-ion qubits and neutral-atom qubits save the day?
  64. Will new and innovative qubit technologies appear on the scene and save the day?
  65. Premature commercialization is probably the single biggest risk for stumbling into a Quantum Winter
  66. Might we simply sleepwalk into a Quantum Winter?
  67. Different audiences and sectors will experience a Quantum Winter differently or maybe even not at all
  68. Risk of Quantum Winter is primarily for those engaged in premature commercialization — those involved with research and pre-commercialization should be fine
  69. Quantum Ready — All dressed up and no place to go
  70. We’re still in the full-on bliss of the honeymoon, but for how long?
  71. Saving grace: Nobody is calling quantum a mania or a bubble, yet
  72. What will assure that we can avoid this impending Quantum Winter?
  73. Even minimal quantum advantage may remain out of reach in two to three years, but achieving it could avert a Quantum Winter
  74. Single best way to avoid a Quantum Winter: Hold off on commercialization but double down on pre-commercialization
  75. Focus on research
  76. Wildcards
  77. What single advance within three years could turn the tide?
  78. Configurable packaged quantum solutions are the greatest opportunity for widespread adoption of quantum computing
  79. Roadmaps would help avoid disappointment — if they are informative and reasonably accurate
  80. My personal disappointments
  81. No quantum applications yet — a great unrealized promise
  82. General lack of scalable quantum algorithms and applications — they don’t seem to be a priority
  83. Will Shor’s factoring algorithm be able to factor even 8 to 12-bit semiprime integers?
  84. When might a Quantum Winter start?
  85. How long might a Quantum Winter last?
  86. It takes a protracted period of time to restore confidence
  87. What ends a Quantum Winter?
  88. Innovation to end a Quantum Winter
  89. Why haven’t we seen a Quantum Winter yet even though past progress over the past 25 years was frequently quite slow?
  90. My original proposal for this topic
  91. Summary and conclusions

In a nutshell — A Quantum Winter is unlikely in two to three years, but…

  1. A Quantum Winter is unlikely in two to three years based on my personal expectations for progress, but… I’m an optimist, but… I’m also a pragmatic realist and the risks are rising.
  2. Quantum Winter is unlikely, but… Quantum computing is making great progress, but it is uneven and there are warning signs that if left unchecked could lead to a Quantum Winter in two to three years.
  3. The tsunami is building slowly — but surely. Fueled by the raw energy of the massive hype and exaggerated and unrealistic expectations. Or large expectations which may be met, but might not be fully met. Maybe progress will be deep enough in two years that the energy of the tsunami will be distributed widely and not in some great wave that triggers a deep Quantum Winter which wipes out the field for many months or even years, or maybe it actually will be a wipeout. Flip a coin?
  4. Patience will be the key factor determining the onset of a quantum winter. Those with great patience will not be causing — or experiencing — a Quantum Winter. Patient capital will prevail.
  5. A Quantum Winter is largely psychological in nature. Sure, it’s based on issues with the technology, but it is the impact on human psychology that permits the technical issues to drive people into a Quantum Winter.
  6. Sentiment matters — positive sentiment is needed. Too much negative sentiment — two to three years from now, as opposed to today — could easily trigger a Quantum Winter. Too much neutral or indifferent sentiment could cause a Quantum Winter as well.
  7. If we do see a Quantum Winter it will be after we spend two years to presumably get to being on track for production-scale quantum applications, and then one year for disappointment and disenchantment to unfold into deep depression if it turns out that we are not on track after two years from now.
  8. Nominally in two years if not enough progress. Need near-perfect qubits — four or 3.5 nines. Need closer to full connectivity. Need coherence sufficient for fairly deep circuits. Need fine granularity of phase for 20 to 40-qubit quantum Fourier transform (QFT) and quantum phase estimation (QPE).
  9. Could start earlier than two years. If insufficient progress and rising disenchantment and disillusionment.
  10. Could start later than two years. If reasonable progress, but a few lingering key items and it just takes another few months or a year to realize that those items are just not as imminent as promised.
  11. People are starting to drink way too much of the marketing Kool-Aid. The elixir of impending commercialization is beginning to take root. And people are reluctant to commit to the hard work and slow slog of pre-commercialization, especially calm and gradual research.
  12. Still a mere laboratory curiosity. Quantum computing is still at the stage of being a mere laboratory curiosity, not even close to being ready for development and deployment of production-scale practical real-world quantum applications.
  13. Still more appropriate for the lunatic fringe rather than mainstream application developers.
  14. Premature commercialization. Single best way to cause a Quantum Winter is to pursue premature commercialization before the technology actually is ready to develop and deploy production-scale practical real-world quantum applications.
  15. Best way to avoid Quantum Winter is to hold off on commercialization and double down on pre-commercialization. Single best way to avoid a Quantum Winter is to avoid premature commercialization and double down on per-commercialization instead, particularly research. Focus on research, prototyping, and experimentation. It’s not yet time to get commercial efforts underway.

A Quantum Winter is unlikely in two to three years based on my personal expectations for progress, but… I’m an optimist, but… I’m also a pragmatic realist and the risks are rising

I don’t have any difficulty seeing viable paths to avoiding a Quantum Winter in two to three years, but… that’s me speaking as an optimist. But as a pragmatic realist I have to admit that substantial technical risks abound and are rising.

Definition for technological winter

A Quantum Winter is simply a special case of the broader concept of a technological winter.

  • A technological winter is a period of stagnation in the progress of a technology.
  • Alternatively, a technological winter is a period of reduced funding and interest in a technology.

Definition for Quantum Winter

A Quantum Winter is of course a specific type of technological winter:

  • A Quantum Winter is a period of stagnation in the progress of quantum computing.
  • Alternatively, a Quantum Winter is a period of reduced funding and interest in quantum computing.

Technological seasonal cycle: winters, springs, summers, and falls

Technological advance can be seen as a cycle with seasons — winter, spring, summer, and fall.

Quantum winters, springs, summers, and falls

As with a technological winter, the complement of a quantum winter is a quantum summer whose arrival is presaged by a quantum spring.

The life of a technology can have any number of cycles of winter, spring, summer, and fall

A technology can have any number of winters, springs, summers, and falls over its life.

