The quantum era requires curiosity, and the ability to look far enough into the future

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The need for knowledge is now growing faster than the ability of degree programs to keep up with developments. It is worth keeping an eye on the quantum time on the horizon because it is estimated to be a reality in 2030. When realized, quantum machines will revolutionize our understanding of the possibilities of technology.

The importance of developing technology will increase strongly in the coming years. However, the ability of organizations to perceive the possibilities of new technologies is still limited:

Companies and organizations already know how to describe goals, objectives, and processes quite well as part of strategy work, and how to reach the goal. However, often one important question is left unasked: what should we learn to reach the goal?

Learning itself is in transition. Many of the developing technologies are such that degrees have not yet been developed around them. As part of the green transition, we will experience a wave of micro-degrees and a shift in learning towards non-formal learning. The need for knowledge is now growing faster than the ability of degree programs to keep up with developments.

It is worth keeping an eye on the quantum era on the horizon because it is estimated to be a reality in 2030. When realized, quantum machines will revolutionize our understanding of the possibilities of technology.

The Quantum era challenges human perception

Whereas today’s computers calculate digital bits, ones or zeros, a quantum computer calculates with qubits, which enable the processing of huge masses of data simultaneously. The scale can be understood, for example, by the fact that Google’s 54-qubit machine completed a task in about 3 minutes, which, according to Google’s estimate, would have taken a traditional supercomputer ten thousand years. In addition to Google, Intel, IBM, and Microsoft are also participating in the global quantum computing race, while governments like China, the United States, and England are investing in quantum technologies. In Finland, VTT has acquired its quantum machine.

Quantum technology is hoped to provide solutions to many questions affecting the energy industry, medicine, and at the same time the whole of humanity. It is possible that we will find, for example, things about climate change that we cannot currently understand and simulate, because the capacity of today’s computers is not enough.

With the help of quantum technology, we will probably get more information about humans as well, and we will be able to produce more individualized information for medicine and understanding of the human molecular level. These are challenging topics and often the most difficult questions of all, to which the computing power of the human brain is impossible to adapt.

“Like a thief in the night”

Although the quantum era still seems far away to many, quantum computing and quantum technology are currently developing at such a pace that it is worth following the development closely.

Attention should be paid to the quantum. For example in Finnish companies, so far there have been almost no preparations for the arrival of quantum technology, which is very worrying. In many organizations, the matter has not been given even the first thought, even though it is important to at least be aware of the existence of quantum technologies.

A point of comparison can be applied to artificial intelligence; artificial intelligence also experienced the so-called artificial intelligence winter when its realization was not believed. In 2017, artificial intelligence spread to everyone’s consciousness, and new applications started to enter the market. Artificial intelligence became a reality and part of the everyday life of organizations. A similar development can be expected from quantum machines.

All signals and almost daily progress support the fact that we are moving forward all the time. One day, five, ten, or twenty years from now, a quantum computer will be a reality. Preparation for the quantum era must start now because when the time comes, it happens out of the blue, and challenges, which are difficult to overcome as a winner, arise for the unprepared.

From data security and cyber security point of view, quantum technology also brings a clear challenge. If a quantum machine can break virtually any current encryption, it will significantly increase the threat of cyber-attacks and make, for example, current blockchain technologies vulnerable. On the other hand, with the help of a quantum machine, it may be possible to create a completely unbreakable internet, which takes cyber security to a new level.

Quantum technology can be used for research and product development or for improving the productivity of processes in many different industries. It becomes easier to produce different analysis and forecasting models and, for example, in the banking and financial sector, fraud prevention, and risk assessment become substantially more effective.

From humanity’s point of view, the greatest benefits arise from speeding up the development cycles of medicines and vaccines, as well as combating climate change, and the possibility to reduce emissions.

Quantum technology also requires a change in mindset

Quantum technology requires an extensive change in the way of thinking, when the current digital world gets from a world that consists of strings of ones and zeros, to a world where ones and zeros are simultaneous and in two states at the same time.

Everything will be much faster

The words efficiency and productivity will not disappear anywhere, but in the future, they will focus on things other than human-made work. In practice, this means, for example, that when a quantum machine simulates a solution quickly, the meaning of human work changes.

It is good to be aware that this does not mean that human work will disappear, but that the importance of humans as part of the process must be seen differently. A person must see meaning in the process itself; for example, in learning something new, better understanding humanity, or increasing empathy. In the future, the manager’s most important task will be handling this slow and at the same time lightning-fast process and asking the right and meaningful questions.

The paradigm shift will also be seen as a change in decision-making, which will be revolutionary in terms of management. While now we can in some way trace how artificial intelligence has reached its conclusions, it is not possible to act in the same way with a quantum machine, because there might be no traceability.

The absence of verification and relying on a quantum machine will be big leaps forward because we are used to being able to verify how the result or conclusion in question has been reached.

The leader of the quantum era dares to think big

From the point of view of companies, it is important to think about how an organization can succeed with the help of a quantum machine, and what are the questions that we can seek answers to with the help of a quantum machine?

Leaders who know how to think big and who dare to tackle multidimensional and difficult problems by utilizing quantum technology to solve them will succeed in the quantum era. The problems themselves must be able to be formulated from different perspectives than before.

Competing actors should be kept an eye on and at least be aware of their goals to introduce quantum technology. Unprepared companies sooner or later face the so-called zero moments, which makes an unprepared company unnecessary, history has many examples of this to tell.

Emerging technologies and becoming familiar with them is on the agenda of a future-aware government operating in the present. It is not enough for the boards of companies and organizations to only look at the year that started, but the focus should be further, ten or even tens of years away. However, this does not necessarily mean that there should be ready-made plans. For many, it is enough to be curious about the becoming quantum era.

It’s about increasing awareness and following the development of technology even from the corner of the eye. About realizing that when quantum time is realized, it will change many existing truths.

Anticipating quantum time is one of the most important tasks of management

The development of quantum technology already offers us many possible paths to the future and the questions in which direction leadership should develop. Following weak signals and advancements and being aware of technological developments plays a key role in future-proof management.

You can still hear a lot of voices saying that there will be no quantum era. Of course, this may be possible, but very unlikely so. This is evidenced, for example, by the significant investments that are currently being made in quantum machines around the world. Fundamental breakthroughs have also been made where a quantum computer has already been able to be more efficient than a classical computer in a narrow sector. Currently, the development of quantum technology is moving forward by leaps and bounds.

That’s why it’s interesting how quantum time has received so little attention in companies so far. It seems that the biggest reason why the quantum era does not fit on the management’s agenda is that the issue and the importance of the phenomenon are not yet fully understood, or the topic still seems too distant.

However, it is typical for development that things progress slowly at first until suddenly a leap forward is taken. In the same way that the development of a traditional computer has taken it from one large, room-sized machine to a tool that fits in your pocket, a similar future awaits the quantum machine.

That’s why it’s worth looking at and familiarizing yourself with the quantum future right now.

#technology #quantumconputing #prediction

The article was originally published in Finnish at Johdonagendalla leadership portal.

Cristina Andersson is an entrepreneur and business management consultant. She has been working with artificial intelligence and robotics since 2011. She is a member of the steering group of the Artificial Intelligence 4.0 program led by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, and she serves as the chair of the program’s Green transition group. Cristina is an educationalist by background. She has also studied the future of work, technology, and management, and she sees professional foresight and learning as a vital part of continuous learning. She believes that one must understand emerging technologies to realize what to learn and study.

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