Quantum computers – practical applications

2 min.

Summary

The quantum computer is now finding its way into the business world and its practical applications and is leaving the purely scientific realm. The quantum computer will enable us to face previously unsolved challenges in the field of artificial intelligence and diverse simulations. In all areas where large amounts of data and parallel processing are necessary.

Miniaturization of transistors reaches its limits today

On a chip of 2 * 2 cm there are 18 billion transistors. Now the physical limits of production are reached with a transistor size of 10 nanometers. The transistor represents the well known characteristic 0 and 1 (1 bit).

The previous manufacturing process using ultraviolet light is now reaching its limits. With transistors in these small sizes (a few atoms large), the electrons jump over the barrier in the transistor (pass through the closed transistor) and the transistor loses its effect of representing 0 or 1 because the electrons become independent. This effect is called quantum mechanical effect.

How does a quantum computer work?

Exactly this effect is used for the production of quantum computers. Because a quantum computer no longer uses only one bit (i.e. 0 and 1; “either or”), but a qubit (0, 1 and 0/1; 2both as well as”). The qubit thus allows 2 states (0 and 1) to be taken simultaneously. This property is called superposition. If now the state of the transistor is measured, this qubit “colabrates” in a clearly defined probability 1 or 0.

With classical bits, four different combinations are represented in the transistor: 00, 11, 01 and 10. With a qubit, all four combinations can be used simultaneously. Thus it is possible to represent N bits for N qubits = 2 high. In addition, parallel arithmetic operations are also possible due to the superposition. These multiply exponentially with each additional qubit.

Furthermore there is another quantum mechanical effect of the “entanglement” = linking of one qubit with another qubit. A qubit reacts automatically to the change of its partner qubit.

The weakening of the Moorschen law (every 18 months a doubling of the computing power) should be stopped again with the development of quantum computers in many applications.

Sensible applications of the quantum computer

Therefore, the quantum computer can perform parallel computations better and is therefore very well suited for searching databases, decrypting encryptions and simulations. The quantum computer does not play an advantage in sequential computations and here the classical computer (digital computer) will certainly continue to be used for cost reasons until further notice.

Examples for simulations can be:

  • simulations of molecule cooling in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries
  • traffic simulations
  • quantum algorithms in artificial intelligence
  • cryptography

The quantum computer is now moving from the scientific research niche into the business world and its practical applications.

How do you program a quantum computer?

The algorithms to be used differ from the algorithms of the digital computer to use entanglement and superposition. Several arithmetic operations, so-called quantum gates, are used to entangle, read or modify the qubits described above. Special algorithms for prime factor decomposition (in crypotography) and special search algorithms (for database query) have existed for a long time, but are now used in business environments.

Ethics and morals and how they determine our future

4 min.

Summary

Ethics and morality as delimitable concepts form the guard rails for our shaping of the future. An action is seen as morally correct if it is regarded by all as correct or just. It must now be defined who “all” are. A different evaluation by different cultural circles of “future topics” leads to different standards of values and thus to accelerated or slowing trends in the introduction of “future topics”.

How do morality and ethics differ?

Ethics and morality as delimitable concepts form the guard rails for our shaping of the future. First a differentiation between the two terms is necessary before we consider how these guard rails apply to the respective context and thus directly influence our future.

Ethics is derived from the Greek word ēthos . Translated, this means character or sense. Morality comes from Latin and means translated custom. Ethics is therefore the higher authority and illuminates various morals and considers them from a philosophical point of view. Morality is the practical application of ethics. Morality is the practising or practical ethics.

What is ethically correct now?

An action is regarded as morally correct if it is regarded by all as correct or fair. Now it has to be defined who “all” are. In the context of globalisation and the ever closer intermeshing of cultures and economies, this is not so easy. In our European culture, ethical values are determined by questions like:

  • Is that natural?
  • Is that normal?
  • Is it human?

In other regions, such as the Silicon Valley or often in Asia, demand is high:

  • Is that causing damage?
  • Is that useful?
  • Does it have a side effect?

This diversity is already empirically underpinned at Hofstede with the cultural dimension “uncertainty avoidance”, as explained in my article International Project Portfolio Management, taking cultural differences into account. Germany has a value of 65 for uncertainty avoidance, in contrast to China with 40 and the USA with 46, for example. The other two cultural groups are therefore rated as much more daring in comparison to Germany.

Ethical diversity and inhomogeneity of cultural groups

As written in my article “Project manager in 2030” over a year ago there will be “in 500 weeks … robots support the care of old people.” Is this natural, normal or even human? The majority of Europeans will say no.

In the USA or Asia, the illumination of this aspect on harm, benefit and side effect will be a very different answer to the ethical question. For through these communities will be put forward: The shortage of caregivers will become more and more apparent and then the benefit of a robot in elderly care will certainly be greater than potential damage. On the contrary, it will be argued that damage will be avoided because the elderly to be cared for do not “lie down” in bed due to the amount of lying down and the constant need to change beds. Does it have any negative side effects? Certainly not, because instead of the staff doing lifting and cleaning, the staff will be able to take care of communication and personal care. Depending on the cultural context, these ethical considerations may differ. The consideration of the thesis from the same article “In 500 weeks we will eat meat bred in laboratories” can be illuminated analogously and the same discrepancy of the approach will be found.