Quantum computing will have any number of cycles of winter, spring, summer, and fall

Quantum computing will have any number of winters, springs, summers, and falls over its life.

Seasonal cycles are typical for advanced technologies, so why should quantum computing be any different?

I’ve lost track of how many AI Winters artificial intelligence has been through — let alone how many more it may have. Many or most advanced technologies inevitably experience seasonal cycles of some sort, with one or even more technological winters, so it may be unrealistic to expect that quantum computing won’t have its own share of seasonal cycles.

Definition for a technological summer

  • A technological summer is a period when a technology flourishes with great success.
  • Alternatively, a technological summer is a period of increased funding and interest in a technology.

Definition for a quantum summer

  • A quantum summer is a period when quantum computing flourishes with great success, presaged by a quantum spring and presaging a quantum fall.
  • Alternatively, a quantum summer is a period of increased funding and interest in quantum computing.

Definition for a technological spring

  • A technological spring is a period of birth or renewal, when a technology begins to flourish with success, typically presaging a technological summer, and likely or possibly presaged by a technological winter.
  • Alternatively, a technological spring is a period of increasing funding and interest in a technology, typically presaging a technological summer, and likely or possibly presaged by a technological winter.

Definition for a quantum spring

  • A quantum spring is a period of birth or renewal, when quantum computing begins to flourish with success, typically presaging a quantum summer, and likely or possibly presaged by a quantum winter.
  • Alternatively, a quantum spring is a period of increasing funding and interest in quantum computing, typically presaging a quantum summer, and likely or possibly presaged by a quantum winter.

Technological falls

The complement of a technological spring is a technological fall which is presaged by a technological summer and presages a technological winter.

Quantum falls

The complement of a quantum spring is a quantum fall which is presaged by a quantum summer and presages a quantum winter.

Definition for a technological fall

  • A technological fall is a period of gradual decline after a technological summer, when a technology peaks, loses its luster, and begins to decline, presaging a technological winter.
  • Alternatively, a technological fall is a period of decreasing funding and interest in a technology after a technological summer, presaging a technological winter.

Definition for a quantum fall

  • A quantum fall is a period of gradual decline after a quantum summer, when quantum computing peaks, loses its luster, and begins to decline, presaging a quantum winter.
  • Alternatively, a quantum fall is a period of decreasing funding and interest in quantum computing after a quantum summer, presaging a quantum winter.

A technological winter is not the end of a technology but simply the end of one cycle of growth of the technology

A technological winter will not signal that a technology is dead for the rest of time, but simply indicates that one growth cycle has run its course.

A Quantum Winter is not the end of quantum computing but simply the end of one cycle of growth of quantum computing

A Quantum Winter will not signal that quantum computing is dead for the rest of time, but simply indicates that one growth cycle for quantum computing has run its course.

A Quantum Winter is more of a pause or timeout than an ending

Just to reiterate the message from the preceding section, a Quantum Winter is not the end of the line for quantum computing, but a temporary pause or timeout, an opportunity to regroup and rethink approaches, before a new phase of growth, a quantum spring, a renewal, can begin anew.

Stages of a Quantum Winter

A Quantum Winter will proceed as a sequence of stages. The overall stages of a Quantum Winter include:

  1. How does it actually start, the first moment? Such as trigger events.
  2. What keeps it going? Lack of reasonable progress.
  3. How long might it last? Months, years, or…?
  4. What ends it? Such as trigger events of innovation or renewed flows of money.
  5. What’s next? Quantum Spring of the next stage of growth.

A Quantum Winter is largely psychological in nature

Sure, a Quantum Winter is based on issues with the technology, but it is the impact on human psychology that permits the technical issues to drive people into a Quantum Winter. So a Quantum Winter is largely psychological in nature.

  1. Disappointment.
  2. Disenchantment.
  3. Disillusionment.
  4. Despair.
  5. Depression.

Sentiment matters — positive sentiment is needed

Sentiment is a simple umbrella term for all aspects of the psychological nature of how people and organizations think and feel about a technology and its prospects. Generally, positive sentiment is needed to drive and sustain an endeavor.

  1. Positive.
  2. Neutral.
  3. Negative.
  1. Open-minded.
  2. Positive.
  3. Interested.
  4. Optimistic.
  5. Accepting.
  6. Committed.
  7. Buoyant.
  8. Enthusiastic.
  9. Energized.
  10. Ecstatic.
  11. Euphoric.
  1. Undecided.
  2. Neutral.
  3. Indifferent.
  4. Disinterested.
  5. Skeptical.
  6. Open-minded.
  7. Noncommittal.
  1. Skeptical.
  2. Pessimistic.
  3. Cynical.
  4. Opposed.
  5. Anxious.
  6. Disappointed.
  7. Disenchanted.
  8. Disillusioned.
  9. Depressed.

Onset — How does a Quantum Winter start?

A Quantum Winter will be preceded and presaged by a quantum fall, which is similar to a Quantum Winter except much milder — a modest to moderate slowdown in sentiment, interest, activity, and the flow of money.

  1. Trigger events. Just feels that something isn’t quite right. Bad events, or failure of good events to happen.
  2. Warning signs. Telltale advance signs that something bad is going to happen. People are just acting a bit odd and out of character.
  3. How it feels. A visceral sense that something is’t right and that bad things are beginning to happen.
  4. Consequences. The effects of trigger events.
  5. Appearance. What it looks like — and something just doesn’t look right.

What might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back?

There could be a wide range of trigger events for a Quantum Winter, such as:

  1. Some high-profile commitment to achieve some grand goal by some particular date — and then failing to achieve it. Such as heavy PR for a failed attempt at The ENIAC Moment.
  2. Bankruptcy or shutdown of a high-flying startup or corporate joint venture.
  3. Some high-flying startup fails to close a massive funding round.
  4. Failure of some large government-sponsored project.
  5. Qubit fidelity could be only so-so or actually okay, but transmon qubit fidelity may still be very weak. And trapped-ions may have great connectivity, but still mediocre qubit counts.
  6. Inability to achieve nontrivial quantum Fourier transform (QFT) or quantum phase estimation (QPE).

How might it get started?

