Scientists warn that the “quantum revolution” could lead to stagnant economic growth


Quantum computing technologies are slowly beginning to seep out of the laboratory environment into commercial industries. While it remains to be seen when mainstream adoption will occur, a number of companies are currently participating in trials and experiments with paying customers developing quantum computing solutions.

According to a pair of researchers from the University of Cambridge and the Bandung Institute of Technology, respectively, this marks a critical period when the world still has a chance to prepare itself for what they consider the “quantum revolution.”

In a commentary recently published in the journal Nature, researchers Chander Velu and Fathiro Putra describe the “productivity paradox” and explain how mainstream adoption of quantum computing could dampen economic growth for a decade or more.

According to their comment:

“The digital revolution took decades and required companies to replace expensive equipment and completely rethink how they operate. The quantum computing revolution could be much more painful.”

The productivity paradox is a business and financial term that explains why the introduction of new, better technology usually does not lead to an immediate increase in productivity.

We’ve seen this in almost every aspect of the emerging blockchain and cryptocurrency industries. As mining requirements increase, for example, so do the costs associated with entering space with any competitiveness.

Less than a decade ago, it was fashionable to mine cryptocurrency using the backup computing of a desktop computer. As adoption rates have risen, so have corporate interests and entry costs.

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Screenshot of a graph showing hash mining over time on

And since fintech is one industry that experts predict will experience immediate disruption from the quantum computing sector, we are likely to see direct integration with mining technologies, blockchain, and cryptocurrency immediately.

Related: Researchers demonstrate ‘unconditionally secure’ quantum digital payments

To explain the productivity paradox, the researchers cite a period from 1976 through 1990 in which the growth of labor productivity—a measure of how productive individuals are at work over time—slowed to a crawl. The reason for this stagnation was the beginning of the computer age.

Essentially, the costs associated with the global switch from paper to computers combined with the need to retrain the entire workforce and create entire solution ecosystems and workflows halted the growth trend until integration was finally completed during the mid-1990s.

Researchers see a similar pitfall that occurs when quantum computers go from refining utility to becoming, potentially, the backbone technology of business.

The two main obstacles to a smooth transition to the quantum age, according to the researchers, are a lack of general understanding of the technology among leaders and risk aversion.

While companies with a clear use case, such as shipping or pharmaceutical companies, may be quick to adopt quantitative solutions, the rate of return may not appeal to companies that are risk averse and looking for immediate impact.

To alleviate these concerns and accelerate the adoption of quantum computing, the researchers suggest a renewed focus from governments and researchers on articulating the potential benefits of quantum computing and developing language and terminology to explain the concepts necessary to the business community and the general public. .

The researchers concluded by saying that the first order of business when it comes to preparing for the future of quantum computing is making sure that the “quantum internet” is ready for secure networks.