AI Meets Quantum: The AQ Era is Here

April 14, 2022

AI has transformed sector after sector in our economy. From medical imaging analysis and inventory management to customer service chatbots and machine vision in factories, AI is transforming entire industries.

The newest AI models can produce human-like prose,  predict social behaviors and sentiments and recognize and infer the purpose and context of real-world objects.  AI still has limitations – it is constrained by the massive amounts of clean, normalized and unbiased training data needed and high-performance computing power available – but new, better trained, more powerful models are emerging, month after month.

Looking over the horizon, it’s increasingly clear that quantum technologies are going to be among the next significant, planetary-scale technological revolutions.  Over the next few years, we’ll start to see entire industries transformed by quantum tech.

What is quantum technology? It is not just quantum computing (QC).  While the popular press has focused mainly on QC, computing is only a small part of the quantum tech revolution that is now underway.  Quantum sensing, quantum-safe communications and quantum simulation are three additional areas of tech that are more near term than QC and will impact our society in many ways.

In fact, without thinking of them as such, for decades we have enjoyed the benefits of a growing set of useful technologies rooted in the insights of quantum mechanics – examples include transistors, lasers and MRI scanners - each of these technologies has greatly impacted us in positive ways.  

Until very recently, however, many of these quantum technologies could not practically be realized as usable tools or products, in large part because they generated so much data that conventional computing infrastructure struggled to make sense of it all.  And that’s where the last decade’s dramatic advances in AI tools have shifted the landscape.  By combining quantum tech with AI, amazing – and now practical – new products and services can be delivered.  For example, quantum sensors bring us into realms of sensitivity far beyond classical sensors, but only with powerful AI models can we pull the signal out from the cacophony of output they create.   Together, the effects of these two technologies are seismic -- enabling us to envision, achieve, comprehend and analyze business data and external stimuli in ways we never could contemplate before.  

This is AQ: the new era of AI and Quantum Tech working in tandem.

Although fault-tolerant quantum computing hardware is still years away, there are many aspects of quantum physics and technology that can be commercialized in the near term with no need for quantum computers.  For example, we have found a way to simulate quantum dynamics using today’s high-performance computers. The resulting quantum simulations  can address real-world business and scientific challenges across a broad spectrum of industries – from financial services and healthcare to aerospace and manufacturing to communications and materials science.

We formed Sandbox AQ to produce platforms that solve hard problems using both AI and quantum technologies.

For instance, it is well-established that quantum hardware will one day crack today’s ubiquitous RSA cryptography in a matter of seconds. RSA is the most widely-used algorithm for public key cryptography and it is used for thousands of applications from ecommerce, online banking, secure communications and more. But quantum hardware will render it obsolete, exposing all our data, communications, networks, critical infrastructure and personal information. In anticipation, adversaries are already employing SNDL (steal now, decrypt later) tactics, acquiring sensitive data today that can be decrypted later by quantum computers. Sandbox AQ is working with companies like Softbank Mobile, Vodafone Business, Mt. Sinai Health System and other large enterprises to counter this threat by implementing post-quantum cryptography (PQC) algorithms to protect their networks.  But the new PQC protocols offer a toolbox of protocols, not just one protocol to replace RSA.  AI can serve a key role in choosing which encryption protocol is best suited for each context.

Beyond PQC, the twin capabilities of quantum physics and AI will enable everything from detecting the most minute variations in the human heartbeat to solving large-scale crises like climate change – and we can do it all right now without quantum computers. The effects of AQ will run wide and deep, but these exciting breakthroughs won’t just happen on their own. It’s essential that organizations start laying the foundation for their future success with quantum today. Classical physics already revolutionized every industry over a century ago like medicine, finance and materials, and with AI, Quantum Physics will revolutionize each industry again.

As one of the first companies to bring commercial quantum applications to market, we are excited about the potential of AQ.  We encourage you to explore how AQ can elevate your business strategies, accelerate product design, and solve hard problems.  We also invite individuals to explore careers in the new AQ era:  our ambition is to have a big impact on the world.

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