# How quantum computing will impact the future of cities

IN BRIEF

- 4:12 â The impact of optimization: âThe big three with quantum computing are optimization, machine learning and simulation. All three of these will apply to cities in the future, and the one that will have the most immediate impact is optimization.â
- 5:40 â Smart cities on steroids: âTo me, a smart city is not really a smart city unless it has perfect efficiency and thatâs what quantum can deliver over a classical machine. Whenever quantum proves an advantage in an area, itâll take off.â
- 9:30 â Quantum timelines: âAround 2023, I imagine there will be a headline-generating headline every week because of quantum. By 2024 weâll start to see more interconnect and the ability to link quantum computers together. Theyâll act like one machine and that will be incredibly powerful."

Quantum-inspired algorithms could bring innovative solutions and approaches to product development, reduce time to market, optimize customer delivery, and speed up data transfers. But what impact could quantum have on the future of cities around the world? For that, Joe Kornik, Editor-in-Chief of *VISION by Protiviti*, interviews a quantum expert, Konstantinos Karagiannis. Konstantinos is an Associate Director with Quantum Computing Services at Protiviti and he also hosts *The Post-Quantum World* podcast. Watch the interview above.

## HOW QUANTUM COMPUTING WILL IMPACT THE FUTURE OF CITIES - Video transcript

**Joe Kornik: **Welcome to theÂ *VISION by ProtivitiÂ *interview. Iâm Joe Kornik, Director of Brand Publishing and Editor-in-Chief ofÂ *VISION by Protiviti*, our new quarterly content initiative where we put megatrends under the microscope and look far into the future to examine the strategic implications of big topics that will impact the C-Suite and executive boardrooms worldwide. In this, our first topic, The Future of Cities, weâre exploring the evolution urban areas are undergoing post-COVID and how those changes will alter cities over the next decade and beyond.

Weâve got a good one for you today as Iâm joined by Konstantinos Karagiannis, Associate Director of Quantum Computing Services for Protiviti. When we talk about how technology will impact the future of cities, we certainly need to include quantum computing in that equation. Simply put, quantum would enable problem-solving capabilities, involving a number of variables and potential outcomes at amazing speeds not attainable with conventional computers. Quantum-inspired algorithms could bring innovative solutions and approaches to product development, reduce time to market, optimize customer delivery, and speed up data transfers, but what impact could it have on the future of cities around the world? For that, Iâm bringing in our expert, Konstantinos Karagiannis. Konstantinos also hostsÂ The Post-Quantum WorldÂ Podcast. Thanks so much for being here, Konstantinos.

**Konstantinos Karagiannis:Â **Yes, thanks for having me.

**Kornik:Â **Okay, so this is a big topic. Letâs level set for just a minute if we could. Weâve sort of been hearing a lot about quantum computing for a few years now, so what is it? Where are we in sort of the maturation stage and how far have we come to this point?

**Karagiannis:Â **Yes, so quantum computing uses the mysterious nature of quantum mechanics to deal with a type of computing that was never possible before. Quantum computing is not just about building a computer thatâs faster, but itâs also about building a computer that does things in an entirely different way. Most people are familiar with classical computing where you have binary, thatâs zeroes and ones, that allow computation. In quantum computing, we have something known as a quantum bit, which, thanks to superposition, can be both zero and one at the same time, and it sounds weird. It doesnât sound like a big deal, but with the right algorithms written to take advantage that, you can do things that have been impossible in the past or will become impossible just because of size. So dealing with a lot of data is a lot easier for a quantum computer. A classical computer, every time you try to improve it, itâs a very linear progression. People now look at Mooreâs law. Classical computers get more powerful every couple of years or so. They double every couple of years or so. Quantum computers though, if you just added one of those quantum bits I told you about, youâve just doubled the power of the machine, just to give you an idea how those things get explosively powerful over time.

Weâre still a little bit in the early days as far as maturation. We havenât been able to prove a usable quantum advantage just yet, but weâre on the cusp. In fact, it could come as soon as this year that weâll be able to prove some practical application that is just done better by a quantum computer even today, even with the machines we have now. Whatâs next would be taking these machines and making them even better, and we have plenty to discuss about that today, Iâm sure. [Laughter]

**Kornik:Â **Okay, so when we talk about cities specifically, where do you the see the biggest benefits of quantum computing as it relates to cities?

**Karagiannis:Â Y**es. So, those algorithms I told you about, that if you have them, just take advantage of the machine, theyâre going to allow some pretty impressive things to happen on the space of cities. The big three with quantum computing is basically anything involving optimization, anything involving machine learning, or anything involving simulation, and all three of these things apply to the cities. The biggest one weâre going to see first would be optimization, because thereâs a type a quantum computer called an annealer, and there are certain types of problems already that if you apply an annealer to them with a little bit of classical assistance, so you sort of have like classical computers doing some of it and an annealer doing the quantum part, weâre already starting to see things that are approaching advantage.

