An interview with Dr. Ray O. Johnson

APRIL 15, 2015
“I believe quantum computers will help solve some of the biggest problems facing the world, and I like being part of making that happen.”
— R.O.J.

Dr. Ray O. Johnson, the former Chief Technology Officer at Lockheed Martin, has joined the board of Qx. A visionary leader in technology and engineering who oversaw more than 67,000 individuals in his previous role, Johnson has forged a career as an adept innovator of advanced technologies like stealth, autonomy and robotics, and directed energy. We sat down and talked to him about his new role with us.

Q: Joining Qx is your first official commitment since retiring from Lockheed Martin. What was the draw?

I have been supporting the development of quantum information technologies for several years. I led the initiative in Lockheed Martin to purchase the D-Wave machine and further develop capabilities at the University of Southern California. QxBranch is positioned to be on the forefront of data analytics with their understanding of quantum computing – solving the hardest problems in new ways, and I want to continue being part of that development.

Q: What makes QxBranch stand out?

QxBranch has both an excellent leadership team as well as a technology team. They have the attention of both investors and customers. As a start-up moving into unchartered territories, they are positioned to grow as they develop new capabilities that can solve today's and tomorrow's problems.

Q: What do you find so exciting about quantum computing?

Quantum computing is in its infancy, and as with classical computing, as the technology matures, so will its ability to support an expanding set of applications. That ability to solve problems that others only dream of, is very exciting.

Q: What are the limitations with it? What is the role for classic computers?

I see quantum computers and classic computers both having roles for the foreseeable future. Increasing hardware capabilities will enable quantum computers to take on more complex problems. Classic computers in the form of super computers today handle very complex computational problems, but there are some problems that are too complex for even the most sophisticated supercomputers. Those are the problems that quantum computing hopes to solve.

Q: What don't people realize about quantum computing or what are the misunderstandings?

Because quantum computing involves quantum mechanics concepts such as entanglement, superposition, and decoherence, they are difficult for people without training in these fields to understand. As with classic computers that were initially programmed in machine code, higher-level languages will be developed over time that will make quantum computers more accessible and usable.

Q: How will you specifically be guiding QxBranch as a Board Director?

I will be working with the other Directors to support QxBranch in its growth and development as a company as well as working closely with the QxBranch leadership team to broaden the customer and investor outreach as the company grows. They have an opportunity to build capabilities in quantum information science and technologies that currently do not exist. I believe quantum computers will help solve some of the biggest problems facing the world, and I like being part of making that happen.

Q: What do you feel were your biggest achievements at Lockheed?

In my role as the Chief Technology Officer, I shaped investments that have resulted in new capabilities and new businesses. I led the corporation's move to several adjacent markets and I broadened the brand internationally. Finally, during the last two years, I made organizational changes that have resulted in the best operational performance in the company's history.

Q: Describe your overall interest in innovation and business.

Innovation is a vital component of business today. Global competition and technology leveling across the planet demand agility and efficiency. I have been a champion of technology and business innovation, and I will continue to use my management and leadership skills coupled with my experience in business and technology to help bring positive change in the world.

Q: What does the future of technology and innovation look like to you in 5 years? 10 years?

The rate of change continues to increase, so people generally do not get this question right. Advances in information technologies, autonomy and robotics, mobility, materials science, and dramatic increases in computational capabilities will bring about huge changes in our day-to-day lives. Things of science fiction a few years ago will be commonplace in the near future because of these advances.