The Birth of Quantum Computing [chapter]

2021 Law and Policy for the Quantum Age  
The Birth of Quantum Computing I n the 1940s England used its first electronic computers to crack enemy codes, while the US used its computers to perform computations for nuclear physics. Eight decades later, these same two applications are driving interest and investment in quantum computing. If the effort to build large-scale quantum computers is successful, these machines will surely be used to crack codes and model physics. But just as electronic computers eventually had many more
more » ... ns than dreamed of in the 1940s, quantum computers will, in all likelihood, find work solving problems that are not even contemplated today. This is the first of three chapters on quantum computing. We discuss this history in some depth in order to provide an intellectual foundation for understanding both how different quantum computers are from classical computers, and for helping readers to form an appreciation of just how early we are in the development of these machines. This appreciation will be relevant when we review policy issues in Chapter 8 and Chapter 9. This chapter is based on both bibliographic research and interviews conducted with many quantum computing pioneers. Readers uninterested in this history can skip to Chapter 6, where we discuss the applications of quantum computing likely to be seen in the near future, the different kinds of quantum computers currently under development, the challenges facing the field, and the more distant future outlook for the technology.
doi:10.1017/9781108883719.008 fatcat:qeesind6ofbtflvrr2dftgl334