India’s National Quantum Mission (NQM), worth INR 6000 crore, is a strategic initiative launched by the Government of India. It aims to “seed, nurture and scale up scientific and industrial R&D and create a vibrant & innovative ecosystem in Quantum Technology (QT)” from 2023-24 to 2030-31. The NQM is poised to create a comprehensive quantum technology ecosystem in India, including research and development, education and training, and industry partnerships in a shared space of mutual innovation and efficiency. This ecosystem will be able to support the development of quantum computing hardware and software, as well as advancement of quantum applications in various industries and sectors.
3 pillars of accelerating AI/ML initiatives
One of the underlying goals of the NQM is to leverage the power of quantum computing in accelerating adoption of transformative technologies – such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). While the need for AI/ML has already been established within India Inc., quantum computing can boost the efficiency and accuracy of AI/ML technologies to a globally competitive level.
The integration of quantum-inspired algorithms with AI/ML techniques can be one of the first ways to change the way we look at AI/ML applications. Such algorithms are inspired by quantum principles but designed to run on classical computers. These quantum-inspired algorithms can then solve certain problems much faster than classical algorithms, making them ideal for designing and developing AI/ML applications more quickly and efficiently. It can lead to breakthroughs in fields such as drug discovery, material science and optimization problems, to name a few.
With the NQM aiming to rapidly scale India’s self-reliance on quantum technologies, development and production of homegrown quantum computing hardware is another pillar holding up India’s quantum technology ecosystem. Analogous to bits in classical computing, are the qubits in quantum computing. The number of qubits speed up the processing in a quantum computer, and like before with classical computing, research and development costs in the field can go a long way to develop faster quantum computing hardware. As quantum computing is still in its early stages, the development of practical, reliable, and accessible quantum computing hardware poses a significant challenge. However, investing in building such a future can prove beneficial for unlocking the next generation of AI and ML models.
Another pillar that is necessary to uphold India’s quantum technology ecosystem is the development of quantum computing talent via NQM. This goes hand in hand with the focus on R&D in this space. Grants, scholarships and even collaboration with universities and other institutions will accelerate the quantum computing workforce in the country and will pave the way for a robust ecosystem. Enabled by knowledge sharing, joint research projects and even international technology exchange, quantum computers can advance development in the field of AI by leaps and bounds.
Quantum-led industry AI use cases
As the technology in this space progresses, industries will take more and more interest in quantum computing which will result in positive feedback in advancing the same. There are enough commercial use cases for leading companies to take an interest in this field, with some industries already using quantum computing to solve various use cases.
- Finance: Portfolio optimization, asset pricing, risk analysis, fraud detection, market predictions.
- Insurance: Valuation of financial instruments (bonds, derivatives); valuation of options and guarantees on insurance products; quantifying operational risk
- Manufacturing: Chip layout optimization in semiconductors, material development and explorations, fault-analysis, chemical and pharma research
- Logistics: Transportation route optimization, scheduling, product distribution
- Other uses: Encryption, AI, search optimization, online marketing
Navigation systems, precision clocks, magnetic and other sensors, satellite-based communications can all be designed using quantum technology taking our country one step ahead in infrastructure, defense, communications, and space travel.
Given that India is only the sixth country to have a national quantum mission, NQM will help establish India’s technological prowess in the quantum computing field. With companies taking commercial interest, it is safe to say that this investment might pay off significant dividends in the field of AI/ML adoption in the long run.
-Prashanth Kaddi, Partner, Consulting, Deloitte India; Raghu A, Director, Consulting, Deloitte India and Niharika Verma, Senior Consultant, Consulting, Deloitte India