Harnessing Quantum Potential: Government and Technology Investments for Tomorrow

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Quantum computing is emerging as a groundbreaking force with the potential to reshape industries and enhance national security with unparalleled speed and precision. Governments and technology providers worldwide are heavily investing in this transformative technology, which promises significant advancements in areas such as cryptography, drug development, AI, and finance. Countries like Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, Qatar, and the UK are investing heavily in quantum research, backed by tech giants like Nvidia, IBM, and Google.

Ecosystm research finds that nearly 30% of enterprises are expecting to use quantum computing in the next 5 years.

Beyond Bits: Exploring the Potential of Quantum Computers

We need quantum computers because they have the potential to solve certain problems that are impossible (or impractical) for classical computers. Last year, Google led a study revealing that its quantum processor can complete a task in 6.18 seconds that would take a traditional supercomputer 47 years.

Here are a few reasons why quantum computing is exciting:

Unleashing the power of qubits. While classical computers use bits that can be either 0 or 1, quantum computers use qubits, which can exist in both states simultaneously (a state called superposition). This allows them to explore multiple possibilities simultaneously, making them significantly faster for specific tasks.

Tackling complex problems. Problems like simulating molecules or breaking complex encryption codes involve massive calculations. Quantum computers, with their unique properties, can manage these complexities more efficiently.

Revolutionising specific fields. Quantum computing has the potential to transform areas such as materials science, drug discovery, AI, and financial modelling. By simulating complex systems and processes, they could lead to breakthroughs in various sectors.

Quantum computers will not replace traditional computers entirely, but rather function as powerful tools for specific tasks beyond the reach of classical machines. Let’s look at cybersecurity as an example.

Twenty years ago, hacking was a basic task. Imagine a time before social media, when a simple computer and basic technical know-how were enough to breach a network. The stakes were low, the landscape uncomplicated. But technology, like threats, has evolved. Today’s hackers use sophisticated techniques, employing strategies like “harvest now, decrypt later” – stealing data today to decrypt later using more powerful machines. This is where quantum computing enters the scene, posing a significant threat to current encryption methods. In response, tech giants like Google, Apple, and Zoom are implementing quantum-resistant encryption into their software, safeguarding user data from potential future decryption attempts. Governments and telecommunication providers worldwide are boosting quantum encryption to tackle the potential security crisis.

The thrill of quantum computing lies in its infancy. Unforeseen applications, beyond our current imagination, could be unlocked as the technology matures.

Current Quantum Projects Focused on Security

First Scalable Network Secures Maritime Trade. The Netherlands is improving the resiliency of transport infrastructure in their own major international maritime hub, using quantum. The Port of Rotterdam Authority joined a collection of quantum technology firms to create a comprehensive cybersecurity ecosystem – the first of its kind globally. The port uses quantum technology to safeguard sensitive information, improving safety for the seagoing vessels carrying 470 million tonnes of cargo annually.

UK Integrates Quantum Navigation for Secure Air Travel. The UK is improving its digital transport infrastructure by integrating the first ever un-jammable aviation navigation system, powered by quantum software. This initiative was prompted by an incident where a government plane carrying the UK defence secretary had its GPS signal jammed close to Russian territory. This technology ensures safe and reliable navigation for aircraft, particularly in hostile environments. The UK government is investing USD 56 million into their quantum sector, aiming to become a quantum-enabled economy by 2033.

Governments Putting Faith in Quantum

Taiwan’s First Domestic 5-Qubit Computer. Taiwan is aiming to be a leader in quantum computing by building its first domestic machine by 2027. This initiative is part of a larger USD 259 million, five-year plan for quantum technology, and has a multi-pronged approach including building the actual quantum computer hardware; developing solutions to secure data in a world with quantum computers (quantum cryptography); creating a strong supply chain for quantum computing components within Taiwan; and collaborating with international partners to develop testing platforms and expertise.

Singapore Explores Real-World Applications. The Singaporean government has pledged USD 518 million to their National Quantum Strategy (NQS). This investment will provide the necessary resources to explore real-time applications of quantum technology in healthcare and technology. Simultaneously, they launched the National Quantum Processor Initiative (NQPI) to develop quantum sensors that will aid in research. Singapore aims to lead the world in quantum tech for investment portfolios, cryptography, and drug discovery.