Here’s one scenario (among many) for how a Quantum Winter could get started:

  1. Enough people have bought into the euphoria and gotten convinced to expect real results within six months.
  2. If a critical mass of people hit that six month milestone and are very disappointed in mediocre or even nonexistent results, that could trigger the beginning of the slide down the slippery slope to a Quantum Winter.
  3. Rinse and repeat.

A Quantum Winter is less than likely, but… risk is there and gradually growing

I honestly don’t expect that a Quantum Winter will actually occur two to three years from now, but I can’t completely discount it either. There is risk and it’s growing, albeit gradually. There are just too many yellow flags to ignore, both for hardware and algorithms and applications.

Yellow flags — Rising concerns about quantum computing

Some of the yellow flags I see that could contribute to a Quantum Winter:

  1. Despite dramatic advances, still not close to commercial readiness.
  2. Still a mere laboratory curiosity. Quantum computing is still at the stage of being a mere laboratory curiosity, not even close to being ready for development and deployment of production-scale practical real-world quantum applications.
  3. Still more appropriate for the lunatic fringe rather than mainstream developers.
  4. Irrational exuberance and hype. High and rising.
  5. Hype and expectations are growing faster than the technology itself.
  6. Technical concerns not being addressed rapidly enough.
  7. Lots of qubits, but not so usable.
  8. Technical risks are quite daunting.
  9. Key and essential technical hurdles don’t have clear and compelling roadmaps.
  10. Rush to premature commercialization.
  11. Too much money chasing two few real opportunities.
  12. Too many research questions remain outstanding.
  13. The technology just doesn’t feel ready for commercial use despite the advances.
  14. Dearth of 40-qubit algorithms.
  15. No sense of real and substantial quantum advantage.

Red flag: Hype and expectations are growing faster than the technology itself

I think my biggest concern relative to the risk of a Quantum Winter is the simple fact that the hype and expectations are growing faster than the technology itself. Granted, that could change at any moment if the pace of advance of the technology accelerates, but that’s not a slam dunk since the technology is very difficult, so the pace of advance has remained quite modest even if it nonetheless is quite impressive.

Still a mere laboratory curiosity

Quantum computing is still at the stage of being a mere laboratory curiosity, not even close to being ready for deployment of production-scale practical real-world quantum applications.

Still more appropriate for the lunatic fringe rather than mainstream application developers

The lunatic fringe are those super-elite technical staff who are capable and interested in working with a new technology regardless of whether the technology is ready for commercial deployment. Quantum computing is still at the stage where its primary appeal is to the lunatic fringe rather than to mainstream application developers.

How patient will investors and managers be if advances are not as rapid as expected?

Sure, the early, more adventurous investors and managers are likely to have a substantial level of strategic patience, but the vast majority of newcomers, late arrivals at the party, are not so likely to be so patient.

  1. Projects could get canceled.
  2. Budgets could be slashed.
  3. Hiring could be curtailed.
  4. Staff could be cut.
  5. Investment flows could dwindle.

Patience will be the key factor determining the onset of a quantum winter

Those with great patience will not be causing a Quantum Winter. Patient capital will prevail.

Chief characteristics of a technological winter

A Quantum Winter will have the same general characteristics as a winter for any technology or innovation.

  1. Disappointment with the technology. Lost some or all of its luster.
  2. Failure of the technology to deliver on its promises.
  3. Rising prospect or concern that the technology will fail to deliver on its promises in the future. The future no longer feels as bright or even bright at all.
  4. When predictions fail to materialize.
  5. Stagnation. Lack of palpable progress or technical advances. It needs to feel and look like the the technology is progressing at some reasonable pace.
  6. Over-investment and over-enthusiasm.
  7. Rising prospect that projects will fail to deliver on their promises.
  8. Expectations feel unfulfilled.
  9. Feeling a lack of progress. Or feeling of dramatically less progress than expectations,
  10. Diminished enthusiasm and excitement.
  11. Rising frustrations.
  12. Intense frustrations.
  13. Essential technical capabilities not achieved.
  14. Key technical milestones not achieved.
  15. Getting bogged down with technical speed bumps. Can see a path forward but unable to readily achieve it.
  16. Hitting technical walls. No clear path forward.
  17. Progress has halted. Any number of causes.
  18. Progress has dramatically diminished. Any number of causes.
  19. Progress is haphazard. Uneven and not meeting expectations.
  20. Fewer articles and papers published.
  21. Progress without results. Sense of at least some progress in terms of expenditure of effort and money but with a lack of palpable and visible results which deliver significant business value to the organization.
  22. Anxiety. General feeling that things could get worse. Feeling that things are beginning to fall apart.
  23. Despair and even depression. General feeling that things are not going to get better. Feeling that things are likely to get much worse.
  24. Curtailment of projects. Existing projects are limited or trimmed, or even canceled. New projects are not approved or funded, or receive dramatically less funding.
  25. Less money readily available.
  26. Curtailment of money flows. Less investment in startups. Limited or canceled budgets.
  27. Limitations on hiring. Due to curtailment of projects and money flows. Fewer open positions. Less easy to find work. Less easy to hop between companies.
  28. Trimming of research funding. Although generally research will be impacted less than commercial projects — unless things are really bad.
  29. General collapse of the field. Insufficient demand for so many vendors, customers, projects, staff, initiatives, office space, furnishings, equipment, budgeting, and investment.

What will it be like while it’s happening?

  1. All or most current hardware will still be operational. Some may get shut down.
  2. Less frequent advances.
  3. More inverse hype — disappointment and despair. The opposite of euphoria.
  4. Less money sloshing around. And less enthusiastically.
  5. Fewer job opportunities.
  6. Fewer new projects.
  7. Fewer new startups.

