Seriously Though

Nikita Gourianov, an Oxford quantum scientist, ripped into the quantum computing sector this week in a scathing editorial piece for the Financial Times, equating the "fanfare" surrounding the technology to a financial bubble. He wrote, "In other words, it's much more hype than substance."


It's a harsh, but maybe perceptive, examination of a young field that, at the very least, still has much to prove.


Making Money

Gourianov contends that despite the enormous sums of money invested in quantum computing, the sector has not yet produced a single solution-capable product. This indicates that these companies are receiving orders of magnitude more in financing than they can bring in in actual revenue, which indicates a bubble that is expanding and may eventually collapse.


Instead of genuinely utilising any advantages that quantum computers have over classical computers, Gourianov wrote for the FT that most of the little money that these companies make comes from consulting assignments designed to teach other businesses about "how quantum computers will help their business."


In addition, he noted that modern quantum computers are "so error-prone that any information one tries to process with them would almost instantaneously degrade into noise," a problem that researchers have been working to solve for years.


Gourianov also attacked other tenets of the subject, contending that worries about quantum computers being able to break even the most secure cryptography systems are exaggerated.


 The article was published just a few weeks after a team of researchers discovered that a traditional computer could indeed compete with Google's Sycamore quantum computer, casting doubt on the tech giant's claims that it had achieved "quantum supremacy" in 2019.


Simply hype

Despite the industry's underwhelming performance, investors continue to pour enormous sums of money into quantum computing projects. In essence, Gourianov noted, "despite the hype, the quantum computing sector has yet to demonstrate any practical benefit." "Why then is there such a large inflow of cash? Well, the fanfare is primarily to blame."


 He claims that the money is coming from investors who often "take senior positions in firms and focus entirely on generating publicity," without having "any comprehension of quantum mechanics."


Gourianov, in other words, thinks that it's just a matter of time before the "bubble will collapse" and the "financing will dry up"—at which point it's already too late.

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