Q&A / QUANTUM COMPUTING
”I have tackled big challenges in the past, but everything pales in comparison to quantum computing”
On the potential of quantum computing
March 15, 2021
Fredrik Carlström is the newly appointed creative director of brand and special projects at quantum computing company Seeqc. He is also the founder and creative director of Another Structure, a real estate development company with projects including Alma, the members’ club for creatives and entrepreneurs that opened in Stockholm in 2017 and is about to open in New York.
Fredrik, congratulations on your new gig! First off: how much do you really know about quantum computing?
— Seeqc are about 20 people. 17 of them have PhDs. One guy won the national math competition. In Russia. Suffice to say that this past month has seen my academic insecurities reach a new high and there has been a pretty steep learning curve. I will probably never fully understand quantum, but I am starting to grasp some of the concepts and get excited about the possibilities.
You have a background in working with lifestyle, design and hospitality brands. What can you offer a quantum computing company?
— Human beings can achieve amazing things in large part because we can organize ourselves in big numbers, across vast distances and over long periods of time. The reason we can do this is because we think and try to make sense of the world by telling stories – and I am good at telling stories. When Obama was president I did some work on strategies to communicate big initiatives such as The Affordable Care Act (“Obama Care”), so I have tackled big communicative challenges in the past, but everything pales in comparison with the complexity and potential of quantum computing.
How do you explain quantum computing to someone who only has a vague idea of what it is?
— Quantum physics, put simply, explains how the world is built up and how nature works at the scale of atoms and subatomic particles. Quantum computing mimics how nature works and means building a machine that is much more powerful than a regular computer.
What are the plans for the Seeqc brand?
— We are at the early stages of figuring that out, but what we do know is that the success of quantum as a whole depends on the collaboration between many disciplines and across society. Therefore, we believe it is important to bring the work that is being done in quantum around the world out of the lab and into the minds of people everywhere, so the Seeqc brand will reflect this collaborative approach.
How far off are we from seeing real implementations of quantum computing in society?
— We are in 1903. The Wright Brothers have just successfully flown 37 meters for 12 seconds. We know that the science works and we can see practical implications for the technology, but we are years away from having commercial airlines, travel agents and airports. Now we are focused on making sure the hardware works well, is reliable and can be scaled up so we can fly longer distances.
There is a lot of debate about the risks with artificial intelligence. Do you think we will see the same discussion with quantum computing?
— There are always unexpected and undesired side effects of technology and society as a whole will do well to remember that. The damage we have done to our planet in the short time since the industrial revolution happened at break-neck speed. One problem is that those who are in charge of regulating and safe-guarding these new technologies often have too limited an understanding of how they work. So I think we should demand that those commercializing and monetizing new technology also put time and resources into seriously thinking pro-actively about potential downsides.