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A professional’s guide to Quantum Technology

By Joran van Apeldoorn and Koen Groenland

This guide will be rapidly expanding in the following months: see the table of contents for articles in the pipeline. 

Preface: Why this guide?

Quantum is hot. As scientific researchers on this topic, we see more and more interest from companies, governments, and geeky individuals who want to dive into this topic. When the research group at Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica started working on this topic in the 90s, quantum technology was a purely academic exercise, very much like highly abstract math. It sounded cool, but nobody bothered to pay too much attention to real-world relevance. Today, we see multi-million investments and frequent news coverage in national newspapers. 

Sadly, we find that most of the ‘accessible’ articles are highly inaccurate. It’s by no means true that authors try to actively mislead the readers… but it’s just extremely challenging to provide reliable information on the topic of Quantum. Firstly, the topic itself is hard to grasp and incredibly confusing (there are several paradoxes that are practically impossible to not be fooled by). Secondly, much of the future use of quantum technology is unclear: it’s simply not known to anyone when we’ll have the first quantum computer, and how we’ll use it! And lastly, there’s a new wave of businesses and startups that are financially invested in quantum: it’s important for them to sell their product or service as a revolutionary technology, and the ones with the most extreme claims are the ones who will be quoted in the media.

For who is this blog series?

The reason we want to write this blog is to offer a reliable and independent source of information. Additionally, this allows us to link to sources that we think are reliable. We specifically target professionals who are willing to invest a few hours of their time to gain a vision and an overview of this topic that goes slightly deeper than the typical news article. We’re thinking of journalists, managers, IT or security specialists, scientists and R&D staff from related fields, consultants or technology scouts.

 

What is it about?
Our goal is to make very clear:

  • What practical use-cases are foreseen for quantum computers and quantum networks (but also what they absolutely cannot do). 
  • When we can expect a quantum computer or network, and how far we are now.
  • What the societal impact is, for example on cryptography.
  • What the current quantum ecosystem looks like. 
  • Why you cannot trust every claim about quantum technology and what you should look out for.
  • When organizations should start acting and how. 
 

What this guide is not:

  • An explanation of the inner working of quantum technology or the underlying physics (for that, see the Further Reading page). 
  • An explanation of quantum sensors. These by all means are an interesting technology, but they’re beyond the scope of this guide. 


We aim to present Quantum
without going into much technical detail. Isn’t that weird? Many people ask us: shouldn’t you have some grasp of quantum physics before you can understand the impact of quantum? Well, we like to then return the question: if you run a company that uses conventional computers, do you need to master electrical engineering? Or chip design? We’d rather not care about how the device is built, but focus on what end-users will do with them. 

Up next is the first part: Why are we so enthusiastic about Quantum Technology? 

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