In addition to diversity, the inhomogeneity of cultural circles must also be noted. Within each culture there will be adherents of both forms, which is now ethical. On the one hand followers with the focus on testing for naturalness and humanity vs. followers who rather focus on damage and benefit evaluations.

Effects on the development of future trends

This fundamentally different evaluation of “future topics” leads to different standards of values and thus to accelerated or slowing trends in the introduction of “future topics”. Therefore, will we in Europe lag behind in the new trends and will be other regions be a pulse generator?

I think it depends a lot on the topics. In the field of “immortality”, i.e. DNA replications and changes in the first steps, Asian research laboratories and companies are already a long way ahead in concrete research into immortality. In the field of autonomous driving, there is likely to be a certain dominance in the scientific field in Europe, but this has already neutralised itself in the commercial field. In the blockchain sector, Germany has fortunately established a good basis of start-ups that are internationally competitive.

Do future trends need new regulations?

Now the question arises whether regulations are already necessary for these trends. These are established for topics such as social media (already established commodity products such as Facebook). On the subject of autonomous driving, there are worldwide prototypes of regulations that are used as limited regulations and have been temporarily established by politics on an experimental basis. Here, German policymakers must succeed in adapting these in good time in order not to slow down these new trends in our region in comparison to other regions. Here, key industries such as the German automotive industry are hanging by a thread and could fall behind due to a lame legislation. For it will not be decisive who has completed the first and best autonomous journeys in realistic environments on which test site, but who can and has demonstrated this to the masses. It is already the case today that autonomous systems can drive safer than any human driver (in most environments). The only future trend area I know for which even the world’s greatest visionaries want clear regulations is the field of artificial intelligence. Here, limitations should be set early on so that man, as then the second most intelligent creature after AI, does not become a servant of AI. Fears in this area are not completely unfounded but extremely complex to regulate. Exciting times.

Leading without shoulder epaulets but with emotional bond to the project

3 min.

– Bridge between old and new forms of project organization –

Summary

The central skill of our time: lateral leading, i.e. leading without authority to give instructions, will require more attention. While the classic project organizations are based on technical authority to issue directives or even disciplinary authority to issue directives, the lateral leadership and the (new) project organization, which has not yet been named, is based primarily on trust and understanding through the creation of a common thought construct in order to emotionally connect the possible divergent interests of the participants, at least for the duration of the project.

A former project of the author cannot be typified according to any of the classical forms of project organization such as pure (autonomous), matrix or staff organization. A mixed form of staff and matrix organisation is most likely to be identified, where clear delivery items are agreed, but only partially clearly assigned project members are integrated in the team. In principle, however, all project participants contribute their contribution to the delivery items, even those who do not report to them – not always in a technical sense.

Surely one could say that such a project should never be accepted as a project leader or will never be successful.

How can an emotional connection to the project be established here in such a non-binding project organisation?

Formal power relations are no guarantee for a stable emotional bond. Project team members must feel comfortable and supported in their project environment in order to feel committed. Every employee looks for fixed points of attachment that are decisive for the development of a sense of belonging. The good relationship with the project manager without authority to issue instructions, the friendly relationship with colleagues or the activity itself can be a fixed point of attachment for well-being and participation. Because those who see themselves as part of the project show more commitment and loyalty.

Team members are only strong if they have attractive and challenging project tasks. Furthermore, a sense of purpose and a comprehensible project goal are important for the project team member.

For project team members, motivation is determined by the fact that their opinion counts in the project and that they have the opportunity to help shape it. The mood and attitude of colleagues within a team can affect the motivation of the entire project team. Working together with motivated and committed colleagues is often stimulating and also creates a bond through integration into a community.

How do you take this lead when it matters?

The recognition received for the work performed has the greatest influence on the commitment of a project employee. Praise from the project manager creates satisfaction.

But the central skill of our time as a connecting element: lateral leading, i.e. leading without authority to instruct, will require more attention.

When and how do you let others guide you? Which rules apply in this interplay of forces? This can only be achieved through emotional bonding.

How do you exercise leadership in this scenario? How do you set goals correctly? How do you delegate tasks correctly? What motivates and what demotivates?

While the classical project organisations are based on technical authority or even disciplinary authority, the lateral leadership and the (new) project organisation not yet named with it is based mainly on trust and understanding through the creation of a common thought construct in order to connect the possible divergent interests of the participants at least for the duration of the project.

The power to issue disciplinary directives as a source of power no longer exists. Other sources of power such as expertise or information control are often tapped and internal power games are deliberately used. Here, however, it is necessary to find out whether this leads to success. Here the practical experiences from the author’s project can be reflected upon and lead to new insights into how emotional attachment can be achieved even beyond loose project organisation.

Lateral leadership in cross-departmental or cross-organisational situations always holds a certain potential for conflict. Conflicts of objectives and interests of the organizational units involved, but also different ways of thinking and behaving of the persons involved cannot be excluded. Here it is to be discussed whether more conflicts are to be determined than in a classical project organization.