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Quantum Computing’s Sputnik Moment

By KIM BELLARD

General Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently expressed grave concern about China’s reported test of a hypersonic missile: “I don’t know if it’s quite a Sputnik moment, but I think it’s very close to that. It has all of our attention.”  Maybe it should be, but General Milley may have missed the real 21st-century version of a Sputnik moment: China has claimed huge breakthroughs in quantum computing.  

It’s inside baseball to those of us who are neither computer experts nor quantum physicists, but let’s put it this way: the countries/companies that dominate quantum computing will dominate, full stop.  Healthcare included.  

I won’t pretend to understand quantum computers or try to explain how they work, but they’re to “traditional” computers as those computers are to, say, a calculator, or to an abacus.  They’re much faster – like a quantum leap faster – and can quickly do computations that would take even traditional supercomputers centuries to complete, if ever.  For example, think you’ve got an unbreakable code?  Unless you’ve got the fastest quantum computer, think again.  

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Better Get Your Quantum Computer

By KIM BELLARD

By all rights, I should be writing about the battle between Reddit forum WallStreetBets and Wall Street hedge funds. Depending on one’s point of view, it’s hilarious, frightening, or a searing indictment on stock trading – maybe all three. 

But I’m going to let Elon Musk and Elizabeth Warren handle that one.  Instead, I want to talk about quantum computing – and why healthcare needs to be looking ahead to it.

Let’s start with this: for the low, low price of $5,000, you could have your very own quantum computer.  Spin Q Technology, a Chinese company, has recently introduced its Spin Q, a less expensive, less powerful version of its Spin Q Gemini, which went for $50,000.  Other quantum computers, such as those by Google, IBM, or D-Wave, have a few more zeroes in their price.  Spin Q Technology has a clear goal in offering this version:

We believe that low-cost portable quantum computer products will facilitate hands-on experience for teaching quantum computing at all levels, well-prepare younger generations of students and researchers for the future of quantum technologies.

You may remember that Steve Jobs and Apple had a similar strategy in the 1980’s, establishing a presence in the education market and among a generation of users that has served it well. 

If you’re looking for something more powerful, maybe even use for business purposes, you are also in luck: today Microsoft announced that Azure Quantum “is now open for business.”    Microsoft bills Azure Quantum as “the world’s first full-stack, public cloud ecosystem for quantum solutions.” 

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