Telltale advance signs that a technological winter may be brewing

All of these telltale signs of a possible impending technological winter are generic and apply to all technologies, but certainly to quantum computing in particular:

  1. Rampant hype.
  2. Over-inflated promises.
  3. Unnaturally high expectations.
  4. Excessive hype coupled with nonexistent practical solutions.
  5. Excessive promotion by the media.
  6. Enthusiasm and optimism for the technology has spiraled out of control.
  7. Irrational exuberance and hype. High and rising, faster and faster.
  8. Enthusiasm for the promise of the technology has spiraled out of control. Even before the technology is actually available.
  9. Rate of progress is failing to meet expectations.
  10. Despite dramatic advances, still not close to commercial readiness.
  11. Technical concerns not being addressed rapidly enough.
  12. Technical risks are quite daunting.
  13. Key and essential technical hurdles don’t have clear and compelling roadmaps.
  14. Rush to premature commercialization.
  15. Too much money chasing two few real opportunities.
  16. Too many research questions remain outstanding.
  17. The technology just doesn’t feel ready for commercial use despite the advances.

So far, so good, but…

Quantum computing has made a lot of excellent technical progress over the past few years, but it has been uneven and with gaps, limitations, and issues.

Some telltale technical signs indicating rising risk of disappointment in quantum computing

There are lots of telltale warning signs in quantum computing already, now.

  1. No 40-qubit algorithms. No algorithms approaching production-scale that can be run on simulators even if real quantum hardware is not yet available.
  2. Quantum volume stuck below 16M (24 qubits). Not even close to 16 bits or 20 bits.
  3. Few 24-qubit algorithms. Currently none. Max at 21 to 23 qubits.
  4. Mediocre qubit fidelity. Low qubit fidelity. Qubit fidelity stuck below 3.5 nines (99.95).
  5. Quantum error correction (QEC) is a distant future. The promised land of perfect logical qubits, but not in the near future. Too far in the future for most people to relate to it.
  6. Near-perfect qubits are still too far in the future. A fair chance that we will see them in two to three years, but a risk that we won’t see them until it’s too late to prevent confidence from falling off a cliff into a Quantum Winter. But, if we see them within a year to 18 months, a Quantum Winter can be averted, assuming other factors are also addressed in an equally timely manner.
  7. Weak connectivity for transmon qubits. Stuck with nearest neighbor connectivity. Although trapped-ion qubits have full any to any connectivity.
  8. Lack of fine granularity of phase and probability amplitude. Needed to enable quantum Fourier transform (QFT) and quantum phase estimation (QPE) for nontrivial use cases, especially for quantum computational chemistry.
  9. No common use of quantum Fourier transform (QFT) or quantum phase estimation (QPE) for nontrivial use cases. Nothing using 16 or 20 or 24 or 28 or 32 or 40 bits, let alone 64 or 80 or 96 bits.
  10. No significant quantum advantage. Not even minimal quantum advantage (1,000X classical solutions), let alone substantial quantum advantage (1,000,000X), and definitely not close to dramatic quantum advantage (one quadrillion X.)
  11. No sense that The ENIAC moment is coming any time soon. Nothing even remotely close to a production-scale application.
  12. No rich set of algorithmic building blocks. Makes it very difficult to construct large, complex, and more sophisticated algorithms.
  13. No high-level programming model. Extremely low-level programming model. How far can we get with the current low-level programming model? Or as I used to say back in the 1970’s, how much can you expect people to do with bear skins and stone knives.
  14. General lack of scalable quantum algorithms. Doesn’t seem to be a priority.
  15. No quantum applications yet. A great promise for the future, but not realized in any way yet.
  16. Mediocre and limited simulators. Classical simulation of quantum circuits is a very powerful tool. We could be doing much better, especially performance, capacity, and debugging and analysis tools.
  17. Weak debugging capabilities and analysis tools. We are getting by since our algorithms are currently quite small and simple. Much larger, complex, and more sophisticated algorithms will require dramatically greater debugging and analysis tools.
  18. Disappointment with IBM 127-qubit Eagle. Plenty of qubits, but only a quantum volume of 64. Mediocre qubit fidelity. Weak qubit connectivity.
  19. Low confidence in the IBM 433-qubit Osprey due later this year. The disappointment in Eagle makes it difficult to have much confidence in Osprey. This is exactly the kind of falling confidence that can bring on or accelerate a Quantum Winter.
  20. Rigetti just introduced 40 and 80-qubit processors, but with similar limitations as IBM Eagle. Four years ago they promised 128 qubits within a year.
  21. IonQ is making sluggish and haphazard progress. Not clear when they will have a production-scale machine, capable of production-scale 40 to 80-qubit algorithms and applications.
  22. Honeywell (now Quantinuum) made a big splash but with too few qubits. They did promise to improve quantum volume by an order of magnitude each year, but that’s only an average of 3.25 additional qubits each year (log2(10) = 3.32) — with 12 qubits now, that would be 18 to 20 qubits in two years and maybe 22 qubits in three years, which is not so inspiring of the great confidence which will be needed to avoid a Quantum Winter.
  23. Still too many new papers with algorithms using only five to eight qubits. Where are the 40-qubit algorithms — which can be simulated even if high-fidelity real quantum hardware is not yet available?

Non-technical warning signs for quantum computing

  1. Excessive hype coupled with nonexistent practical solutions.
  2. Plenty of decent advances in recent years, but the pace of growth of hype and expectations exceed the pace of technical advances.
  3. Over-investment and over-enthusiasm. Feels like we might be on the cusp of that over the next 18 months.

Rising deficit of promises not yet fulfilled

A major concern with quantum computing is that so many promises are being made but so few of them have come to fruition and success, so far. Each of these promises is a liability or deficit, which if not paid in the not too distant future will contribute to sending quantum computing into a Quantum Winter. The deficit is rising rapidly, with no end in sight.

Where are all of the 40-qubit algorithms?

It is very telling that there is a dearth of 40-qubit algorithms at this time. Sure, we currently lack real quantum hardware capable of supporting 40-qubit algorithms with high fidelity, but we do have classical simulators which can, so there isn’t a lot of great excuse for there being virtually nothing in terms of algorithms approaching at least a fraction of production-scale that can be run on simulators even if real quantum hardware is not yet available.

My disappointment with the IBM 127-qubit Eagle

As already mentioned, I’m rather disappointed with the IBM 127-qubit Eagle quantum processor. It’s brand new (November 2021), so it should be the best anybody can do, but it’s rather disappointing. It has plenty of qubits, but only a quantum volume of 64 — only six qubits can be used at a time for a high-fidelity quantum computation. It has mediocre qubit fidelity and weak qubit connectivity. And no hint of a specification of what granularity of phase and probability amplitude it supports.

