Project Q

Project Q, Q Research

The Race for Quantum Supremacy


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When Project Q began its investigations into quantum innovation in 2013, the prospect of a functioning quantum computer was often given, at best, as somewhere between 15 to 20 years out. With each passing year, the timeline began to collapse.

This month the Project Q team once again took to the road for its documentary film. We visited the big names in quantum computing (as well as some smaller start-ups) and interviewed some of the key thinkers in the field. The takeaway? Quantum supremacy – the moment when a quantum computer solves problems a classical computer cannot – could well be reached in the next six months.

For those unfamiliar with the differences, quantum computing represents not only a substantive jump from classical computing but revolutionises the very way in which computing processing takes place. Qubits, the quantum-bits that form the basic elements of a quantum computer, are able to exist in multiple states of 1 and 0, whereas classical computers use digital bits operating in on-off states of either 1 or 0. The superposition of states vastly improves the rate in which calculations are made, and opens the door to new and potentially disruptive applications.

One of the highlights of trip was our visit to the quantum Google Lab in Santa Barbara, California, where we interviewed chief scientist John Martinis in a meeting room named after Richard Feynman, the brilliant physicist who first came up with the idea of a quantum computer in 1981 (yes, there were bongo drums).

Project Q visits John Martinis at Google Lab

The development of a 49-qubit chip by Alphabet (Google’s parent corporation) was not only mooted but given a roll-out date of the end of the year. While a practical quantum computer for the end user might still be a decade away – and require hundreds of thousands of qubits and robust quantum error correction – a 49-qubit chip paves the way towards quantum supremacy in areas like the factoring of prime numbers (which keeps the NSA up at night) or the simulation of complex systems (which would be very useful in chemistry, medicine and weather prediction).

Upon landing back in Sydney, we found many of our findings confirmed in a lead article in the Wall Street Journal. Keeping one eye on the shrinking timeline for quantum computing, and the other on a growing need to bring the public up to speed, we decided it might also be a good idea to move up the delivery date of our documentary film, Project Q: The Question of Quantum.

Project Q, Q Research

Microsoft intensifying its presence in the higher education research field


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Last July, Microsoft and The University of Sydney announced a continuous partnership with the University’s Nanoscience Laboratory to develop quantum technology based computers. It is now confirmed that the IT giant has also established a Quantum Centre at The Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen. This seems to be following a trend of the implementation of research labs between the corporate world and institutions of higher education for which quantum physics and technology research has been a large recipient. Microsoft’s other experimental research sites are at Purdue University, and Delft University of Technology. There are only four labs of this kind in the world.

Professor Charles Marcus, head of The Niels Bohr Institute’s Centre for Quantum Devices (Qdev)

 

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Carnegie Corporation of New York announces award of major grant to the Centre for International Security Studies at the University of Sydney for Project Q


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Who will benefit from and who will be harmed by the advent of quantum computing, communications and artificial intelligence? Are social media, global surveillance, data-mining and other networked technologies already producing quantum effects in world politics? Will a quantum revolution present us with sentient programs, feral algorithms and non-human forms of intelligence? Who will ‘win’ the quantum race? When and how will quantum be ‘weaponised’? What are the implications for peace and security?

These and other pressing questions have been the key issues addressed by the first-ever multidisciplinary project on quantum innovations, ‘Project Q: Peace and Security in a Quantum Age’. Started three years ago by the Centre for International Security Studies (CISS) with funding from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the School of Social and Political Sciences and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Project Q was created to assess the possibility, significance and global impact of new quantum technologies. (more…)

Project Q

“Is uncertainty the defining feature of our contemporary experience?”


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This past month the Centre for International Security Studies (CISS) held the inaugural CISS Global Forum, a two-day event that began with an evening roundtable at the University of Sydney, followed by a full day workshop to discuss peace and security under uncertainty.

The Global Forum series was designed to respond rapidly and critically to new and pressing global issues. This year’s Forum focused on assessing the impact of uncertainty on peace and security from the interstices of philosophy and politics, science and the humanities, journalism and history.

(more…)

Project Q, Q Research

The Cyber Age Demands a New Understanding of War — but We’d Better Hurry


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Project Q Director, James Der Derian wrote an article for a special feature about war in the cyber age on the Berggruen Institute’s Zócalo Public Square. The article traces the history of ‘cyberwar’ and our understanding of it, but highlights the need to consider war in a quantum age.

Read the full article here via the Berggruen Institute’s website.

Image: Berggruen Institute website

Project Q, Q Research

A sneak preview of ‘Project Q: The Question of Quantum’


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At a special roundtable at the International Studies Association (ISA) meeting in Baltimore, James Der Derian, Director of CISS at The University of Sydney, presented the teaser for the documentary film Project Q: The Question of Quantum. Click above to watch.

