Rene - Hi, welcome back to season six of QuBites, your bite-size, pieces of quantum computing. My name is Rene from Valorem Reply and today we're going to talk about quantum computing and the European Commission. And for this, I'm very honored to have a special expert guest from the European Commission today, Oscar Diez. Hi Oscar, welcome to the show. How are you today?
Oscar - Fine, thank you and thank you for inviting me.
Rene - Awesome, well thanks for being here. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background as it relates to quantum computing, High performance computing but also how you ended up at the European Commission.
Oscar - Yes, so basically my background is in computer science, so I did my PhD in computer science and ICE and I've been working most of my life in computer science. I moved to London to work in the European Medicine Agency and I've been there for a few years it was a European institution and later I moved into Europe. From there I moved to Luxembourg. That is what I am learning European Commission and there I'm working as a head of quantum computing and HPC , high-performance computing, and quantum technology unit here in the Luxembourg. I've been there first in the HPC area for around five years, four or five years. And now, the last few years I've been working in quantum technologies and more in quantum computing. But, we are basically taking care of all the pillars. What we call pillars in quantum computer in quantum technologies like it's quantum communication, quantum computing etc.
Rene - Gotcha, well that's quite a bit, and so let's actually dive right into this. What you're doing at the European Commission. So please tell us what the European Commission is doing in the field of quantum computing for supporting research and startups? And maybe you also have a recent example for us.
Oscar – So, we have been doing all this since a long time, so it's to be honest. I think it just started in 1999 and it was the first region in the world to launch a public program in quantum technologies later in 2016, basically the European researches around 4000 created and endorsed what was called, the Quantum manifesto that had basically started to define the strategy for temperatures in quantum and this basically was what enabled the creation of the quantum flux. That is the main problem that we are having now. It's a 10-year initiative we have budget of 1 billion. And basically, the aim of the flagship is not only to support research but also to transform the results of this research into industrial exploitation. Basically, in real life applications that can be used by all the citizens as I said. The flagship is a long term project, but basically we have just finished the first phase of the flagship. That it was from 18 to this year and we have very good results. In fact, the most successful for single European competing platforms started as project of the quantum flagship. It will be, for example, we have one project that is. called Pascal. That it is a French initiative and another one, another one that is called that is basically was a computing platform and this is also coming from one of the players that will have this. In this case. the company was created after this project, and they have compact and I end up quantum computer that especially in Austria and these are provided as standard two. I think it's 19 inch, so standard racks that can operate in this case for this computer. As the world record of full and tangle particles of qubits, I think with 24 when it was, I think it was this was at least 10 years ago and basically this was simply in this case they have really low power consumption. Around 1.5 facilities kilowatts. So it's basically the same energy as a boil. To boil a kettle. So we have, as I said, a lot in research, we have been promoting research technologies and we are also doing, but on deploying infrastructure this is different program you call it digital euro program. And here we have too many projects. One is CI and the one it's the quantum computing infrastructure. That is where we need together with the euro. HPC basically provides the infrastructure. In Europe and a lot, also for researchers to use this. And as part of this initiative, I think we announced it was a few weeks ago the selection of another six hosting entities that will deploy quantum computers integrated as part of the supercomputers based on different new technologies and the selection basically and the procurement processes. Similar to the one that we have used in the past with the supercomputers. Just to this is an example during the first part of the flagship. That is the 1st until now until 2022, just that we just finished. We created 25 spin offs and 25 laps and I think it was more than 100 patterns that we did, so there's a lot of things.
Rene - Yeah, well, that's already quite impressive what the European Commission is doing in that space, and especially like you're saying, like the funding is, I think a really important part to get the ground research going. And then, well, you can turn it into commercial offerings, of course, but yeah, I mean this is fantastic. So Quantum is a big opportunity, but we'll also fret when we think about Quantum computing and the security aspects of it. And you know things like Shor’s algorithm that will basically make today's cryptography. Like once we have powerful enough quantum computers and you run Shor’s algorithm, you can do prime number factorization for large prime numbers and your RSA and although today's encryption algorithm are basically obsolete at this point, when it happened right when once it happens, who knows when? Like I, I read a paper, it's the, experts say it's 5 to 40 years. Let's see when this will happen, but that's the least the course prediction right. So anyhow, what are your thoughts on this? And there's also the European Commission working on policies and regulations for the quantum computing.
Oscar - Yes, so, we were working on that. There are basically two. I think we are doing more or less similar actions to what other governments or leaders are doing. So that the city we’re working in two main 2 aspects. The first one is basically is the. Use of. Quantum cryptography, or, if you see, is working on new algorithms that will replace the 16 one and that are better prepared for these attacks by quantum computers. This is normally done by another, by another group that is working in standard security. And second activity is basically... so what we are doing is everything that is related to quantum communications. I think I have seen some of your previous podcast, and different people were talking about this topic on the communications basically. For example with the decoration of the development of quantum key distribution devices. And also we have deployment, as I said before, the deployment of infrastructure when the communication that this is a project that we are also doing here in the Commission. Basically, this is our secure quantum communication infrastructure that will expand the whole UK, and the idea is that it will include both at the racial segment that will be relying on fiber communications network. Basically, linking the different site, between borders across the level and also we will have as part of this, a space segment that will be based on satellites.
