(GCN) The U.S. government is making major investments in quantum technology. In 2020, the Department of Energy invested $625 million into multidisciplinary Quantum Information Science Research Centers in support of the National Quantum Initiative. The Biden administration is supporting legislation that would spend over $100 billion to advance emerging technologies, including quantum computing.
Quantum development and commercialization is already underway, and increasing investments and intensive collaboration among government, private enterprise and academic institutions are already showing significant results. The implications of this new technology are profound for all government and public sectors. Government and industry recognize that quantum computing is no longer a theoretical, lab-based technology, but one which provides useful business value today, even in advance of “quantum advantage.”
U.S. defense and intelligence agencies are eagerly investing in quantum technologies as they look to make the U.S. government more secure and better protected against threats to operations and security. For example, quantum technology will enable the optimized movement of troops for scheduled and on-demand global needs, as well as quantum radar that is undetectable and doesn’t expose itself to attack.
Quantum computing is ideally suited for government-related complex optimization problems. These include creating optimized routes and schedules for snowplows, garbage pickup, emergency response and public transportation. Quantum computing can also enable major operations, such as helping the Federal Emergency Management Agency to efficiently allocate emergency resources to affected communities in the wake of a natural disaster or even predict with greater certainty where a disaster will occur to prevent its effects versus reactively responding to them.
The U.S. cannot afford to fall behind its partners and adversaries in the exploration of new technologies that have widespread implications for government operations. But technology development alone will not be sufficient to take advantage of new capabilities nor overcome its threat. The nation must ensure that it develops a workforce capable of meeting these new challenges. Additionally, these new technologies must be adopted and integrated into government operations much more quickly. The commercial sector isn’t waiting for quantum computing to reach advantage, but the government still treats it as more of a curious research endeavor than a technology that should begin shifting to implementation.