The teaser takes us from the subatomic to the cosmic to ask the question of what happens when quantum computing, communication and artificial intelligence go online. The film is a part of a transmedia project funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York that will include a special issue of the Security Dialogue journal; a collected volume of multidisciplinary essays; and an e-book for policymakers.

All four will be tied together by the Project Q website, which acts as a hub for the latest news stories, short video features, interviews and archival material from past events.

The roundtable, ‘What’s Quantum Got to Do with It?: A New Philosophy for the Science of International Relations’ will feature presentations by William E. Connolly (Johns Hopkins University), Larry N. George (California State University, Long Beach), Jairus V. Grove (University of Hawaii, Manoa), Alexander Wendt (Ohio State University), Colin Wight (University of Sydney), Shohini Ghose (Wilfrid Laurier University) and Stephen Del Rosso (Carnegie Corporation of New York).

Recently, Stephen Del Rosso from the Carnegie Corporation of New York wrote a piece on quantum philanthropy which highlighted Project Q’s work to better understand quantum’s far-reaching implications. The piece is now available to read without a pay wall here via the Carnegie Corporation website.

Project Q, Q Research, Q3

Project Q is highlighted in this new piece on ‘quantum philanthropy’


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Program director for international peace and security at the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Stephen Del Rosso, writes in The Chronicle of Philanthropy on the increasing need for philanthropists to help further public understanding of the societal implications of quantum innovation, highlighting Project Q’s leading role in the effort.

Del Rosso writes, “Quantum presents a ripe target of opportunity for foundations that have long supported efforts to explore and explain complex notions rooted in science — from nuclear security to climate change — that affect our everyday lives. Moreover, through its grant making to scholars and policy experts and increasing interest in broadly disseminating their findings, philanthropy is well-positioned to take on this challenge.”

The article describes research endeavours by tech giants Microsoft, Google and IBM, as well as government agencies and major universities such as the University of Sydney’s Australian Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology (AINST) who are working on different developmental paths to a fully functioning quantum computer.

“Philanthropy is unhindered by the crisis-to-crisis mode of government operations or the disciplinary imperatives of the academy, so it is ideally suited to sponsor investigation into the relevance of quantum approaches today and in the future.” (more…)

Project Q, Q Research

Project Q interviews leading figure in Microsoft’s new quantum computing initiative


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On the cusp of the New York Times’ announcement that Microsoft was going all in on quantum computing, the Project Q team was in Copenhagen to interview Villum Kann Rasmussen Professor Charles Marcus at the Niels Bohr Institute, where the quantum revolution first began.

Professor Marcus along with Leo Kouwenhoven from the Delft University of Technology and David Reilly from the University of Sydney, all leading figures in the field of quantum computing, have been brought in by Microsoft in a combined effort to create the first scalable quantum computer using topological qubits.

Watch a clip from the interview below.

Image: From left, Leo Kouwenhoven and Charles Marcus attend the 2014 Microsoft’s Station Q conference in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Brian Smale)

Project Q, Q Research, Q3

Quantum Leap: China’s satellite and the new arms race


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Q3 speaker Taylor Owen recently wrote a piece for Foreign Affairs that explores the effects and implications of new quantum technologies on international relations, which features Project Q’s work and research.

The piece looks at the recent launch of China’s quantum satellite into orbit, the private and public partnerships in the development of quantum computers, and if in understanding these new quantum technologies we are able to better understand the universe.

Taylor Owen is an assistant professor of digital media and global affairs at the University of British Columbia and a Senior Fellow at the Columbia Journalism School. Listen to his talk below on the final roundtable event at the third annual Q Symposium last February.

Project Q, Q3

Q3 Symposium Highlight Video with Project Q Announcement


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Watch the highlight video of the 3rd annual Q Symposium (Q3), which was held on February 11-13, 2016 at the Q Station in Manly.

The Q team have just returned from Singapore where they attended the International Conference on Quantum Communication, Measurement and Computing (QCMC) at the National University of Singapore. The team conducted many interviews of attendees and professionals, ranging from quantum physicists to computer scientists to a global strategist, as part of the production of Project Q’s documentary film.

The team have also decided to postpone the upcoming 4th annual Q Symposium (Q4) to February 2018 to focus on producing the digital green paper and edited volume publications, as well as the treatment for the documentary feature film as part of Project Q.

In the meanwhile, keep up to date with the Project by subscribing to our blog updates at the bottom of this page or follow us on Twitter @ProjectQSydney.

Image above: The Q Team interviewing Alex Bocharov from Microsoft Research at the QCMC Conference in Singapore