For example, you can do an experiment where letâs say you have a city that has had some kind of catastrophe and they need to distribute goods to multiple locations in the most efficient way, weâve already seen experimentation done on D-Waveâs hybrid system where a classical machine learning algorithm would try and find the best approach to deliver those goods, and it would take, letâs say, 27 miles of driving to get them to all the locations, and then the quantum computer was able to figure out paths, timing and everything to do it in only 20 miles of driving. So, from 27 miles to 20 miles, thatâs pretty decent, and you can imagine how that would start to explode if you add in more variables, like weather or avoid this street because of crime or whatever. Quantum computers just do really, really well at handling larger and larger amounts of data, so we expect this type of thing to hit all avenues of smart cities, all types of planning with optimization. Just regular delivery routes, the classical traveling salesman problem people probably have heard about. Itâs this idea of true efficiency, and to me, a smart city is not a smart city if it doesnât have a perfect efficiency, right, and it just becomes a complicated mess with traffic jams and all sorts of things like that.

Then, you move on to the pure machine learning side. Anywhere the machine learning is sort of touch a smart city, it will just be better with quantum given time. Weâve already seen the extrapolation of this happening, so anytime youâre trying to make intelligent decisions or automate processes, youâll find that a quantum computer will be able to do things in thousandths of the time that it would take a classical machine, and then eventually gets even more exaggerated. Whatâs fascinating is this isnât going to be like a neck-and-neck arms race with classical and quantum. Whenever quantum proves advantage in an area, that will be it. It will be almost like a straight line up if you think about graphing its performance. Itâll never be like classical could catch up again. Just add one qubit and youâve doubled the system, et cetera, so over a course of a few years, quantum computers are going to seem to be practically [Laughter] magical at the things that they excel at.

Then, on the simulation side too, we see massive impacts of that affecting cities. Youâll be able to do simulations about risks, simulations about how things will literally go, building materials can be improved by simulating which types of molecules handle stresses better. Basically, anything where you want to try and make a guess about how a certain flow on any given day will be, and in the numerous intricacies in the city, quantum machine learning algorithm would just be much, much better.

**Kornik:**Â Iâve read quite a little bit about this quantum apocalypse thatâs coming. I guess that means the day when quantum computers will be able to crack encryption, which certainly sounds bad. I know on the smart city side, thereâs quite a few concerns around cybersecurity, but I would imagine that this is sort of on steroids. So, tell us a little bit about that, the quantum apocalypse, and tell us how bad could that be and what could it mean for cities, and what can be done about it.

**Karagiannis:Â **Yes. Way back in 1994, Peter Shor, a mathematician, came up with an algorithm that showed that weâd be able to reverse two very large numbers that were used to make an even larger number, which is basically the secret behind RSA, another type of public key encryption, like elliptic curve. So, once a quantum computer gets powerful enough, which could be five years awayâit also depends on, like, if we can link them together, sometimes it might be able to do work more efficiently in the future, it remains to be seen. So, when that happens, all the old ciphers, because of this algorithm, will be able to be sliced apart. This will affect Bitcoin too, and other cryptocurrencies.

So, for a smart city to excel, it would have to build on what we call post-quantum cryptography. NIST is currently working on new math-based ciphers that could replace RSA. Within three years or so, we expect to have fully approved and vetted new ciphers that can be put in place to avoid that quantum apocalypse. So, building a smart city, it would be smart to already consider from now having the crypto agility needed to build those ciphers in.

**Kornik:**Â Yes, interesting. A couple of timeframes there, you mentioned a few years out from that. The speed of all of thisâI mean, it seems a little mind-blowing, to me at least, a mere mortal. [Laughter] Can you put together sort of a timeline short-term of where weâll be maybe in a few years in terms of quantum computing in cities? I mean, I know this is a little bit of a riskier proposition when talking about something that moves at the speed of quantum, but can you even hazard to guess as to what could be possible, say, a decade from now?

**Karagiannis:Â **Yes, absolutely. I talk about quantum timelines all the [Laughter] time with our customers. Some of them are concerned just about the crypto apocalypse we were talking about, so for them, the timeline is like just from now start looking at being able to adapt to have these new post-quantum solutions in place, but in general, theyâre also concerned about how soon they can see real benefit with quantum. So, this is kind of how I see the timeline from whatâthese arenât even just guesses. This is sort of like based on roadmaps and things from the people making the machines themselves. Within this year to next year, weâre going to actually see true quantum advantage in areas of optimization because of the amazing work being done with annealers, so that type of quantum computers are already getting pretty mature. It can only solve certain types of problems, but when mapped correctly, weâre already seeingâweâre just about there.

