Asia challenging U.S. ‘hegemony’ in quantum computing
(CNBC) Several Asian countries are racing to get quantum computers fully operational. Jonathan Keane authored this CNBC article describing how to race to develop quantum computing is heating up in Asia. IQT-News summarizes his excellent overview.
Christopher Savoie, CEO of quantum computing firm Zapata, who spent much of his career in Japan, said technological development has been very U.S.-centric. But now, Asian nations don’t want to be left behind on quantum computing, he added. “Nation states like India, Japan and China are very much interested in not being the only folks without a capability there. They don’t want to see the kind of hegemony that’s arisen where the large cloud aggregators by and large are only US companies,” Savoie said, referring to the likes of Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.
Quantum computing was already gathering pace in Japan and elsewhere in Asia when the University of Tokyo and IBM launched their new quantum computer last year. The computer was the second such system built outside the United States by IBM. The university and IBM have led the Quantum Innovation Initiative Consortium alongside heavyweights of Japanese industry like Toyota and Sony
China has committed a great deal of brainpower to the quantum race. Researchers have touted breakthroughs and debates are simmering over whether China has surpassed the U.S. on some fronts.
India, for its part, announced plans earlier this year to invest $1 billion in a five-year plan to develop a quantum computer in the country.
There are two major areas where quantum’s breakthrough will be felt — industry and defense. Magda Lilia Chelly, chief information security officer at Singaporean cybersecurity firm Responsible Cyber, told CNBC that there needs to be a twin track of encryption and quantum research and development so that security isn’t outpaced.
Development and eventual commercialization of quantum computing will not be a straight line. Issues like the threat to encryption can garner attention from governments, but research and breakthroughs, as well as mainstream interest, can be “stop-start,” he said. Progress can also be affected by fluctuating interest of private investors as quantum computing won’t deliver a quick return on investment.
Another looming challenge for quantum research is finding the right talent with specific skills for this research. “Talent is global. People don’t get to choose what country they’re born in or what nationality they have,” commented Savoie.
Sandra K. Helsel, Ph.D. has been researching and reporting on frontier technologies since 1990. She has her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.