Australia Aiming for World’s First Utility-Scale Machine. Backed by a USD 620 million investment from the Australian and Queensland governments, PsiQuantum aims to build a fault-tolerant computer that can solve previously challenging problems in fields like renewable energy, healthcare, and transportation. PsiQuantum’s innovative “fusion-based architecture” tackles scaling challenges by using millions of light-based qubits, paving the way for a new era of computational power and potentially sparking the next industrial revolution. This project positions Australia as a global leader in harnessing the immense potential of quantum computing.

Tech Companies Making the Quantum Leap

IBM Enhances Quantum Performance. IBM’s latest quantum computing platform, Qiskit 1.0, has worked on features that enhance performance, stability, and reliability. The updated open-source SDK aims to facilitate accessible quantum programming and accelerate processing times. Qiskit 1.0 uses optimised circuits to create and manage the interplay between classical and quantum computing. IBM is even collaborating with Japan’s AIST to develop a 10,000-qubit quantum computer by 2029, which is 75 times more powerful than current systems.

Microsoft and Quantinuum Achieve Reliable Logical Qubits. This significant milestone is said to mark a new era of dependable quantum technology, dramatically reducing errors and enhancing the precision of quantum computations. They have demonstrated an 800x improvement in error rates, paving the way for hybrid supercomputing systems that combine AI, high-performance computing (HPCs), and quantum capabilities to tackle scientific problems, with new capabilities becoming available to Azure Quantum Elements customers in the coming months.

Quantum Cloud Services for Enterprise. Major tech players QMware, Nvidia, and Oracle are teaming up to create hybrid quantum computing service for businesses. Combining classical and quantum computing, the project aims to crunch complex problems in AI, machine learning, and optimisation – all in the cloud.

Building Towards a Quantum Future

In the short term, using HPCs with quantum algorithms can already provide noticeable speed improvements over traditional methods. Hybrid approaches, where HPCs and quantum computers work together, could lead to significant gains in speed and efficiency, potentially ranging from 10x to 100x improvement.

Three strategies: quantum-inspired, hybrid, and full-scale quantum computing each offer distinct advantages.

While quantum-inspired computing leverages quantum algorithms to run on classical systems, hybrid computing combines classical and quantum processors, optimising the strengths of both to take complex problems more efficiently. Intuitively, full-scale quantum computing represents the ultimate goal, where large, fault-tolerant quantum computers solve problems beyond the reach of current classical systems.

Looking further ahead, the development of large-scale quantum computers could revolutionise industries by solving problems far beyond the reach of classical computers, with potential speedups of 500x to 1000x.

As quantum technology progresses, different industries and applications will benefit from tailored approaches that best suit their unique needs.

The Future of Industries
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AI Legislations Gain Traction: What Does it Mean for AI Risk Management?

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It’s been barely one year since we entered the Generative AI Age. On November 30, 2022, OpenAI launched ChatGPT, with no fanfare or promotion. Since then, Generative AI has become arguably the most talked-about tech topic, both in terms of opportunities it may bring and risks that it may carry.

The landslide success of ChatGPT and other Generative AI applications with consumers and businesses has put a renewed and strengthened focus on the potential risks associated with the technology – and how best to regulate and manage these. Government bodies and agencies have created voluntary guidelines for the use of AI for a number of years now (the Singapore Framework, for example, was launched in 2019).

There is no active legislation on the development and use of AI yet. Crucially, however, a number of such initiatives are currently on their way through legislative processes globally.

EU’s Landmark AI Act: A Step Towards Global AI Regulation

The European Union’s “Artificial Intelligence Act” is a leading example. The European Commission (EC) started examining AI legislation in 2020 with a focus on

  • Protecting consumers
  • Safeguarding fundamental rights, and
  • Avoiding unlawful discrimination or bias

The EC published an initial legislative proposal in 2021, and the European Parliament adopted a revised version as their official position on AI in June 2023, moving the legislation process to its final phase.