Attention quantum aficionados at large corporations — make sure your management and executive teams are well aware of these risks

  1. Best defense from getting slammed by a Quantum Winter is to be preemptive.
  2. Best if management hears this from you first. The best defense is a strong offense. Once you’re on the defensive, you lose.
  3. Lower expectations. Try really hard to set lower expectations and focus on research, prototyping, and experimentation — pre-commercialization — rather than prematurely pushing for commercialization.

Stagnation? Not so far

One telltale sign of a technological winter is stagnation — the lack of progress or technical advances, but so far, quantum computing is making a reasonable sense of progress, with only very brief periods of calm and waiting.

Will achieving The ENIAC Moment be critical to avoiding a Quantum Winter?

The ENIAC Moment will be the first time that a production-scale practical real-world quantum application can be demonstrated on a real quantum computer. Whether that breakthrough milestone can be achieved in two to three years remains to be seen. It’s very possible, even possibly likely, but not a slam-dunk certainty. The question here is whether achieving that milestone is mandatory to avoiding a Quantum Winter.

Really need to hit The ENIAC Moment before people can finally feel that quantum computing is real and not a vague and distant promised land

Although I wouldn’t say that achieving The ENIAC Moment is absolutely essential for avoiding a Quantum Winter in two to three years, I would say that it is critically urgent and we really do need to achieve it as soon as possible. If not in two to three years, then certainly within three to four years.

Is quantum error correction (QEC) needed to avert a Quantum Winter?

Perfect logical qubits are essential for the long-term health and viability of quantum computing, but my conjecture is that most quantum algorithms and quantum applications will be able to get by with near-perfect qubits at least for the next few years rather than require perfect logical quits which require full, automatic, and transparent quantum error correction (QEC).

If we don’t have quantum error correction, then we do need near-perfect qubits to avoid a deep Quantum Winter

Just to reemphasize something buried in the preceding section, a lack of quantum error correction and a lack of near-perfect qubits would probably be sufficient to send us spiraling into a deep Quantum Winter. We would need qubit fidelity of at least three nines or possibly 3.5 nines to avoid a Quantum Winter.

Will lack of higher qubit fidelity and enhanced qubit connectivity in IBM’s 433-qubit Osprey be enough to trigger a Quantum Winter?

Regardless of whether Osprey supports quantum error correction (QEC) and perfect logical qubits, the pressure is on for IBM to deliver higher qubit fidelity and greater qubit connectivity than they have for the 27-qubit Falcon and the 127-qubit Eagle quantum processors. Failure of IBM alone to deliver such advances may not be sufficient to trigger a deep Quantum Winter, but it is still possible, depending on whatever else is going on. It might just trigger a shift from transmon qubits to trapped-ion or neutral-atom qubits and send transmon qubits alone into their own special Quantum Winter.

What will Osprey deliver?

Right now, the promised IBM 433-qubt Osprey quantum processor is the biggest anticipated technical advance over the next year. The big question is whether it will be a relatively minor incremental advance or a major quantum leap.

  1. Qubit fidelity. Will it be high enough?
  2. Qubit connectivity. Will it be great enough?
  3. Fine granularity of phase and probability amplitude. How large a quantum Fourier transform (QFT) or quantum phase estimation (QPE) will be supported?

How far can we get without a high-level programming model and rich set of algorithmic building blocks?

The current programming model for quantum computing is rather low level, more like a classical assembly language or machine language than a modern high-level language. Similarly, we lack a rich set of high-level algorithmic building blocks for constructing complex and sophisticated quantum algorithms and quantum applications. Will it be enough to get us to where we need to be in two to three years to be on track to developing production-scale practical real-world quantum applications?

Current technology has plenty of runway to avoid a Quantum Winter

Although there are plenty of technical concerns, we still have plenty of time and plenty of technical opportunities (plenty of runway) sufficient to overcome the concerns over the next two to three years.

Advances we need to see over the next two years to stay on track

In a previous informal paper I enumerated the many advances that we need to see in quantum computing over the next two years or so to stay on track — for people to feel that we’re making great or at least decent progress towards making the design, development, and deployment of production-scale practical real-world quantum applications a reality not too many years after that. Failure to achieve some sort of critical mass of those advances would put us at risk of falling into a Quantum Winter.

Yes, we can indeed count on further progress, but will it be enough to keep us on track and to sustain momentum?

I just don’t know the answer here, yet. Yes, it’s a slam dunk that we will see a lot of amazing progress over the next two to three years, but will it be enough to get close to supporting production-scale practical real-world applications on real quantum hardware, especially in the face of excessive hype and unreasonable and irrational expectations?

Sustaining momentum is everything — a slip in momentum can trigger a Quantum Winter

I can’t overestimate how important maintaining momentum will be over the next two to three years. We could get by with mediocre and spotty momentum over the past three to five to ten years since there was only minimal hype, minimal expectations, and minimal investment flows to deal with. But now, and accelerating over the next two to three years, we will face monumental rising hype and irrational expectations coupled with monumental capital investment flows, including corporate budgets, so that even relatively minor slips in momentum could present significant risk to damaging confidence in momentum, dramatically raising the risk of sliding into a Quantum Winter.

Will there be a quantum winter? Or even more than one?

Technological progress is really hard to predict. Sometimes progress is rapid, sometimes not so much. Sometimes there’s a long period of progress, and sometimes long periods of seeming lack of progress.

  1. Near-perfect qubits. High enough qubit fidelity — low enough error rate — that many applications don’t even need quantum error correction (QEC). And that also enables efficient quantum error correction.
  2. Sufficient qubit fidelity to support efficient quantum error correction (QEC).
  3. Achieving quantum error correction efficiently and accurately — even for a relatively small number of qubits.
  4. Achieving enough physical qubits to achieve a sufficient capacity of logical qubits through quantum error correction.
  5. Achieving sufficiently fine granularity of quantum phase and probability amplitude to enable quantum Fourier transform (QFT) and quantum phase estimation (QPE) for a reasonably large number of qubits sufficient to enable quantum computational chemistry.
  6. Conceptualizing — and developing — a diverse and robust library of high-level algorithmic building blocks sufficient to enable complex and sophisticated quantum algorithms and applications.
  7. Achieving The ENIAC Moment for even a single production-scale application.
  8. Achieving The ENIAC Moment for multiple production-scale applications.
  9. Conceptualizing — and developing — sufficiently high-level programming models to make quantum algorithm design practical for non-elite teams.
  10. Conceptualizing — and developing — high-level quantum-native programming languages to support the high-level programming models using high-level algorithmic building blocks to make it easier for non-elite teams to design quantum algorithms and develop production-scale quantum applications.
  11. Achieving The FORTRAN Moment for a single production-scale application.
  12. Achieving The FORTRAN Moment for multiple production-scale applications.
  13. Opening the floodgates for exploiting The FORTRAN Moment for widespread production-scale applications.

