The UK government committed a further £2.5bn to developing quantum technologies in early 2023, whilst AI was granted the spotlight, with a further £500m investment over the next two years in the Autumn Statement, taking total UK government investment in AI to over £4bn.
There is a government focus on both technologies yet the government hosted the first AI Safety Summit but no such conference on quantum is set to take place, questioning where quantum lies within the priorities of world leaders when it comes to tech. However quantum technology will ultimately be crucial to the progression of AI, since the computing power that it requires cannot be cannot be fulfilled with current classical computer systems.
Quantum uses the laws of quantum mechanics to solve problems too complex for classical computers, studying the physical limits of information processing, leading to advances in many fields of science and industry. The most simple yet effective way to describe what quantum means to technology is first came analog, then came digital and the next trend will be quantum.
AI will not work without the computing power of quantum. Quantum is an evolving technology that has been developing rapidly and, if used with AI, it can aid research and development as well as increase growth.
The pace at which AI is developing means that classic computers will no longer be able to keep up, hastening the move to quantum. This means that technology will need to become hybrid, quantum will be in the cloud and computational power will need to be shared. Machine learning and AI are moving towards quantum, away from digital, thus recognising this tech change is for the present, not just the future.
Practical applications of quantum are becoming increasingly limitless as more time and investment goes into the technology. Quantum has allowed for the creation of devices which serve archaeology, surveying and navigation purposes, as well as high frequency financial trading means. How can this aid the government and the country? It is expected that quantum computing will be economically transformative in the next 3 to 4 years, projecting to be a dominant force in the tech market and exceeding 1 billion US dollars by 2030. This enhances the UK prime minister Rishi Sunak’s pledge to grow the economy, creating better-paid jobs and opportunity right across the country.
UK quantum scene
Overall, the UK is well placed amongst nations leading the way in quantum. In March 2023 it was published that the government committed a further £2.5bn to the development of quantum technologies domestically, starting in the new year across the following decade.
Just days after the Autumn Statement, the UK hosted the Global Investment Summit which directed some much-deserved attention on the quantum sector. Oxford Quantum Circuits (OQC) announced it is raising $106m for research and development projects, acknowledging quantum computing as a rapidly growing sector that has the most start-ups in Europe.
It was promising to learn that Japan’s premier venture capital fund, SBI Investment, is leading the raise for what will be the UK’s largest ever round for Series B in quantum computing. This backing highlights the importance of developing quantum tech, and moreover how important it is for the UK to establish itself as a leader in tech.
Investment in quantum lays the foundations to quantum advantage and increases the ability of OQC to bring next generation platforms of hundreds of qubits to business globally. These announcements at the Global Investment Summit cement OQC and the UK as global quantum leaders.
The £2.5bn 10 year quantum computing drive from the government is positive but it would be encouraging for the Treasury to further recognise the importance of this sector, its impact on the growth of technology like AI and its future economic potential. Quantum computing is the future and the more awareness created for that fact, the greater the scope of potential for quantum computing there will be.