This proposed EU AI Act takes a risk management approach to regulating AI. Organisations looking to employ AI must take note: an internal risk management approach to deploying AI would essentially be mandated by the Act. It is likely that other legislative initiatives will follow a similar approach, making the AI Act a potential role model for global legislations (following the trail blazed by the General Data Protection Regulation). The “G7 Hiroshima AI Process”, established at the G7 summit in Japan in May 2023, is a key example of international discussion and collaboration on the topic (with a focus on Generative AI).

Risk Classification and Regulations in the EU AI Act

At the heart of the AI Act is a system to assess the risk level of AI technology, classify the technology (or its use case), and prescribe appropriate regulations to each risk class.

Risk levels of proposed EU AI Act

For each of these four risk levels, the AI Act proposes a set of rules and regulations. Evidently, the regulatory focus is on High-Risk AI systems.

Four risk levels of the AI Act

Contrasting Approaches: EU AI Act vs. UK’s Pro-Innovation Regulatory Approach

The AI Act has received its share of criticism, and somewhat different approaches are being considered, notably in the UK. One set of criticism revolves around the lack of clarity and vagueness of concepts (particularly around person-related data and systems). Another set of criticism revolves around the strong focus on the protection of rights and individuals and highlights the potential negative economic impact for EU organisations looking to leverage AI, and for EU tech companies developing AI systems.

A white paper by the UK government published in March 2023, perhaps tellingly, named “A pro-innovation approach to AI regulation” emphasises on a “pragmatic, proportionate regulatory approach … to provide a clear, pro-innovation regulatory environment”, The paper talks about an approach aiming to balance the protection of individuals with economic advancements for the UK on its way to become an “AI superpower”.

Further aspects of the EU AI Act are currently being critically discussed. For example, the current text exempts all open-source AI components not part of a medium or higher risk system from regulation but lacks definition and considerations for proliferation.

Adopting AI Risk Management in Organisations: The Singapore Approach

Regardless of how exactly AI regulations will turn out around the world, organisations must start today to adopt AI risk management practices. There is an added complexity: while the EU AI Act does clearly identify high-risk AI systems and example use cases, the realisation of regulatory practices must be tackled with an industry-focused approach.

The approach taken by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is a primary example of an industry-focused approach to AI risk management. The Veritas Consortium, led by MAS, is a public-private-tech partnership consortium aiming to guide the financial services sector on the responsible use of AI. As there is no AI legislation in Singapore to date, the consortium currently builds on Singapore’s aforementioned “Model Artificial Intelligence Governance Framework”. Additional initiatives are already underway to focus specifically on Generative AI for financial services, and to build a globally aligned framework.

To Comply with Upcoming AI Regulations, Risk Management is the Path Forward

As AI regulation initiatives move from voluntary recommendation to legislation globally, a risk management approach is at the core of all of them. Adding risk management capabilities for AI is the path forward for organisations looking to deploy AI-enhanced solutions and applications. As that task can be daunting, an industry consortium approach can help circumnavigate challenges and align on implementation and realisation strategies for AI risk management across the industry. Until AI legislations are in place, such industry consortia can chart the way for their industry – organisations should seek to participate now to gain a head start with AI.

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Building a Climate Resilient Future with Sustainable Finance

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The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26, that was held in Glasgow in 2021, highlighted the need to mobilise public and private sector finance to support global net-zero emissions targets and to protect communities and habitats.

Sustainable Finance and Green Bonds present opportunities for lenders, investors, and borrowers. It allows borrowers to obtain funding at decreased and competitive costs. And as investor demands continue to rise, Government institutions have expressed keen interest in issuing green bonds to support ecologically beneficial initiatives. 

Here are some recent global announcements.

  • France announces the issuance of USD 4 billion green bond sale.
  • Germany raises USD 4 billion in green bonds to finance green expenditures and investments.
  • Singapore sets a roadmap for its first sovereign green bond with the Singapore Green Bond Framework.
  • Austria launches its first green bond.
  • The UK launches an inquiry into the role of the financial sector in the country’s net zero transition.
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Role of 5G in the Acceleration of Remote Learning

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The last year has really pushed the Education sector into transforming both its teaching and learning practices. The urgency of the situation accelerated the use of networking to extend the reach and range of educational opportunities for remote learning.

