Whurley Says Quantum Computing is the New Space Race

By Laura Lorek
Publisher of Silicon Hills News

Quantum computing, not Artificial Intelligence, is the space race of our generation, said William Hurley, known as Whurley.

Whurley, founder and CEO of Strangeworks, gave the keynote speech Tuesday afternoon at South by Southwest on “The Endless Impossibilities of Quantum Computing.” He pledged to keep the math slides to ten and the overall slideshow to around 110 slides.

“I am on a mission to humanize quantum computing,” he said.

It’s an incredibly complex topic and even though he’s been studying it for years Whurley said he’s no expert on the subject.

“This is very cutting-edge stuff and it’s supercool,” Whurley said.

This is less of a replacement of classical computing and more of an extension of its power, he said.

Overall, the field of quantum computing has seen tremendous growth over the last few years and the U.S. leads all other nations in the number of patents filed in the field with 295 patent applications filed in 2015, according to Whurley.

“When there is more open source of this technology, that’s when it’s going to take off and we will be seeing more of that in the next few years,” Whurley said.

The University of Texas has started a program to teach quantum computing and Texas A&M also has quantum computing experts, Whurley said. Other universities focused on quantum computing include the University of Waterloo, University of Maryland, Tokyo Institute of Technology, University of Oxford, MIT, Yale, Berkley and others.

Companies heavily involved in the quantum computing technology include D:Wave, IBM, Microsoft, Intel, Google and startups like Strangeworks, the company Whurley just launched in Austin. Other startups include Regitti, 1Qbit, QCWare and others.

Whurley said he doesn’t see the other startups as competitors but collaborators. They are all working together, he said.

To explain quantum mechanics to the audience, Whurley gave a brief history of the science including quantum mechanics, computer science and quantum information with an explanation of Schrodinger’s cat, a thought experiment created by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrodinger in 1935.

In one of the only SXSW keynote presentations to delve into algorithms and math, Whurley actually did math calculations on stage and ran through a series of formulas. The next slide read: TL:DR 3X5=15.

Whurley gave the audience of list of books at the end of his presentation to read more about the subject. He has also written a book “Quantum Computing for Babies.” He gave copies of the book to people in the audience who asked the best questions at the end of this presentation.

To celebrate all things Quantum computing and the launch of Strangeworks, Whurley held a party Tuesday night at the Container Bar on Rainey Street and Wu-Tang Clan showed up. During his keynote, Whurley joked that he couldn’t decide between Wu-Tang Clan or Stephen Wolfram, Founder & CEO of Wolfram Research, to do the audio version of his children’s book.

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