I hear a lot of people saying it’s way too early to start standardizing this technology that is still under development, but I’d rather we start early and define a common language so that once the technology is mature enough, we already speak the same language and we can define the concrete standards. I like what NIST is putting together, mapping the standard-level readiness with the technology-level readiness levels of TRL, with their SRL. And if we look at quantum computing, we are at the level of commercial prototypes.
We’re not in implementation in the field yet at scale, but we’re still pretty advanced. And if you’re looking at the scale that NIST has put together, we’re already defining the terminology of quantum computing, the vocabulary: What is a qubit? What is a quantum computer? What is a quantum simulator? What is a simulation? There is a huge confusion, and when I go to Europe or I speak to people in the U.S., we don’t have the same definition of simulation.
This is already the time to set what is what, and then we can define the functional description of different pieces of a quantum computer: What are the commonalities between the different modalities? The different superconducting qubits do not operate the same way as neutral-atom qubits, and we don’t use the same protocols the same way. How do we benchmark? Should we benchmark against the hardware, or against the application? There are debates like this to discuss now with the experts. The benefits — first is to speak the same language amongst the community. And that’s an effort that should be international, that should be with all the experts in the field. And you see already some interesting play between different countries or different experts.
For us, PASQAL, we’re developing neutral-atom quantum computers. That is not the mainstream, so we want to make sure that if standards are adopted and they do not reflect the type of technology that we develop, we don’t want to be forced to adopt a standard that does not correspond to the technology we have. A standard eventually is a stamp, a proof, that we were delivering something interesting for the market. And if we cannot have proof that, yes, this is a real quantum computer, or this functions this way and this way, and we cannot benchmark against something that is adopted in the community, it’s not helping us. We’re making sure that our technology is well represented while it is so early-stage in the development of standards. That’s why we’re part of this effort at the European level and at IEEE.