Education technology has rushed to embrace opportunities to facilitate a new normal for Education. This new normal must enable and support education access, experiences, and outcomes as well as aid in developing strong relationships within Education ecosystems.

Education technology, commonly known as EdTech, focuses on leveraging emerging technologies like cloud and AI to deliver interactive and multimedia coursework over online platforms. This also requires a state-of-the-art network to support. 5G provides instantaneous access to cloud services. Use of 5G – as well as network function virtualisation (NFV), network slicing, and multi-access edge computing (MEC) – has the capability of delivering significant performance benefits across these emerging educational applications and use cases.

At present, many educational institutions are aware of the possibilities, but are not active users of 5G network infrastructure (Figure 1).

Adoption of 5G in Education

Educational institutions plan to do some near-term investments but are not clear in what areas to apply the enhanced capabilities (Figure 2).

Education Industry 5G

Role of the Network in Adaptive Learning

In their recent whitepaper, network provider Ciena talks about “the concept of an adaptive learning strategy – a technology-based teaching method that replaces the traditional one-size-fits-all teaching style with one that is more personalised to individual students. This approach leverages next-generation learning technologies to analyse a student’s performance and reactions to digital content in real-time, and modifies the lesson based on that data.”

To create an adaptive learning strategy that can be individualised, these learners need to be enabled by technology to be immersed in a learning experience, complete with multimedia and access to a knowledge base for information. And this is where a solid 5G network implementation can create access and bandwidth to the resources required.

Example of 5G and Immersive Learning

An example of adaptive learning where the technology not only supports but challenges the learner can be found in a BT-led new immersive classroom developed within the Muirfield Centre in Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire, using innovative technology to transform a classroom into an engaging and digital learning environment.

Pupils at Carbrain Primary School, Cumbernauld, were the first to dive into the new experience with an underwater lesson about the ocean. The 360-degree room creates a digital projection that uses all four classroom walls and the ceiling to bring the real-world into an immersive experience for students. The concept aims to push beyond traditional methods of teaching to create an inclusive digital experience that helps explain abstract and challenging concepts through a 3D model. It will also have the potential to support students with learning difficulties in developing imagination, creative and critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. BT has deployed its 5G Rapid Site solution to support 5G innovation and digital transformation of UK’s Education sector. The solution is made possible through the EE 5G network which brings ultrafast speeds and enhanced reliability to classrooms.

Conclusion

5G is expected to provide network improvement in the areas of latency, energy efficiency, the accuracy of terminal location, reliability, and availability – therefore creating the ability to better leverage cloud capacity.

With the greater bandwidth that 5G provides, learners and instructors, can connect virtually from any location with minimal disruption with more devices than on previous networks. This allows students to enjoy a rich learning experience and not be disadvantaged by their location for remote learning, or by the uncertainty of educational access. This also provides more possibilities of exploration and discovery beyond the physical confines of the classroom and puts those resources in the hands of eager learners.


As educational institutions reopen, institutions are looking at ways to redesign the education experience. Connected devices are helping schools and universities expand the boundaries of education. Explore what the IoT-enabled future of education would look like

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Achieving Sustainability: The Tide is Turning

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In this blog, our guest author HE Jo Tyndall, delivers a message of hope for the future and talks about initiatives across all levels to combat climate change and biodiversity loss. “The pieces of the puzzle that will create a sustainable future are all there – it is time to start fitting them together.”

If, like me, you have watched Sir David Attenborough’s “witness statement” (A Life On Our Planet), it is easy to despair of the wanton, wilful destruction humanity has wreaked on the Earth, and to be horrified that so much of this has happened in one man’s (admittedly long) lifetime. The images he conjures – of distressed orangutans, starving polar bears, floods, fires and droughts, and of rampant deforestation – underscore how ubiquitous, urgent and overwhelming the climate change and biodiversity crises are.

But Sir David ends with a message of hope, and it is this I want to emphasise. Everywhere we look, there are green shoots of hope, many growing into sturdy saplings. They are coming thick and fast, and they are becoming mainstream – no longer relegated to the tick-box margins of policy or practice. The pieces of the puzzle that will create a sustainable future are all there – it is time to start fitting them together.

