Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As the theoretical limits of classical computing come into sight, quantum computing is taking its first steps from the lab to the real world.

Why it matters: The modern world has been built on the back of extraordinary advances in computing power, but as that progress slows, quantum computers could take up the baton, bringing computing into a new era — and providing massive rewards to the companies and countries that lead the way.

Driving the news: In a paper published in Science last week, a team of researchers in China harnessed the mysterious workings of quantum mechanics to perform computations in minutes that would have taken billions of years using conventional machines.

  • The research — which used photonic quantum computers, a different approach than many others in the field represents what the team claims is the first definitive demonstration of "quantum advantage," solving a problem that would have been essentially impossible with classical computers.
  • "This is a wonderful demonstration of what you can do with this technology," says Christian Weedbrook, CEO of the quantum-computing startup Xanadu, which is working on building machines with a similar photonics-based foundation.

The catch: Last year a team from Google built a quantum computer that they claimed achieved "quantum supremacy," performing computations in minutes that would have taken the most powerful supercomputers 10,000 years.

  • Unlike the Chinese team, Google's quantum computer was programmable, and as Weedbrook points out any computer should "inherently have programmability implied. That would be a criticism of the [team in China's] paper."
  • But Google's claims have been contested by others in the quantum computing field, who argued that with a better algorithm, a classical supercomputer could have performed the computations faster than the company's quantum computer.

Be smart: This back-and-forth — and the fact that the field can't agree on whether to call these achievements "quantum advantage" or "quantum supremacy" — underscores the fact that quantum computing is still a nascent technology.

  • According to Bob Sorenson, an analyst at Hyperion Research, the global quantum computing market was worth about $250 million in 2019 — or less than what Alphabet made in ad revenue in a single day last year — though it is projected to rapidly grow in the years to come.

Yes, but: There are growing signs the progress made in the lab on quantum computing is beginning to transfer into meaningful commercial products, especially in cloud computing.

  • Earlier this week Xanadu announced a partnership with AWS that will bring its open-source quantum software library PennyLane to the cloud computing giant, a sign of what Weedbrook calls "validation of the commercial applications for quantum."
  • Last week IBM reached a new quantum volume — one of the most widely accepted general measures of quantum computing performance — on one of its systems.
  • On Wednesday Cambridge Quantum Computing in the U.K. announced a $45 million financing round, the largest for any quantum software company this year.

What they're saying: "We know this stuff is going to happen in five to seven years, and now is the time to get these [quantum] platforms built and get ready for them," former Google CEO Eric Schmidt told my Axios colleague Kia Kokalitcheva at the Q2B20 conference this week. "It's going to be incredible when it happens."

Details: The true power of quantum computing is in its superior ability to optimize and simulate some of the toughest problems in logistics and material sciences.

  • While classical computers are deterministic and operate serially — testing one possibility after another — quantum computers "operate probabilistically and simultaneously," noted BCG principal Matt Langione at Q2B20.
  • Because physics is at its heart driven by quantum mechanics, quantum computers should be far better at accurately simulating reality. "If you want to simulate the climate, fully error-corrected quantum computers could be wonderful," Michael Marthaler, the CEO of HQS Quantum Simulations, told me during a panel at Q2B20.

The intrigue: Quantum computing could be coming into its own at the very moment when Moore's Law — the long-running prediction that computer chips will steadily get more powerful — "will finally begin to degrade," as Schmidt said.

What to watch: Commercial quantum computing is chiefly taking place on the cloud, in part because it's easier to build a few quantum computers that are accessible via the internet, rather than selling many separately, notes Weedbrook.

  • Major cloud platforms like AWS and Microsoft Azure are striking more deals with quantum computing players.

The bottom line: As both the hardware and the software improves, quantum will have the advantage in computing.

  • Or the supremacy.

Go deeper

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.

10 hours ago - Economy & Business

CNN fires Chris Cuomo

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CNN

CNN said Saturday evening it has fired one of its star anchors, Chris Cuomo, following new revelations from a legal review made by the company into Cuomo's involvement in the management of his brother's sexual harassment scandal.

Why it matters: Saturday's firing speaks to how much pressure CNN was under by employees and critics to address Cuomo's behavior.

Updated 12 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Electric car prices could go up before they come down

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The secret to affordable electric vehicles is cheaper batteries. But after years of falling prices, battery costs are now headed in the wrong direction.

Why it matters: Costlier batteries could drive up the price of electric vehicles — threatening the auto industry's transition away from fossil fuels, and, in turn, society's fight against climate change.