Open Source, Emerging Standards, and Quantum Computing: Evangelizing the Future

October 23, 2017

Hear whurley, Managing Director at Goldman Sachs, speak at the Open Source Strategy Forum at the BNY Mellon Conference Center on November 8.

These days, I spend the majority of my time focusing on my current passion: quantum computing. For those of you unfamiliar with the subject, Wikipedia says:

Quantum computing studies theoretical computation systems (quantum computers) that make direct use of quantum-mechanical phenomena, such as superposition and entanglement, to perform operations on data. Quantum computers are different from binary digital electronic computers based on transistors.

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I like to explain it a little differently. In my new book, Endless Impossibilities: Understanding and Preparing for the Coming Age of Quantum Computing (Mar 2018 release), I discuss how this technology will revolutionize the world of big data, medicine, geoengineering, finance, and much more. It’s critical that we have a strong open source movement so this incredible technology will be democratized as much as possible.

Take finance, for example. Quantum computers are going to disrupt the financial industry in a number of ways. Quantum computers can run more powerful algorithms and analyze vastly larger data sets than their classical predecessors. That means they can break current encryption schemes.  They can increase the speed, precision, volume, and accuracy of high-speed trading.  They can automatically detect more sophisticated patterns of fraud, and will help power the artificial intelligence that will learn to identify and prevent new forms of fraud as they emerge.     

Currently it’s impossible to identify the optimum portfolio for a given set of conditions. Even if you were to limit yourself to the S&P 500, there are still too many combinations for classical computers to analyze.  A robust quantum computer with just 50 qubits could do it in a matter of minutes.  These things are all possible.  The potential is there.

You can see why I’ve become an evangelist. I’m working on the book. (Don’t let anybody tell you that books are easy.  They’re painful. They’re not labors of love, but insanity.) I’m working on the “IEEE P7130™—Standard for Quantum Computing Definitions” project that I helped start with IBM, 1Qbit, and Professor Hidetoshi Nishimori (Tokyo Institute of Technology). We’re helping create a common language in the field and drive innovation (I hope). And I’m always working on new content for my blog (, which covers my speaking engagements, current events in quantum computing, and other related topics.

I also take the opportunities that come my way to spread the good news of quantum computing at conferences and events all over the world.  I meet regularly with members of the open source community, mostly about an unreleased quantum computing initiative that I’m hoping will be announced by the time we all meet up at OSSF. (Fingers crossed!)

Hear whurley speak at the Open Source Strategy Forum!