But occasional Quantum Springs and Quantum Summers

Even if we do indeed see one or more Quantum Winters, it’s just as likely that we will also see Quantum Springs and Quantum Summers as well, where despair turns around into hope and even euphoria.

Quantum Falls?

Uhhh… yeah, the downside of a Quantum Summer is a quantum fall setting us up for a Quantum Winter.

In truth, it will be a very long and very slow slog

In truth, quantum computing is actually advancing at a relatively slow pace — it’s the hype that is zooming ahead, breaking all speed records.

No predicting the precise flow of progress, with advances and setbacks

Sure, everybody wants a schedule, a timeframe, and a detailed road map indicating when each milestone will be reached, but that just isn’t possible. Oh, sure, you can actually do that, but it will be obsolete before the ink is dry.

Is a Quantum Winter likely in two to three years? No, but…

I do think that enough progress is being made on most fronts of quantum computing to achieve many, most — a critical mass, if not all of the advances needed over the next two years enumerated in the paper cited below and in a preceding section. If all of this transpires, then a so-called Quantum Winter is rather unlikely in two years.

  1. Critical technical metrics not achieved. Such as low qubit fidelity and connectivity, or still no 32 to 40-qubit algorithms.
  2. Quantum Winter alert. Early warning signs. Beyond the technical metrics. Such as projects seeing their budgets and hiring frozen.
  3. Quantum Winter warning. Serious warning signs. Failure of some high-profile projects.
  4. Quantum Winter. Difficulty getting funding for many projects. Funding and staffing cuts. Slow pace of announced breakthroughs.
  5. Severe Quantum Winter. Getting even worse. Onset of psychological depression. People leaving projects. People switching careers. Conferences being canceled.

Critical technical gating factors which could presage a Quantum Winter in two to three years

Some of the most critical technical gating factors which could send the sector spiraling down into a Quantum Winter in two to three years include:

  1. Lack of near-perfect qubits.
  2. Still only nearest-neighbor connectivity for transmon qubits. Transmon qubits haven’t adapted architecturally.
  3. Lack of reasonably fine granularity of phase. Needed for quantum Fourier transform (QFT) and quantum phase estimation (QPE) to enable quantum advantage, such as for quantum computational chemistry in particular.
  4. Less than 32 qubits on trapped-ion machines.
  5. Dearth of 32 to 40-qubit algorithms.
  6. Failure to achieve even minimal quantum advantage.
  7. Rampant and restrictive IP (intellectual property) impeding progress. Intellectual property (especially patents) can either help or hinder adoption of quantum computing.

Some technical walls could get hit

A lot of technical obstacles turn out to be mere speed bumps — minor inconveniences and quickly left behind and forgotten, but some turn out to be hard walls, at least in the near term it might seem that way. Some examples:

  1. Qubit fidelity.
  2. Qubit connectivity.
  3. Coherence time.
  4. Granularity of phase and probability amplitude.
  5. Limits to quantum Fourier transform (QFT) and quantum phase estimation (QPE) precision.

Will trapped-ion qubits and neutral-atom qubits save the day?

Transmon qubits are having difficulty with low qubit fidelity and weak qubit connectivity. These may prove to be barriers to commercial success. But trapped-ion and neutral-atom qubits might be able to save the day since they have :

  1. Generally higher qubit fidelity.
  2. Full any to any qubit connectivity.

Will new and innovative qubit technologies appear on the scene and save the day?

It’s definitely not outside the realm of possibility to anticipate that a variety of new and innovative qubit technologies might appear in research laboratories over the next two to three years which could change everything. But that’s not a slam dunk or even a remote certainty. Still, one can always hope, and the prospect is quite plausible.

Premature commercialization is probably the single biggest risk for stumbling into a Quantum Winter

I hate to have to say it, but quantum computing technology simply isn’t ready for prime time — it’s not ready for development and deployment of production-scale quantum algorithms and quantum applications. A premature effort to attempt to develop and deploy algorithms and applications with quantum computing technology in its current state is the single best recipe for driving ourselves into a deep Quantum Winter.

  1. Model for Pre-commercialization Required Before Quantum Computing Is Ready for Commercialization
  2. https://jackkrupansky.medium.com/model-for-pre-commercialization-required-before-quantum-computing-is-ready-for-commercialization-689651c7398a

Might we simply sleepwalk into a Quantum Winter?

We may indeed simply sleepwalk into a Quantum Winter, not intentionally, but somewhat negligently, not being consciously aware and mindful of the growing gap between expectations (and hype) and reality.

Different audiences and sectors will experience a Quantum Winter differently or maybe even not at all

Not everybody will experience a Quantum Winter the same exact way. In fact, some may not experience it at all. Or, maybe, only some experience the full brunt of the Quantum Winter but most people don’t.

Risk of Quantum Winter is primarily for those engaged in premature commercialization — those involved with research and pre-commercialization should be fine

Those involved in research, prototyping, and experimentation — what I call pre-commercialization — and running on minimal budgets — should feel relatively safe and secure from any effects of a Quantum Winter.

Quantum Ready — All dressed up and no place to go

Two to three years from now hundreds or even thousands of organizations with tens or even hundreds of thousands of technical staff will be officially Quantum Ready, but without the hardware, simulators, or rich enough programming models to be even remotely close to being ready to develop production-scale practical real-world quantum applications.

We’re still in the full-on bliss of the honeymoon, but for how long?

So much of the technology of quantum computing is very new, fresh, and exciting, even intoxicating, but for how long will this honeymoon period last?

