Quantum computing is one of the transformative technological trends that promises to change the world by quickly and efficiently solving impossible problems

Quantum computing the new milestone that will shake up the course of human history

REUTERS/KACPER PEMPEL - La computación cuántica es una de las tendencias tecnológicas transformadoras que promete cambiar el mundo
photo_camera REUTERS/KACPER PEMPEL - Quantum computing is one of the transformative technology trends that promises to change the world

The transformative technology of quantum computing, though still in its infancy, is one of the scientific trends that will change the course of technology worldwide, kicking off a race that is attracting the world's corporate and national giants.  

First emerging in the early 1980s, quantum computing is one of the transformative technology trends that promises to change the world by quickly and efficiently solving impossible problems. It is an emerging technology that uses the laws of quantum physics to process information differently from conventional computing. 

AFP/ALEXANDER KAZAKOV - El presidente de Rusia, Vladimir Putin (C), escucha explicaciones mientras visita una exposición de desarrollos avanzados en el campo de las tecnologías cuánticas de la corporación estatal Rosatom y Russian Railways durante el Foro de Tecnologías Futuras en Moscú en julio 13 de septiembre de 2023
AFP/ALEXANDER KAZAKOV - Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) listens to explanations as he visits an exhibition of advanced developments in the field of quantum technologies by state corporation Rosatom and Russian Railways during the Future Technologies Forum in Moscow on July 13 September 2023

Quantum computing or quantum computing relies on quantum mechanics to solve complex computational problems before the so-called "quantum leap" that humankind is initiating. Quantum computers, in effect, use the quantum properties of elementary particles such as atoms, electrons or photons with quantum cubits or bits, as a new form of information coding in computing. A foundation for quantum computers that will make them thousands of times superior to classical computers. 

In January 2019, IBM launched the first IBM Q System One quantum computing system, an unprecedented innovation in the world of computing. Google also announced that it had achieved "quantum supremacy" thanks to its Sycamore quantum processor, which can perform in 200 seconds a specific task that would take the world's best supercomputers 10,000 years. 

AFP/MANDEL NGAN - El presidente de Estados Unidos, Joe Biden, recorre las instalaciones de IBM en Poughkeepsie, Nueva York, el 6 de octubre de 2022. IBM, anunció una inversión de 20.000 millones de dólares en computación cuántica, fabricación de semiconductores y otras tecnologías de alta tecnología
AFP/MANDEL NGAN - US President Joe Biden tours the IBM facility in Poughkeepsie, New York, on October 6, 2022. IBM, announced a $20 billion investment in quantum computing, semiconductor manufacturing and other high-tech technologies

Two years after marking the dawn of the quantum system that converted the unit of information "bit" (a value of 1 or 0) into a cubit (quantum bit with a value of 1 and 0 at the same time), unveiling a 127-cubit processor in November 2021 broke all records, for the first time surpassing 100 cubits. 

Although the technology is still in its infancy, there is no denying that it has great potential in areas such as artificial intelligence, quantum chemistry, finance, cryptography, cybersecurity and logistics.  

Quantum computing is distinguished by higher computing power, larger memory capacity and lower energy consumption, thus opening the way to a new level of processing that ensures the best possible simulation at a much higher speed than traditional computing.

PHOTO/CONNIE ZHOU/IBM vía REUTERS - Una representación por computadora muestra el procesador cuántico Osprey de 433 qubits de IBM, con más de tres veces los qubits del procesador IBM Eagle presentado en 2021
PHOTO/CONNIE ZHOU/IBM via REUTERS - A computer rendering shows IBM's 433-qubit Osprey quantum processor, with more than three times the qubits of the IBM Eagle processor unveiled in 2021

However, the main drawback of quantum computing is that it is very sensitive to noise, temperature and light, which can contaminate its environment and thus spoil this information, producing errors that require correction to get the desired result. Unlike classical computing, when creating algorithms, it is necessary for quantum computing to write new algorithms for each calculation. Another disadvantage of quantum computing is that it can only operate at a very low temperature of -240 °C, which is very difficult to maintain.

It should be noted that, despite these obstacles, quantum computing is now considered one of the most competitive sectors in the world. Because the country with well-functioning quantum computing will, according to experts in the domain, have the ability to better predict, to better simulate, to analyse more data and scenarios, in order to come up with, for example, a new drug, to foresee a natural disaster or an unexpected financial crisis.

REUTERS/STEPHEN LAM - Una computadora cuántica D-Wave 2X en el Laboratorio de Inteligencia Artificial Cuántica (QuAIL) en el Centro de Investigación Ames de la NASA en Mountain View, California
REUTERS/STEPHEN LAM - A D-Wave 2X quantum computer at the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (QuAIL) at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California

If we look at the world map of quantum computing, we find the United States, China and Europe leading the development of this technology. They are followed by Japan, Korea, Singapore and Australia as globally recognised competitors in the quantum development race. Not to be overlooked is Europe, which is investing billions of euros in driving this cutting-edge technology. 

