Scientists warn of potential stagnation in economic growth due to the ‘quantum revolution’.
Scientists warn of potential stagnation in economic growth due to the 'quantum revolution'.
The Quantum Revolution: Preparing for the Future of Blockchain
Quantum computing technologies are slowly making their way out of the laboratory and into commercial industries. While it is uncertain when mainstream adoption will occur, numerous companies are currently engaged in experiments and trials with paying clients to develop quantum computing solutions. This represents a critical period where the world still has the opportunity to prepare itself for what researchers are calling “the quantum revolution.”
In a recently published commentary in the Nature journal, researchers Chander Velu and Fathiro Putra from the University of Cambridge and Bandung Institute of Technology, respectively, describe the “productivity paradox” and explain how the mainstream adoption of quantum computing could potentially slash economic growth for a decade or more. They state, “The digital revolution took decades and required businesses to replace expensive equipment and completely rethink how they operate. The quantum computing revolution could be much more painful.”
The productivity paradox is a business and finance term that explains why the introduction of new, better technology does not usually result in an immediate increase in productivity. This phenomenon can be observed in the nascent blockchain and cryptocurrency industries. As the requirements for mining increase, so do the costs associated with entering the space in any competitive capacity. Less than a decade ago, it was possible to mine cryptocurrency with a desktop PC’s spare compute power. However, as the rates of adoption have risen, corporate interests and the costs of entry have also increased.
Screenshot of chart showing mining hashrates over time on Blockchain.com
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Furthermore, fintech is one of the industries experts predict will experience immediate disruption from the quantum computing sector. It is likely that we will see direct integration with mining, blockchain, and cryptocurrency technologies as quantum computing progresses.
To understand the productivity paradox, the researchers cite a period from 1976 to 1990 when labor productivity growth slowed down significantly. This stagnation was mainly due to the global switch from paper to computers, which incurred costs associated with the transition, workforce retraining, and the creation of entirely new ecosystems and workflows. It was not until the mid-1990s that the integration was completed, and growth resumed.
The researchers foresee a similar predicament occurring as quantum computers transition from being on the fringes of usefulness to becoming a backbone technology for businesses. They identify two main roadblocks to a smooth transition: a lack of general understanding of the technology among leaders and risk aversion.
While businesses with clear use cases, such as shipping or pharmaceutical companies, may be quick to adopt quantum solutions, risk-averse businesses seeking immediate impact may be hesitant due to the rate of return. To address these concerns and accelerate the adoption of quantum computing, the researchers suggest a renewed focus from governments and researchers on illustrating the potential benefits of quantum computing. They also emphasize the need for the development of language and terminology to explain the necessary concepts to the business community and the general public.
The researchers conclude by stating that the first order of business when preparing for the quantum computing future is to ensure that the “quantum internet” is ready for secure networking. This highlights the importance of building a robust and secure infrastructure to support the widespread adoption of quantum technologies.
In conclusion, the blockchain industry, along with many other sectors, is on the brink of a quantum revolution. It is crucial to understand the potential challenges and opportunities that quantum computing presents. By learning from the past and addressing the productivity paradox, businesses and governments can navigate this new era successfully. The development of a quantum internet and the adoption of quantum solutions require collaboration, education, and a collective effort to embrace the quantum future.