Saving grace: Nobody is calling quantum a mania or a bubble, yet

There is one significant saving grace: so far, nobody is calling quantum a mania or bubble, at least not yet. But let’s check back in a year.

What will assure that we can avoid this impending Quantum Winter?

There can be no absolute assurance of averting this impending Quantum Winter in two to three years, especially since human behavior and psychology are major factors, but at least from a technical perspective a Quantum Winter can be avoided two to three years from now if we can achieve…

  1. The ENIAC Moment. A production-scale practical real-world quantum application can be demonstrated.
  2. Minimal quantum advantage is achieved. At least 1,000X a classical solution.
  3. Four nines of qubit fidelity. 99.99% reliability of two-qubit quantum logic gates and measurements.
  4. Full any to any qubit connectivity.
  5. At least one million gradations of phase and probability amplitude. If not a billion.
  6. Quantum Fourier transform (QFT) and quantum phase estimation (QPE) for at least 20 if not 30 qubits.
  7. Circuit depth of 2048 gates. Or is that still too low?
  8. 48 to 64 qubits with all of these qualities.

Even minimal quantum advantage may remain out of reach in two to three years, but achieving it could avert a Quantum Winter

Dramatic quantum advantage is the holy grail of quantum computing — performance far beyond that of a classical computer, but it remains elusive and is presently out of reach and unlikely to be within reach within two to three years. Unlikely, but not totally out of the question.

Single best way to avoid a Quantum Winter: Hold off on commercialization but double down on pre-commercialization

Premature commercialization may be the single largest factor which might cause the onset of a Quantum Winter, so the single best way to avoid the onset of a Quantum Winter is to hold off on premature commercialization while we focus all attention on much-needed research, prototyping, and experimentation, all of which are very needed as a predicate for eventual commercialization. I call this pre-commercialization, the work which must be completed before we even start thinking about actual commercialization.

Focus on research

A renewed focus on research will both enhance the quality of quantum computing technology, and take attention away from premature commercialization.

Wildcards

There are any number of advances which could completely turn the tide and render a Quantum Winter much less likely, including:

  1. New qubit technologies. Possibly with qualities not yet imagined.
  2. New transmon architectures. Like some sort of dynamic bus for quantum state.
  3. Dramatic improvements in trapped-ion qubits. And architectures.
  4. Neutral atoms could address all of the concerns. Currently a great unknown, just great promises.
  5. Distributed quantum computing and quantum networking. Computing with distributed quantum state could change everything.

What single advance within three years could turn the tide?

A dramatic improvement in fine-grained qubit phase and probability amplitude could have the largest impact on whether quantum computing slides into a deep Quantum Winter in two to three years.

Configurable packaged quantum solutions are the greatest opportunity for widespread adoption of quantum computing

Although this might not be strictly required to avoid a Quantum Winter in two to three years, an interest and focus on configurable packaged quantum solutions might go a long way towards building positive excitement and enthusiasm, and focus on the critical technical deficits which need the most research attention, going a long way towards eliminating many of the technical deficits that might otherwise send quantum computing down into a Quantum Winter.

Roadmaps would help avoid disappointment — if they are informative and reasonably accurate

Not all hardware (or software) vendors publish roadmaps and milestones for their products. Even when they do, the level of detail and accuracy can vary greatly.

My personal disappointments

This is a short list of the my own top priorities for advances which are holding quantum computing back and could lead to a Quantum Winter if not reasonably addressed over the next two to three years:

  1. Qubit fidelity. Not clearly stating qubit fidelity as top priority.
  2. Near-perfect qubits. Not focusing on the need for near-perfect qubits.
  3. Qubit connectivity. Not focusing on weak qubit connectivity of transmon qubits.
  4. Quantum Fourier transform (QFT) and quantum phase estimation (QPE). Not focusing on quantum Fourier transform (QFT) and quantum phase estimation (QPE) and their need for fine-grained phase and probability amplitude.
  5. Disappointment with IBM 127-qubit Eagle. Plenty of qubits, but only a quantum volume of 64. Mediocre qubit fidelity. Weak qubit connectivity. Hardly better than the 27-qubit Falcon.
  6. Weak documentation and specifications. General lack of detail and precision.
  7. Lack of a high-level programming model.
  8. Lack of a rich collection of high-level algorithmic building blocks.
  9. Not pushing and enhancing simulators strongly enough. Need for performance, capacity, configuration, and debugging, testing, and analysis tools.
  10. General lack of scalable quantum algorithms. Doesn’t seem to be a priority.
  11. Premature commercialization. Far too much “drinking the Kool-Aid” and engaging in premature commercialization.
  12. Research. Not enough focus on research.
  13. Pre-commercialization. Need to shift away from commercialization, back to pre-commercialization, with emphasis on research, prototyping, and experimentation.
  14. Much research remains to be done. Research is beginning to suffer as too many people focus on commercialization.
  15. No quantum applications yet. A great promise for the future, but not realized in any way yet.
  16. Configurable packaged quantum solutions. Best focus for implementing general-purpose quantum applications. Would focus attention on areas needing research, address the major technical deficits, and help build positive excitement and enthusiasm which could avoid a Quantum Winter.

No quantum applications yet — a great unrealized promise

We have plenty of fragments of quantum algorithms floating around, published in plenty of academic papers, but essentially no realization of the great promise of a future filled with all manner of quantum applications.

General lack of scalable quantum algorithms and applications — they don’t seem to be a priority

Quantum algorithms and quantum applications need to be scalable. For a variety of reasons. But, commonly, they’re not. It doesn’t seem to be a priority for most people and most organizations.

Will Shor’s factoring algorithm be able to factor even 8 to 12-bit semiprime integers?

Although no one expects that Shor’s factoring algorithm will be able to factor any large semiprime integers in two to three years (say 1024 or 512 or 256 or even 64 bit integers), it would still be rather disheartening if we can’t factor even 8 to 12-bit semiprime integers two to three years from now. Factoring semiprime integers won’t be a high priority during this period, but it will be yet another factor that will work to undermine confidence in the near-term power of quantum computing. It probably wouldn’t be enough to trigger a Quantum Winter by itself, but it could be a significant factor if the quantum hype continues to focus excessive attention on the power and promise of Shor’s algorithm.