Rene - This is really interesting when you mentioned satellites and it also leads me to my second question. Well, you know, China, for example has already quantum key distribution satellite operational since July. At least this was in the news or August or something like this. So basically, this summer they got the first quantum key distribution satellite operational and apparently or testing and using it already, so this is really interesting. But what is the European Commission or what is Europe in general, like not just the Commission, but what do you think is the difference in terms of quantum computing if you compare it to other big governmental players that are active in quantum like the US and China and what is, you know, Europe doing differently and maybe better you know?
Oscar – Ok. So basically, as I said before, Europe has been funding, so we are very strong in infrastructure research. So we have been funding research in quantum technologies since a long time. We have extremely good researchers here. And as I said, not only quantum computing, quantum computing is one of the areas where we are doing research and we are very well positioned in certain technologies and working in here. I understand this is more about the quantum quantum computing, but we are also doing a lot of things, going to be commercialized, they have been commercialized now and they have really big impact of policies related to one communication. Also, we try to continue to do a lot of research on science and also the training, and creation of masters and basically the creation of the new quantum technologies especially in an area we have been used in a wider. So yes, so as you know, there are currently a lot of different technologies, especially at hardware level, and we are not sure with which we're going to be the winner of multiple hardware. So, we are working currently on the research on these platforms and we are also doing procurement of quantum computers, simulation infrastructure that basically we are doing, this is something that we have been also pushing a lot here in Europe, the integration with the HPC. So we believe basically that at least at the beginning, when the quantum computers will not replace the classical computers and we believe that the quantum computers will enhance the supercomputers of this classical computers providing speed up on some specific tasks that normally takes a lot of resources and understand that, and we see this kind of accelerators that could help to speed up some specific operations in order to reduce drastically here with what we are doing and we have kind of leaving this in the same way that has been doing with the supercomputers for Europe. The focus here is the whole quantum computing and the ecosystem. So not only the hardware, so not only integrated the at the hardware but also focusing on the software, on the APIs everything basically the quantum and classical computer. So, in this complete example, the one I was telling you, what we are doing is deploying infrastructure also. Doing the integration with the classical computers. Normally in this case, will be supercomputers. Also, we will complement with actions that are part of basically related to the skills and to the training of the workforce. We will also work on the creation of particular software specific use cases that will be interesting, like for example, efficiency, resource, efficiency of greenhouse gas emissions and I would like also to mention that one of the main issues in Europe, that is the lack of private funding for these initiatives compared to reducing the also that we are trying to sort it out.
Rene -Makes sense, makes a lot of sense. And well, you didn't mention in your intro that you're actually also an associate professor for HPC at the IE University Madrid, right? Like what do you teach those students actually about quantum computing?
Oscar – So, the course I teach is supercomputers & HPC. And basically, we focus on standard supercomputer technologies and basically parallel programming models. But as you know there is an issue now with what's called Moore's law aw and also the increased use of electricity by supercomputers, or staying up these supercomputers is starting to become very complicated. We managed to go into the exascale, excess scale area so one when that one flow, we're talking normally about 20 megawatts. That is a huge amount of electricity, you know. Now the electricity is the prices are pricing for all the issues and what we are now looking in the species and new technologies and new models. That is a very good option day in next feature, so my in my course basically at the end of the course we have. I think we have. 4 lectures - Future of HPC. In this module, in the first lecture, I think we talked about processor scale, scale and process scale, the new models that are coming also, we have a second topic. We have an introduction on neuromorphic computing. And then I will dedicate to relations, just to talk about quantum computing and integration with, basically, we explore these technologies, the platforms that are available so well it works and we have also small assignment to create and for that we are using our quantum inspired platform that works really well. So yeah, it's a very interesting topic.
Rene - Yep, Yep, it makes all sense. And like you're saying. I mean, quantum computing is very much related to HPC because it's an architectural specific design for solving specific problems, right? Like it's not going to replace the classical viewer because like it's non-deterministic. And so it's like, you know it's there's a bunch of things. But yeah, like you're saying quantum computers are great for very specific problems like these multidimensional problems that are exponentially growing and we just add another qubit as easy as it is. Add another qubit. You know you get another kind of exponential solving if you will. But anyhow, we're already at the end of the show. Thank you so much for sharing your insights today, that was very much appreciated.
Oscar - Thank you, thank you so much for the invitation.
Rene -Well and thanks everyone for joining us for yet another episode of QuBites, your bite-sized pieces of quantum computing. Watch our blog and follow our social media channels to hear all about the next episodes. And of course, subscribe to our YouTube channel. And if you want to watch all the previous episodes or the ones from the current season, you can watch all season 1 to season 6 on our website, of course. Until then, take care and see you soon. Bye bye.