How Long Before Quantum Computing?

At the risk of sounding both cliche and redundant, quantum computing took a quantum leap this week. Several advances–some of which might be breakthroughs–were reported in the science media. A few even made the mainstream media, accompanied with vivid descriptions of what quantum computing is.
It was all pretty mind boggling.
And it made me speculate, if we can continue this steady advance toward quantum computing, how far are we from the quantum computing age? Let’s define this as QC era as a time when quantum information systems move out of the laboratory and begin to assume duties typical for present classical computers and classical supercomputers.
We’ll just assume that if the laws of exponential technology hold, the era of WC ubiquity won’t be too long after this introduction.
The common estimate is that we’re still 20 to 30 years away from the QC era. A lot has to happen before we go from lab to fab, as it were. We’d not only need the hardware, but whatever model we end up using must be produced in an inexpensive and efficient manner. Another thing we need: software to translate quantum calculations into classical results.
If quantum researchers continue to make steady progress, this is an easily doable. Very conservative.
However, the QC optimists believe that this steady progress is an illusion. Steady, straight line progress is rare in most industries, but would be highly unlikely in information technology.
The QC era hasn’t had its “breakthrough moment.” There is definitely a vibe that this technology is one small tweak–a hardware tweak or a philosophic tweak–away from a breakthrough.
If that happens, the more optimistic researches see the first QC wave hitting the shores in less than five years.
Those annoying types who don’t want to be too Pollyanna-ish, nor too cynical-ish, split the difference between these estimates. We’re probably a decade away.
What are your thoughts?
How long before the QC era?
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