Bill Gates Says He Doesn’t Understand Quantum Computing, And That’s A Big Problem

Published by whurley (01/23/2018)

There’s a Huge Elephant in the Room We Need to Discuss

First off, I somehow missed this story last fall. My fault. I should have been on top of things.  Apparently back in September, Bill Gates and Satya Nadella gave a joint interview to Wall Street Journal Magazine. The headline CNBC (and others) took away from the interview was “Bill Gates Admits Quantum Computing Leaves Him Baffled.” I checked twice; it’s not from the Onion. In the same interview, when asked if he could explain quantum computing in one sentence, Nadella responded “I don’t think so. I wish I could.”

Are you f@#&ing kidding me? The founder of Microsoft and archetypal über-nerd, who in his own words knows “a lot of physics and a lot of math,” says he doesn’t understand quantum computing? Look, Bill Gates is nothing short of a genius. Having met Satya Nadella, I can say he sure seems pretty damn smart. So here we have two clearly brilliant people who helm a seminal company that is betting big on a quantum future. One doesn’t really get quantum computing, and the other can’t really explain it in a sentence?

If we’re going to build quantum computing into a multibillion-dollar industry, we’re going to have to make it understandable and accessible. We’re going to have to be able to explain it in a sentence, and people with far less experience than Mr. Gates have to be able to grok it.

Sweet Mystifying Child O’ Mine

I don’t know about you, but I hear Axl crooning, “Where do we go? Where do we go now?”  I’m picturing now Axl, though.

I’m calling on leaders in quantum computing to start an open conversation to address this issue. Let’s work this like the IEEE Quantum Computing Working Group, but informally. We can bring together the right people to help represent quantum computing to the masses, investors, and customers. I’m not one to just sit and bitch, so I’ll reach out to the friends of and others in the industry and start the conversation. Right here, on this blog, out in the open.

All I ask is that each of you help drive the conversation to effectively share this technology we all love. Failure will result in a longer adoption cycle and potentially delay the development of some of the enabling tools and technologies we need to build the industry around.