Political Signals Create a Ripple Effect

First, and foremost, in 2015 we got the Paris Agreement (and subsequently its rulebook). This was no mean feat. It set climate goals, gave us global rules for being transparent and accountable, and put governments on a path of continuous improvement to reach those collective goals. It is easy to dismiss global treaties as just words on paper, but this is to ignore the profound ripple effect those words have already had. (The Agreement held firm despite the US withdrawal – but the fillip when it re-joins will be welcome.)  

The political signals set the first ripples off as governments needed climate policies to meet their Paris undertakings. The European Green Deal aims for a sustainable EU economy, with no net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, decoupling economic growth from resource use. The UK will host next year’s UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) – and has doubled its climate finance for the period 2021-2025.

In September this year, China – the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases – announced it would achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. Japan and Korea, too, have upped their mid-century targets to bring net emissions to zero.  

The New Zealand Government has set a legislated goal for the country to be carbon neutral by 2050; has amended our Emissions Trading System (ETS) to ensure price signals encourage a move to low carbon; set up a green investment fund; invested heavily in research into reducing emissions from livestock production; and, most recently, made carbon-related financial disclosures mandatory for specified companies, banks, insurers and investment managers. We have also made it our mission to encourage governments to phase out fossil fuel subsidies (some US$400bn each year) that promote excessive consumption.  

The Ripples Reach Cities and Businesses…

The political signals have flowed through to regional and local government. The C40 group (cities around the world working towards sustainability goals) now has 96 participating members – with many cities finding opportunities to collaborate with others in the network on joint projects.

It is becoming obvious that fossil fuel industries are at a disadvantage against increasingly cost-competitive renewable energy. Governments are working out how to manage a ‘just transition’ for the energy sector, while forward-leaning energy companies are re-shaping their business models in anticipation of a low carbon future.

Political signals encourage businesses to factor climate change into their planning and investment decisions. Businesses everywhere have read the political tea leaves and we see weekly announcements of pledges for carbon neutrality, ethical investing, green financing and so on. Whether it is Blackrock or NZ Super Fund making environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations integral to their investments, or Ikea’s IWAY (its ESG code of conduct for itself and its suppliers), business is showing a deeper commitment to sustainability than ever before. 

Some industries will have to be more invested than others in emissions reduction, but this opens a world of opportunity and innovation. Energy & Utilities companies are implementing waste-to-energy solutions – Singapore’s Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF) is set to be the world’s largest energy recovery facility – and adoption of carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) facilities is at last gathering momentum across energy systems. Industries like aviation and maritime, too, have to play a key role in a circular economy.

… And Individuals (the Last – and First – Pieces of the Puzzle)

The ripples have spread to individuals – people like you and me. I know there are still plenty of climate deniers around. But mindsets are changing – and when that happens, the ripples become a tidal wave of real change. If we each start thinking we can do it and we will do it, the change will happen. If we make it clear, in our preferences as consumers, and in our expectations of the businesses we buy from or invest in, the change will happen.

The numbers who recognise we must live within our planetary boundaries are growing, values are changing (especially in light of the pandemic), and our low-carbon future is a high-tech one – not hemp shirts and home-made candles (unless of course these are your thing). Digital is a critical part of the story. Blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) is being used to cater to a new generation of consumers, conscious of buying what is good for the world in the face of climate change and biodiversity loss. Food products are being branded using track-and-trace capabilities of Blockchain for ‘farm to fork’ visibility. 

Who doesn’t want to breathe clean air, have lower energy bills, and eat safe and healthy food? Maybe we will see more initiatives like America’s Pledge, bringing together an entire ecosystem committed to fighting climate change, growing the economy, and protecting public health – an ecosystem of states, cities, businesses, universities, and citizens.

We now have the rules, the policy tools, the technologies, and – increasingly – we have the will to act. As we re-build our economies, our businesses, and our lives, let us re-build better. So, I would echo Sir David Attenborough’s optimism – it is just that we do not have his (95 years) lifetime left to put things right.


Singapore FinTech Festival 2020: Impact Summit

For more insights, attend the Singapore FinTech Festival 2020: Impact Summit which will cover topics tied to climate change and sustainability to build a better future

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