Quantum computing – meet the brand new shiny thing that could change the world

A $1b investment by the Federal and State Governments in a Quantum computer for Queensland is really good news. Greg Hallam explains why:

May 10, 2024, updated May 16, 2024
US President Joe Biden looks at the IBM System One quantum computer during a tour of an IBM facility in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

US President Joe Biden looks at the IBM System One quantum computer during a tour of an IBM facility in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)


This new shiny thing has the capacity to make us a Smart State and spurn whole new industries and attract billions of dollars in investment into Queensland, indeed Australia. It’s potentially that big.

In the media announcement mix-master world, $1 billion announcements have a circa two-day shelf life at best .

That was the case with the announcement on 30 April by the Premier and Prime Minister that they would jointly provide $1 billion to Psi Quantum to build the world’s first fault-tolerant commercial Quantum computer right here in Brisbane.

Maybe there was even a shorter life span for this announcement, given the confusing nature of the mysterious computer, which largely evoked glazed eyes and a “what the …….” response.

“Calculations that are completely impossible – not just on present- day conventional computers but any conceivable future conventional computer, would rapidly become possible on a quantum computer,” according to Professor Andrew Doherty of Sydney University.

Before giving detailed reasons as to why this announcement is really important – for not only science but commerce and industry,  we should try and unpack and demystify the quantum world and what this new computer is really about.

For all of us, whether or not we studied physics at school or university or left in year 10, our world has been greatly shaped by what’s known as Newtonian (Sir Isaac Newton) principles, regarding motion which were the basis of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

How many time have you heard the term linear – that’s Newtonian speak .But shock, horror linear isn’t correct and maths, physics and computing have moved on.

It’s no longer a digital world of ones and zeroes in fixed positions, or bits and bytes. Rather it’s a sub-atomic quantum world where ones and zeroes are interchangeable and replaced by cubits .

They don’t have fixed positions (ie they float), opening up an entirely new world of possibilities. In short, unlimited hitherto unachievable computing capabilities to infinity at blinding speed. Eureka!

The Quantum computers that currently exist resemble the latest sci- fi movie gizmo, are largely experimental, and operated by universities and military institutions .

They are said to suffer from “incoherence” because of the difficulties associated with the use of high magnetic forces and extreme cold temperatures in the operating environment. That’s made the quantum computers uncommercial to date .

For dummies like me, it’s best explained by saying this new technology reduces the “fuzziness” as the once ones and zeroes move around each other, making it so called fault- tolerant – aka precise enough to be reliable .

The Qsi Computer is said to be capable of making quantum computing fault tolerant. It’s claimed that the Qsi model uses extremely low-power sub-atomic fields to achieve consistent results .

Latest industry predictions have the first commercial fault-tolerant commercial Quantum computer operating by 2029.

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Why Queensland then? Indeed, why not. The scientists behind Qsi are Queenslanders (Professors O’Brien and Rudolph) and ex the University of Queensland .

They had to leave these shores a decade ago to further develop their concept. Now that it’s commercially ‘ready to deploy’ stage they have sought to “come home “ with financial incentives as the lure .

Acknowledging , while that this would be a scientific/ commercial breakthrough of epic proportions , it can be done.

It leaves all known existing computer capacity , including super computers in the dust and would not only super-charge computing, but medical, bio- technology, fin- tech and military applications in banana land .

The grand daddy is linking quantum computing with artificial intelligence, particularly generative artificial intelligence. Scope unlimited.

On my count there are currently seven bio-engineering, bio-medical and bio-technology research institutions in South-East Queensland.

This new allied quantum computing capacity will give those institutions unimagined leverage and global advantage.

More should have been made of this announcement and still needs to be, that and all sides of politics and levels of government need to champion this development and see it through to fruition.



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