Quantum Computing

Are We Facing the Quantum Productivity Paradox? Researchers Offer Potential Solutions to Economic Disturbances


Insider Summary

  • Technological innovation often begins with a short-term loss of productivity.
  • The researchers wrote that the introduction of quantum computers could lead to lost productivity that could affect the economy.
  • The scientists also offer ways to mitigate the potential negative productivity disruptions of quantum computing.

As businesses embrace quantum computing, the long-term potential for gaining competitive advantage looks promising, but long-term technology booms often start with short-term economic failures, often referred to as the productivity paradox, according to two researchers writing in Natural.

The productivity paradox of quantum computing may have more severe consequences than the early days of digital computers, write Chander Velu, from the University of Cambridge and Fathiro HR Putra, from the Bandung Institute of Technology. Fortunately, scientists also say there may be strategies to reduce some of these disorders.

The Productivity Paradox

According to the researchers, when digital computers gained popularity in the 1970s and 1980s, they initially slowed productivity growth by 0.76 percentage points per year. This phenomenon, known as the productivity paradox, stems from the need for businesses to invest in new equipment and learn how to program devices, while neglecting other necessary innovations. Finally, after a period of adjustment in the 1990s, productivity growth accelerated. This transition requires a great deal of time, investment, and coordination across sectors and companies.

Researchers report that the quantum computing revolution may present a larger and more expensive learning curve due to three main factors: high integration costs, difficulties in translating quantum concepts for business managers and engineers, and the threat to cryptography posed by quantum computers.

If the introduction of commercial quantum computers drives the pace of productivity growth to slow by an additional 50%, the researchers estimate that this could result in an economic loss in per capita gross domestic product of about $13,000 (US) over 15 years (based on 2022 levels). ), or $310 billion annually in the United States alone.

Reducing the Quantum Productivity Paradox

To mitigate the challenges posed by the quantum productivity paradox, experts propose the following strategy:

  1. Demonstrate the value of quantum computers for social challenges: Businesses should initially adopt quantum computers to gradually solve existing problems. However, to encourage more ambitious use, additional costs and potential failures need to be addressed. Government funding can play a critical role in attracting private investment and framing the adoption of quantum computing as a mission to solve major industry and societal challenges. Demonstrating practical applications, such as weather forecasting or increasing the resilience of a financial system, will help illustrate commercial advantage.
  2. Agree on a common language and build understanding: Quantum technology operates on counterintuitive principles, often foreign to engineers and business managers. Establishing a shared language among scientists, engineers, and managers is critical to identifying the right problems for quantum computers and preparing data in a quantum-ready format. A quantum unified modeling language, similar to the standard Unified Modeling Language used for digital computer programming, will enable effective communication, simplify software development, and shorten development time.
  3. Build a quantum internet with secure encryption: Quantum computing poses a threat to current encryption protocols. To protect data and communications, companies must invest in new mathematical approaches or adopt quantum-based communication systems such as quantum key distribution. Integrating quantum computers and quantum communication technologies into a coordinated network, known as the quantum internet, can overcome security threats. The quantum internet can lead to new business models, increased privacy, and increased supply chain flexibility.

Overall, researchers are optimistic about the transition to the quantum era.

“The promise of quantum computing is great – if researchers can help pave the way for its implementation,” they wrote.

You can read their full paper Here.


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