IBM has signed up several prominent banks as well as industrial and technology companies to start experimenting with its quantum computers.
The first clients to tap into the IBM Q early-access commercial quantum computing systems include: JPMorgan Chase, Daimler AG, Samsung, JSR Corporation, Barclays, Hitachi Metals, Honda, Nagase, Keio University, Oak Ridge National Lab, Oxford University and University of Melbourne.
These 12 initial organizations join the newly formed IBM Q Network, a collaboration of Fortune 500 companies, academic institutions and national research labs working directly with IBM to advance quantum computing.
The IBM Q Network provides organizations with quantum expertise and resources, and cloud-based access to advanced and scalable universal quantum computing systems, starting with a 20 qubit IBM Q system. IBM also recently built and measured the first working 50 qubit prototype processor. IBM anticipates that access to this prototype will be offered to IBM Q Network participants in the next generation IBM Q system.
Organizations will work directly with IBM scientists, engineers and consultants to pioneer quantum computing for specific industries and have direct cloud-based access to IBM Q systems. Each of the IBM Q Network Partners will explore potential applications of quantum computing in their industry that could provide a quantum advantage - demonstrations of real-world problems that may be solved faster or more efficiently with a quantum computer than with a classical computer.
IBM will establish regional hubs across four continents to increase access to quantum systems and advance research, which are critical for accelerated learning, skills development and implementation of quantum computing. These IBM Q Network Hubs will broadly enable their industry and research collaborators to have online use of IBM Q systems and engage in joint development work to explore quantum computing. The planned locations for the hubs are at IBM Research, Keio University in Japan, Oak Ridge National Lab in the United States, Oxford University in the United Kingdom and the University of Melbourne in Australia.
Through the publically available IBM Q Experience, registered users to connect to IBM's quantum processors via the IBM Cloud, to run algorithms and experiments, work with the individual quantum bits, and explore tutorials and simulations around what might be possible with quantum computing. Developers also have access to IBM's open quantum software development kit, QISKit, to create and run quantum computing programs.
Registered academic users can leverage the IBM Q Experience for a deeper research collaboration. Professors and researchers will find customized tools designed to accelerate and differentiate their work including preferred queue access to IBM's quantum processors, the ability to link and tag their research to the IBM Q Experience, and channels to request new features and functionalities.
IBM will support MIT in producing a comprehensive curriculum for executives, engineers, scientists and researchers to understand and leverage the upcoming quantum computing revolution. The first courses are anticipated to go online in the first half of 2018 via the edX platform. The curriculum will include a set of MIT created massive open online courses (MOOCs) that will be offered both for free and for a fee to learners who desire an MIT issued certificate of completion.
In addition to supporting the quantum curriculum, IBM has started working with MIT to explore the intersection of quantum computing and machine learning as part of the recently launched MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab. Together, IBM and MIT scientists are investigating the "Physics of AI", which involves new research into AI hardware materials, devices and architectures. Focus areas include using AI to help characterize and improve quantum devices, and researching the use of quantum computing to optimize and speed up machine-learning algorithms and other AI applications.
IBM is also introducing IBM Q Consulting, which brings together consultants, scientists and industry experts to help clients envision new business value through the application of quantum computing technology, and provide clients with customized roadmaps to help them become quantum ready.
Microsoft is working on a different type of qubit that will theoretically produce a lower error rate, making it more useful for commercial applications. But the company has not yet managed to build a working model.