Quantum Computing at Caltech27 Feb 2019
If you think you understand quantum mechanics, then you don’t understand quantum mechanics.
~Prof Richard Feynman, Caltech
The Caltech Entrepreneurs Forum offers a blend of tech + business on Saturday mornings, roughly once per month. The February 2019 session featured quantum computing enthusiasts from a variety of disciplines:
- Quantum Physicist: Prof Maria Spiropulu of Caltech
- Corporate Research Scientist: Joe Latone of IBM
- Venture Capitalist: Yipeng Zhao of Embark Ventures
- Entrepreneur: Alireza Shabani of Qulab
- M&A Specialist: Andy Tomat of Four Pillars
Purpose of the gathering: To wrestle with questions in the field of quantum computing.
Physicists and Film Makers
The moderator, Andy Tomat, began the session by asking if there were any physicists in the room. A few hands shot up (out of roughly 80 people in the room). After a few more questions, it became clear that the audience contained people from fields that one would not immediately connect with quantum computing. For example, I happened to be sitting next to a film-maker. He was attending the session because he enjoys science and he’s looking for the next big thing in realistic rendering.
Next, the moderator reviewed some QC terms, summarized in the chart below…
Dr. Maria Spiropulu, professor of physics at Caltech, gave the keynote. The presentation began with the obligatoray chart of Moore’s Law, but with a twist. The exponential curve was extended to include improvements likely to come from quantum computing.
Spiropulu’s talk covered quantum clocks, quantum keys, and a list of three-letter government agencies that are all active in the QC world.
The keynote ended with a description of the Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QEDC), a partnership between the US government and SRI corporation that aims to expand U.S. leadership in quantum R & D.
The keynote speaker was joined by three panelists, and then the group took questions that the audience had submitted in advance. A few highlights from the panel:
- IBM is offering web access to their quantum hardware and software for free. Smart move by IBM. The data they gather by observing early quantum programmers will certainly be worth more than the cost of operating their quantum machines and simulators.
- Embark Ventures focuses mainly on cyber security and infrastructure. Being at a QC event probably means that they see the puck headed toward quantum.
- Some argue that it’s too soon to reap benefits from quantum computing. But Alireza Shabani, CEO of Qulab, sees things differently. His company is using quantum to simulate molecules, very difficult for classical computers and extremely useful to companies in the pharmaceutical industry.
Bottom line: This month’s Caltech Entrepreneurs Forum was a magnet for talent on the cutting edge of quantum. Looking forward to more.