For example, like we could do portfolio optimization now where if we were picking how to invest money, it might not be as accurate as classical, but it will be literally 1,000 times faster, so once we tweak the accuracy, we have the advantage. Thereâs all sorts of little tweaks and things like that that have to be made, so weâre going to see that with smart cities, too. If anyone wants to apply optimization back to any kind of NP hard type of problem, like a traveling salesman going everywhere without repeating your steps, weâre going to see advantage in that area within a year. So, this is the beginnings of the benefit to a smart city, and itâs already here. About two years from now in 2023, we expect to see multiple 1,000 qubit and up machines, and those are going to start to do really amazing things. The other type of quantum computing are gate-based, so thatâs where youâre going to see explosive benefits to doing quantum machine learning, quantum simulation like I talked about. Thatâs really exciting, how close that is. Around 2023, I imagine thereâs going to be a headline-generating paper almost every week, [Laughter] talking about how now we can do things so much better than we did before. Thatâs just 2023. Then by 2024, weâll start seeing more interconnects and links, and the ability to connect quantum computers together to have them behave as if they were one machine.

So, itâs not like when youâre trying to do grid computing now that youâre doing a little piece of a problem, and then sending the answer. Youâll almost be able to think of all of them as one machine, kind of sending calculations and progress over special connections for this quantum sort of internet. Thatâs really, really soon. In 2024 and 2025, we should start seeing explosive growth in the power of the machines because of that interconnect capability. Then, as far as a decade goes, I would sayâI mean, Google has already announced that they plan on having fully error-free quantum computers by 2029, so thatâs definitely within the decade. Once that happens, quantum computing, there arenât even have to be any technical hurdles really to making it work. Itâll sort of be like, âIs it a type of problem that quantum is better at?â You just effortlessly encode it and really make it run. It should be quite an amazing time. The interfaces for programming are getting better too, so I can see that within a couple of years, it will be possible to just apply quantum in multiple areas without having to build it from the ground up [Laughter] every single time. This is really the most exciting time. Thatâs why weâre putting so much focus on it here at Protiviti.

**Kornik:Â **Right. Will we see like actualâlike when we move around a city in 2030, will we have noticeable differences or will it be so baked in to sort of everything thatâs happening around us that we wonât be able to see it in action?

**Karagiannis:Â **Yes, because of the areas that it touches are going to make the big changes themselves, I donât know if people will be aware of whatâs happening. I mean, we all see how machine learning, AI, in general, has made life a lot easier. Theyâre going to notice that AI, all of a sudden, magically got a whole lot better, [Laughter] practically overnight in some areas. I donât know how aware people are of this all the time, but anything that they thought that AI was doing a decent job at, all of a sudden itâs going to be doing a really great job at, so that could impact everything from like autonomous vehicles âtheyâll just have that better sort of grid back-up or brain that is giving them the extra information they need to make better decisions. A city will be more hyperaware of these cars that are moving through it, for example. It will be able to give more real-time feedback and make predictions about where a car will be in a few moments and plan for it. So, quantum might make possible those terrifying images you see of cars shooting through intersections without any traffic lights because theyâre all autonomous and slicing the neck out of each other. As much as I love this technology, I donât know if I want to be in one of those cars. [Laughter]

**Kornik:**Â Yes, itâs going to be interesting to say the least. Konstantinos, before I let you go, can you tell us a little bit more about the Post-Quantum podcast that you recently launched?

**Karagiannis:Â **Yes.

**Kornik:Â **Where can people find it and what can they expect from it?

**Karagiannis:Â **Yes, itâs on all the platforms. You could just searchÂ The Post-Quantum World. Every episode, I talk to a company, a representative, a researcher, someone who is having a big impact on quantum today. Weâve already had some of the big machine makers, like Honeywell, weâve had Microsoft who has their Azure Quantum platform where people could code, so it has a business focus too. Anyone who listens to it is going to hear about technology, whatâs emerging and what's new, but also what it means to them, what itâs going to mean toâin the case of Bitcoin, like what it would mean to basicallyâand what if cryptocurrency was cracked by quantum computer and everything to, âHey, what are the use cases? What are the things that my company can start getting benefits from immediately or in the near term? We try to cover it all and make it somewhat understandable. [Laughter]

**Kornik:**Â Yes, Iâve given it a listen. Itâs fascinating stuff. Thank you so much for your time today. Konstantinos Karagiannis, our Associate Director of Quantum Computing Services for Protiviti where heâs out there fighting the fight and helping our clients on a day-in, day-out basis to face the future with confidence.

**Karagiannis:Â **Thanks.

**Kornik:Â **Thanks, Konstantinos.

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