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

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

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

Definition for technological winter

Definition for Quantum Winter

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

Quantum winters, springs, summers, and falls

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

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

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

Definition for a technological summer

Definition for a quantum summer

Definition for a technological spring

Definition for a quantum spring

Technological falls

Quantum falls

Definition for a technological fall

Definition for a quantum fall

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

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 is more of a pause or timeout than an ending

Stages of a Quantum Winter

A Quantum Winter is largely psychological in nature

Sentiment matters — positive sentiment is needed

Onset — How does a Quantum Winter start?

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

How might it get started?

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

Yellow flags — Rising concerns about quantum computing

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

Still a mere laboratory curiosity

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

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

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

Chief characteristics of a technological winter

What will it be like while it’s happening?

Telltale advance signs that a technological winter may be brewing

So far, so good, but…

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

Non-technical warning signs for quantum computing

Rising deficit of promises not yet fulfilled

Where are all of the 40-qubit algorithms?

My disappointment with the IBM 127-qubit Eagle

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

Stagnation? Not so far

Will achieving The ENIAC Moment be critical 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

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

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

What will Osprey deliver?

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

Current technology has plenty of runway to avoid a Quantum Winter

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

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

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

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

But occasional Quantum Springs and Quantum Summers

Quantum Falls?

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

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

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

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

Some technical walls could get hit

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

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

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

Might we simply sleepwalk into a Quantum Winter?

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

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

Quantum Ready — All dressed up and no place to go

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

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

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

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

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

Focus on research


What single advance within three years could turn the tide?

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

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

My personal disappointments

No quantum applications yet — a great unrealized promise

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

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

When might a Quantum Winter start?

How long might a Quantum Winter last?

It takes a protracted period of time to restore confidence

What ends a Quantum Winter?

Innovation to end a Quantum Winter

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

My original proposal for this topic

Summary and conclusions



Freelance Consultant

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