Peter Chapman says there are parallels between his previous work and his current job as CEO at IonQ, a quantum computing company. (IonQ Photo)
How does a guy go from being the engineering director for Amazon Prime to serving as the CEO of a quantum computer company? It’s a classical move for Peter Chapman, the president and CEO of IonQ, which provides the firepower for Microsoft’s recently announced Azure Quantum cloud computing platform.
Quantum computing promises to address the same kinds of optimization problems that Chapman had to deal with for Amazon’s next-day deliveries, but on a grand scale. It also doesn’t hurt that Chapman previously worked for futurist Ray Kurzweil, or that he believes quantum computers provide the only path to strong, human-like artificial intelligence.
“I really like that kind of bleeding edge,” Chapman told GeekWire.
IonQ should be edgy enough for Chapman, who became the company’s top executive in May. It’s on the bleeding edge of quantum computing, with an unconventional technology that relies on the properties of trapped ytterbium ions.
When handled properly, the ions can represent multiple values simultaneously, in line with the dead-and-alive paradox made famous by Schrödinger’s cat. Those ions serve as quantum bits, or qubits, theoretically producing computational results that are impractical or impossible to produce using classical binary operations that are limited to ones and zeroes.
‘The most boring qubits out there’
It all sounds exotic, but Chapman said the trapped ions behave in line with straightforward physics.
“It’s based on atomic clocks, which have been around for a long, long time,” he said. “In terms of the qubits themselves, there’s nothing exotic about them. To be honest, they’re probably among the most boring qubits out there.”
Chapman and Chris Monroe, a physicist at the University of Maryland who co-founded IonQ in 2015 and now …read more