  • Need for higher qubit fidelity.
  • Need for greater qubit connectivity.
  • Need for finer granularity of phase and probability amplitude.
  • Need for quantum Fourier transform (QFT) and quantum phase estimation (QPE).
  • Need for greater circuit depth. Need for greater coherence time and/or faster gate execution time.

When might a Quantum Winter start?

Trying to precisely estimate the exact date for the onset of a Quantum Winter is a fool’s errand, but we can assess some likelihoods:

  1. Six months. Nope.
  2. One year. Very unlikely.
  3. 18 months. Unlikely. But it is possible.
  4. Two years. Possible.
  5. Two and a half years. Very possible.
  6. Three years. Very possible.
  7. Four years. Possible.
  8. Five years or longer. Possible.
  9. Seven years or longer. Possibly a second Quantum Winter.

How long might a Quantum Winter last?

A Quantum Winter will last until some trigger event that ends it (see the next section). The duration of a Quantum Winter could range from:

  1. A few months.
  2. Six months.
  3. Less than a year.
  4. One year. Possibly. Likely longer.
  5. 18 months. Possibly.
  6. Two years. Maybe more likely.
  7. Two and a half years. Maybe more likely.
  8. Three years. Maybe more likely.
  9. Four to five years. Less likely. Shouldn’t be that long.
  10. Five to seven years.
  11. Seven to ten years.
  12. Even longer, maybe.

It takes a protracted period of time to restore confidence

Just to emphasize this point more strongly, once confidence has been undermined and broken, which can happen quickly, it can take a lot longer to restore confidence — even once the technical factors have actually been addressed.

What ends a Quantum Winter?

A Quantum Winter continues indefinitely until one or more trigger events, which can include:

  1. A basic advance. Something simple but essential.
  2. A technological breakthrough innovation. Something really dramatic.
  3. Availability of funding.
  4. Appearance of a problem which requires the technology for its solution.
  5. Entry of new persons with fresh new motivation and fresh ideas.

Innovation to end a Quantum Winter

The mere existence of an innovation won’t necessarily immediately end a Quantum Winter. It may have to move through stages, a process:

  1. The innovation is conceptualized. The idea.
  2. The innovation is realized. Implementation.
  3. Prototyping with the innovation.
  4. Experimentation with the innovation.
  5. Decision to adopt the innovation.
  6. Process of adopting the innovation.
  7. Promotion of the innovation.
  8. Acceptance of the innovation.
  9. Practical adoption of the innovation.
  10. Gradual reacceleration of investment, budgets, projects, and products based on the innovation.

Why haven’t we seen a Quantum Winter yet even though past progress over the past 25 years was frequently quite slow?

It’s not the raw rate of actual progress which triggers a Quantum Winter, but excessive hype and irrational expectations relative to reality.

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.

  • Risk Is Rising for a Quantum Winter for Quantum Computing in Two to Three Years. Be prepared for a possible Quantum Winter in 2–3 years as promised and expected technology just isn’t ready yet or as capable and easy to use as expected. Many organizations will have invested significant resources with an expectation of getting a dramatic return on their investment by then. Investors, executives and managers may begin losing patience, especially as planners are unable to project how many more years and additional resources before the technology really is ready for production-scale deployment.

Summary and conclusions

  1. Quantum Winter is unlikely.
  2. Quantum Winter is not imminent in the coming months or year.
  3. A Quantum Winter is unlikely in two to three years based on my personal expectations for progress, but… I’m an optimist, but… I’m also a pragmatic realist and the risks are rising.
  4. But quantum winter is a very real risk two to three years out.
  5. Risk seems to be increasing. Rising concerns. As hype and expectations rise faster than reality.
  6. The tsunami is building slowly — but surely. Fueled by the raw energy of the massive hype and exaggerated and unrealistic expectations. Or large expectations which may be met, but might not be fully met. Maybe progress will be deep enough in two years that the energy of the tsunami will be distributed widely and not in some great wave that triggers a deep Quantum Winter which wipes out the field for many months or even years.
  7. Patience will be the key factor determining the onset of a quantum winter. Those with great patience will not be causing a Quantum Winter. Patient capital will prevail.
  8. A Quantum Winter is largely psychological in nature. Sure, it’s based on issues with the technology, but it is the impact on human psychology that permits the technical issues to drive people into a Quantum Winter.
  9. Sentiment matters — positive sentiment is needed.
  10. Next year should be fairly clear sailing.
  11. Maybe some hint of rising risk in 15 to 18 months or so.
  12. If we do see a Quantum Winter it will be after we spend two years to presumably get to being on track for production-scale quantum applications, and then one year for disappointment and disenchantment to unfold into deep depression if it turns out that we are not on track after two years from now.
  13. Palpable sense that all is not okay in two years.
  14. Either progress accelerates in second year — and third year — or feeling of impending quantum winter takes root and takes off.
  15. If a quantum winter does take root, figure two to five years before subsequent Quantum Spring.
  16. Quantum computing is still at the stage of being a mere laboratory curiosity, not even close to being ready for development and deployment of production-scale practical real-world quantum applications.
  17. Still more appropriate for the lunatic fringe rather than mainstream application developers.
  18. Single biggest risk for triggering a Quantum Winter is premature commercialization.
  19. People are starting to drink way too much of the marketing Kool-Aid. The elixir of impending commercialization is beginning to take root. And people are reluctant to commit to the hard work and slow slog of pre-commercialization.
  20. Single best way to cause a Quantum Winter is to pursue premature commercialization before the technology actually is ready to develop and deploy production-scale practical real-world quantum applications.
  21. Single best way to avoid a Quantum Winter is to avoid premature commercialization and double down on per-commercialization instead, particularly research, as well as prototyping and experimentation.
  22. Everything we can do to get people much more focused on research, prototyping, and experimentation rather than commercialization will help to avoid falling into a deep Quantum Winter caused by premature commercialization.
  23. Many or most advanced technologies inevitably experience seasonal cycles of some sort, with one or even more technological winters, so it may be unrealistic to expect that quantum computing won’t have its own share of seasonal cycles.

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Freelance Consultant

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