(PBS.org) PBS NewsHour Weekend interviewed quantum computing experts and discussed the global race to develop quantum technology. The consensus was that the U.S. is competing in an increasingly crowded field.
Christopher Booker believes that the Chinese launch of a satellite containing quantum communication technology in 2016 had a “Sputnik-like influence” that has spurred increased research and developing in quantum technology. Booker explained, “The launch was a giant leap forward in a global race to develop technology that exploits the principles of quantum mechanics.”
For decades, the US spent around $200 million a year in research and development grants for quantum tech. But in recent years, many other developed nations have launched national quantum initiatives – pumping billions into programs of their own. Most notably China – while the exact number is not known, some estimates put their investment at tens of billions of dollars.
David Awschalom does not believe the United States is behind, but it has formidable competition. China already had s a major initiative in quantum and now Europe, Japan, Australia, Canada are funding and moving forward aggressively to research and move to commercialization of quantum tech.
Awschalom warns that funding is not the only issue; The country will need to dramatically increase the number quantum scientists. There is almost a ten year development period for training professionals. A graduate PhD program is 5 to 6 years, then there are couple of years of lag time, so If we don’t start now, we will be a decade behind. It is very important to launch this now.