Guest Post By Michael Sarpong Bruce
IQM Quantum Computer Communications Specialist
Although heavily male-dominated compared to other fields of technology, quantum technology is expected to transform society and more women need to be attracted to increase diversity and inclusion, according to Dr. Ines de Vega, Head of Quantum Innovation at IQM Quantum Computers.
Speaking on the panel “The future elegantly modeled: quantum computing” at the 2023 International Women’s Forum Cornerstone Conference in the Finnish capital, Helsinki, Dr. de Vega said that “I believe that because quantum is a relatively new field with great expansion potential, we have an amazing opportunity to, this time, do it even better and promote and encourage more women to follow quantum careers.”
Together with Dr. Mina Teicher, Professor of Mathematics and Neuroscience at Bar Ilan University and Director of Advancing Women in Mathematics Across America at the University of Miami, on the panel, Dr. de Vega taps into his own experience of breaking down barriers in discussion.
He explained that, in other fields, the method, style, emphasis, and culture had been determined decades ago in a way that was biased and somewhat influenced by the society at that time.
However, at a company like IQM, one of the things she enjoys most when she arrives is that everything is new and can be changed, shaped and created, adding that “this new field makes it possible to generate a welcoming atmosphere that encourages diversity and women to join, speak up and develop strong careers.”
According to reports from London School of Economics and Political Scienceless than two percent of quantum job applicants are women.
Explaining the areas where quantum computing can accelerate innovation to more than 500 women from 32 countries at the conference with the theme “Think Differently”, Dr. Teicher said quantum computing will help solve the big challenges of the 21st century, such as medicine, climate change, etc. “It will also accelerate the development of brain-machine interfaces, which can be good or bad.”
While Dr. de Vega says that there are several areas where quantum could make a major contribution, citing the example of drug development when very accurate descriptions of the electronic properties of drug molecules are needed.
“By simulating molecular structures and interactions, quantum computers can provide insight into the effectiveness and safety of potential drug compounds, enabling more efficient drug discovery and optimization processes,” he said.
In response to a question about what advantages early adopters of quantum technology will have, Dr. Teicher points out that quantum will widen the digital divide for everyone. “Companies that don’t adapt will disappear. For the country, it is very expensive. It will be the job of developed countries to make quantum computers available to everyone. Communication is like food; it matters to everyone.”
Dr. de Vega believes that early adopters of quantum technology have the potential to gain several benefits, including competitive advantage, intellectual property, and innovation.
He emphasized that being an early adopter of quantum technology can give organizations a competitive advantage in their respective industries. “Quantum computing has the potential to revolutionize various sectors, such as finance, logistics, materials science and healthcare.
“By leveraging algorithms and quantum capabilities, early adopters can solve complex problems, optimize processes and develop innovative solutions that were previously not possible with classical computing. This can lead to increased efficiency, cost savings and differentiation from competitors.”
He continued that organizations that invest in quantum technology early can develop intellectual property and gain significant advantages in terms of innovation.
Quantum computing is a fast-growing field, and pioneering work in quantum algorithms, software, and hardware can lead to valuable patents and proprietary knowledge. “This intellectual property can create barriers to entry for competitors and position early adopters as leaders in the quantum technology landscape, he added.
Touching on the main differences between quantum computing and classical computing, Dr. Teicher says the advantage of quantum computing over classical computing is not the problem; main point is speed. “The speed of quantum computing will change many aspects of computing. It analyzes data and makes informed decisions in an instant.”
Dr. de Vega, on the other hand, says that in classical computing, computations are performed sequentially, one instruction at a time. In quantum computing, qubits can exist in a superposition of states, meaning that qubits can exist in several states at the same time. “This property allows quantum computers to perform multiple computations in parallel, offering the potential for exponential acceleration for certain algorithms compared to classical computers.”
He stated that quantum entanglement is a phenomenon in which two or more qubits are correlated in such a way that the state of one qubit cannot be explained independently of the state of another.
“Entanglement allows quantum computers to create complex relationships between qubits, leading to powerful computational effects. This allows quantum computers to perform certain computations more efficiently than classical computers.”
He concluded that, despite the need for international regulations or standards, the ethical and legal issues surrounding quantum technology were not ready. “One must consider at this point that quantum computation is still in its infancy. That is, we still cannot imagine the impact it might have on society and its consequences.
“Most of the international regulatory and ethical issues should be progressively resolved as the first applications where quantum computers outperform classical computers.”