All the world's major powers, from the United States to China and the EU, consider quantum computing to be a priority for scientific research in areas such as pharmaceuticals, the environment and energy. It is worth noting here that the major companies involved in the development of quantum computers are American, namely IBM, Google, Intel, Honeywell and IonQ.  

According to McKinsey & Company's June 2022 Quantum Technology Monitor, the European Union is focusing its interests on quantum computing and, together with China, is considered to be the region that invests the most public funds in the development of this innovative technology. However, the quantum market is dominated by North America, which is home to 10 of the top 12 manufacturers.

PHOTO/GOOGLE vía REUTERS - Una fotografía de octubre de 2019 muestra a Sundar Pichai y Daniel Sank (derecha) con una de las computadoras cuánticas de Google en el laboratorio de Santa Bárbara, California
PHOTO/GOOGLE via REUTERS - An October 2019 photograph shows Sundar Pichai and Daniel Sank (right) with one of Google's quantum computers at the lab in Santa Barbara, California

In an effort not to be left behind in the quantum race led by the US and China, the EU had selected six countries to develop quantum computing on their territory. In fact, we have the BSC-CNS in Spain, Alpine Quantum Technologies (AQT) in Austria, PASQAL in France. In addition to Italy and the Netherlands, several multinational companies have landed on the continent helping European countries to get their act together with ambitious plans in the quantum sector. Thus, while IBM had installed a quantum computer in Zurich (Switzerland), Google has installed another one at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the German CSIC, outside Stuttgart.

For its part, Spain also aims to secure its position on the world quantum chessboard. So, with a financial endowment of 22 million euros, it had launched in 2021 the Quantum Spain initiative (BSC-CNS) based in Barcelona. It is a project involving 25 universities and 14 autonomous communities. A few months ago, the first delivery of the quantum computer took place at the BSC to a 5-cubit chip, with a view to having a 30-cubit quantum computer by 2025. 

In order to achieve European quantum sovereignty, the EU drew up a roadmap with Quantum Spain among the other projects spread across six countries. It is worth mentioning that the startup Qilimanjaro (spin-off of the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre, IFAE and the University of Barcelona) and the multinational GMV are responsible for this project. The EU's priority is to manufacture quantum computers with 100% European technology, without resorting to large American or Japanese multinational competitors to obtain a chip.

PHOTO/SEEQC vía REUTERS - Salas limpias de SEEQC en la fundición de chips de la empresa donde se diseñan, fabrican y prueban los chips superconductores, en Elmsford, Nueva York, EE. UU.
PHOTO/SEEQC via REUTERS - SEEQC's clean rooms at the company's chip foundry where superconducting chips are designed, manufactured and tested, in Elmsford, New York, USA

In an interview to D+I - EL ESPAÑOL, the CEO of Qilimanjaro emphasised "the real positioning of Spain in the field of quantum computing, which is becoming a strong player compared to other European countries such as Germany"; stating that "it is a technology that is sensed and expected to be disruptive throughout society and industry, both at the level of security, communications, logistics, medicine and other areas". 

As part of this race that has multinational companies and the world's major nations salivating, other international powers are marking their participation. Despite the opaque panorama that reigns in the field of quantum computing in Russia, the world's largest country has not let this opportunity slip through its fingers. In 2020, the Russian government has invested €700 million in the development of quantum technologies, resulting in the creation of the National Quantum Laboratory in 2022. Currently, the Russian scientific institute Russian Quantum Center is looking for partnerships with other centres in the BRICS group of countries. 

India has recently declared its National Quantum Mission, which aims to double scientific and industrial research and development in quantum technologies in the coming years.

PHOTO/BAIDU vía  REUTERS - El ordenador cuántico Qianshi, desarrollado por Baidu, se presenta en Pekín, China
PHOTO/BAIDU via REUTERS - The Qianshi quantum computer, developed by Baidu, is unveiled in Beijing, China

According to the McKinsey & Company report of April 2023, the economic projection of quantum computing by 2035 is estimated to be between $620 billion and $1.27 trillion. It will focus exclusively on four industrial sectors: chemistry, finance, life sciences and automotive. 

It is a milestone that will shake the course of history.  Given the enormous opportunities that such a market could open up, it must be recognised that it will generate further inequalities between the different countries and peoples of the world. Indeed, a country with this technology will have the power to decrypt messages, so that the security of other countries will not be guaranteed. It would also be able to carry out chemical research for its health or its products and develop much more advanced weapons thanks to its calculations.

PHOTO/BERND WEISSBROD - La primera computadora cuántica utilizada comercialmente se presenta en la sede alemana de la empresa IBM en Ehningen, Alemania, el martes 15 de junio de 2021
PHOTO/BERND WEISSBROD - The first commercially used quantum computer is unveiled at IBM's German headquarters in Ehningen, Germany, on Tuesday, 15 June 2021

For the other countries currently outside the quantum game, this cutting-edge quantum computing technology threatens their security and future, imposing the need to develop an industry of their own to help them move forward; but the key is capability, which most still do not have today. 

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