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The UK is a ‘leader’ in quantum computing – Cambridge Quantum CEO

quantum computing uk
Image credit: Shutterstock / Bartlomiej K. Wroblewski

The CEO and founder of Cambridge Quantum has said the UK is a “leader” in quantum computing and predicted that machines will reach a quantum volume in the millions of qubits within a year.

Speaking at the Innovate Finance Global Summit, Ilyas Khan predicted that there will be quantum applications for fintechs within the next three to five years.

There have been significant advances in quantum computers in the last few years, but fully fledged and error-free machines are still considered to be some way from becoming a reality.

Quantum volume measures the number of effective qubits that a quantum processor has. The highest measurement so far has been 2,046, but Khan predicts that machines will reach one million within 12 months.

“I think that a view that is any more aggressive than that could be misleading, but a view that is more conservative than that is equally misleading,” Khan said.

Quantum computers promise far superior firepower than traditional computers. That additional computing power is expected to revolutionise areas such as financial modelling, drug discovery and supply chain optimisation.

A small but growing number of institutions are exploring the uses of quantum computing via remotely accessed machines. Last week, HSBC announced a partnership with IBM to trial quantum computers in banking.

Another potential use for quantum computers is natural language processing and a computer that will truly understand speech.

“Siri and Alexa don’t have a bloody clue what you’re talking about, or what red is, it doesn’t know what an Apple is,” said Khan.

“I think that we are likely to have a device that actually is meaning aware and is capable of interacting with human beings in the way that we’re all interacting now,” added Khan.

Khan predicts this could be within the next decade or 20 years but wouldn’t be as far as 50 years.

Quantum computers are also expected to improve artificial intelligence, which Khan describes as being correct 51% of the time and will reach 80-90% correction with the “degrees of freedom” of a quantum computer.

While tech giants IBM and Google are two of the leading players in the quantum computing space, the UK is home to fast-growing quantum computers that are developing hardware, software and tools to advance the industry.

Recently Oxford-based QuantrolOx raised £1.4m in its seed funding round to develop its artificial intelligence software that tunes and stabilises quantum computers.

Other UK quantum computing companies include Cambridge-based Riverlane, Oxford-based PQShield and Brighton-based Universal Quantum.