Mr. Chairman, members, guests, and my esteemed colleagues, thank you very much for giving me this opportunity today.
I know that the buzzword today is “disruptive” technology. I find that word has too many negative connotations, so I'd like to expand the discussion to what I would describe as transformative technologies.
Transformative technologies create jobs, build value, and improve society. I'd like to share a bit of history of one of the most powerful transformative technologies and give you a sense of why we're trying to recreate a modicum of that success by building a quantum industry in Canada for the 21st century.
The discovery of quantum mechanics by theoretical physicists from 1905 to 1927 in Europe, the U.K., and the United States led to our understanding of how the subatomic world works. AT&T founded Bell Labs in New Jersey in 1925 and went on to recruit the best physicists, chemists, and engineers in the United States to exploit this new understanding to provide long-distance telephone service across the United States. Within 22 years, on December 23, 1947, Bell Labs discovered the solid-state amplifier, calling it the transistor. They went on to invent the integrated circuit, laser, and fibre optics—among other transformative technologies—in New Jersey.
Two of the inventors of the transistor left Bell Labs and went to California, because they liked the climate better, and in 1956 they formed the first transistor start-up company, Shockley Semiconductor. It failed, and the employees went on to found Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel, among many others, to build Silicon Valley in California, fuelled by Bell Labs' inventions and researchers, and Silicon Valley's first real innovation: venture capital.
The massive investment in the silicon industry, research, and venture capital in California helped the United States become a 20th-century powerhouse. Canada, however, missed this first quantum revolution, the silicon age. Ironically, Silicon Valley's success was based on a largely classical application of quantum mechanics in the Turing machine paradigm for computation.
In 1981 researchers in France experimentally and reliably proved that the world was entirely quantum mechanical. In 1982, Dr. Richard P. Feynman showed that a classical Turing machine would experience an exponential slowdown when simulating quantum phenomena, while his hypothetical universal quantum simulator would not. Now, Dr. Richard P. Feynman was quoted in his keynote “Simulating Physics with Computers” in 1982, as follows:
And I'm not happy with all the analyses that go with just the classical theory, because nature isn't classical, dammit, and if you want to make a simulation of nature, you'd better make it quantum mechanical, and by golly it's a wonderful problem, because it doesn't look so easy.
In 1985 physicist David Deutsch took the ideas further and described the universal quantum computer. In 1994 mathematician Peter Shor discovered the first quantum algorithm, an algorithm that runs on a quantum computer, for integer factorization. In 1996 Seth Lloyd showed that a standard quantum computer can be programmed to simulate any local quantum system efficiently. In 2001 Shor's algorithm was demonstrated by a group at IBM who factored 15 into 3 times 5 using an NMR implementation of a quantum computer with seven qubits. The race to build the first scalable general purpose quantum computer was on.
Jonathan P. Dowling, professor and Hearne chair of theoretical physics, and co-director of the Hearne Institute for Theoretical Physics; and Gerard Milburn, director for the Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems at the University of Queensland, said, on August 15, 2003:
...there is a Second Quantum Revolution coming—which will be responsible for most of the key physical technological advances for the 21st Century.
Canada cannot afford to miss out on the second quantum revolution, one based entirely on quantum mechanical computation, simulation, materials, and instrumentation.
The strategy and investments to make Canada a leader in this second quantum revolution and build a quantum industry in Canada began in 1999 with a successful public-private partnership that continues to this day. It began with the founding in 1999 of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario. Its mission is to make fundamental breakthroughs in our understanding of the universe, thereby laying the foundations for the technologies of the future. Stephen Hawking is quoted as saying that the Perimeter Institute is now one of the world’s leading centres in theoretical physics, if not the leading one.
The institute has become the largest theoretical physics institute in the world, with more than 150 scientists in residence, including 44 post-doctoral researchers and 73 Ph.D.s and master’s students. Major private sector support includes donations from me and my business partner, Doug Fregin, of more than $200 million. Major public support includes large investments by the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario.
This was then followed on, in 2001, with the founding of the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo. Its vision is to bring together the world's leading quantum information researchers, harness the power of quantum technologies, and play a fundamental role in the development of the “Quantum Valley”, an economic engine for Canada. While maintaining a lead on scientific discoveries, in the coming years IQC will translate fundamental research into devices that will have societal impact.
David Wineland, the 2012 Nobel laureate in physics, is quoted as saying that as far as he can tell, IQC is the single largest centre in the world for quantum information science. The experimental quantum physics institute has nearly 200 researchers in Waterloo, 25 faculty and research assistant professors, 46 post-doctoral fellows, and 126 graduate students. It was made possible by major sector support, including donations from me and Doug Fregin of more than $150 million, and by major public support, including large investments by the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario.