A fascinating study has been published by the Global Risk Institute. It was created by Dr. Michele Mosca and Dr. Marco Piani of evolutionQ and is an update to a study published a year ago that surveyed noted academics and researchers on when they predict a quantum computer would be available that could factor a 2048 bit number and break the RSA encryption code. The 2019 study asked 22 researchers to estimate the likelihood that such a powerful quantum computer would appear within timeframes of 5, 10, 15, 20, and 30 years. The 2020 study expanded the experts survey to 44 respondents from 14 different countries and included additional questions on the expected level of funding for quantum research as well as the impact that Covid-19 has had on quantum research. We will summarize a few of the conclusions in this rest of this article and provide a link to the full report below.

To start, the survey asked the experts their assessment of the likelihood a quantum computer could factor a 2048 bit number within a 24 hour time period versus the time frame. The graph below shows the percentage of experts who assessed the likelihood to be 50% or greater in both the 2019 study and the 2020 study. The results are similar with the 2020 survey being slightly higher in the 10-15 year periods. But that is probably due to the fact that the industry has just completed one more year of development.

Other questions posted included getting the experts opinions on ranking different implementation technologies by their potential to realize a digital quantum computer with 100 qubits within the next 15 years. The ranking for the technologies based upon the number of times the technology was called out as the first or second choice is shown below. The superconducting and trapped ion technologies were ranked far ahead of the others.

  1. Superconducting
  2. Trapped Ions
  3. Quantum Optics
  4. Spin Systems in Silicon
  5. Spin Systems Not in Silicon
  6. Cold Atoms
  7. Other
  8. Topological

Another interesting survey topic was their expectation on whether the level of funding from government and industry would increase, stay the same, or decrease within the next two years. Based upon the responses below, there does not seem to be any likelihood of a quantum winter in the next couple of years.

Significant Increase23%
Not Specified2%

The full report is 52 pages and provides a ton of data analyzed in many different ways. In addition, it contains many qualitative comments from the respondents that we think you would find interesting. Readers interested in understanding the views of these quantum thought leaders can download the full 2020 report available on the Global Risk Institute website. In addition, the original 2019 report is also available on the Global Risk website and you can find it here.

February 11, 2021