(NextGov) United States National Quantum Coordination Office Director Charles Tahan joined officials from France, Germany and the Netherlands at the Inside Quantum Technology online conference May 19 to discuss how countries intend to drive innovation in the on-the-rise field, particularly in a post-coronavirus world.
“Quantum has always been global. It will continue to be global,” Tahan said. “We’re much better off being first together, than second or last apart.”
Nations across the world have been increasingly investing in and organizing quantum-centered initiatives in recent years, as Quantum Information Science (QIS) is anticipated to usher in hard-to-visualize possibilities like unhackable communications or supercomputers that could be billions of times faster than today’s.
Neil Abroug, the national coordinator of France’s quantum strategy, spoke to his own country’s recent, heavy investments and ongoing development work. Co-Founder and Director of Quantum Delta Netherlands Freeke Heijman highlighted the country’s fresh funding of a broad agenda that she said is “focused on scaling the ecosystem, in general.”
Ulrich Mans, the strategic partnerships lead at Quantum Delta Netherlands who moderated the panel, noted that while the Netherlands national quantum program emerged in 2019, funding for the program—and Germany’s and France’s—came more recently. The U.S. National Quantum Initiative, or NQI, is “the oldest one in the room,” Mans said, noting that it surfaced in 2018.
The CIFAR research pointed to only “some national governments” that have explicitly acknowledged a need to begin paying attention to social and ethical issues in their quantum policies.
“Ethics of quantum technology—so it’s a subject that we have identified quite late in establishing our strategy. For now, there’s no specific work on this subject,” Abroug said. “But we are considering it because we have identified that we should anticipate the ethical questions.”
The panel broadly agreed that even though the United Kingdom exited the European Union, the quantum-relevant cooperation between Europe, the U.S. and the U.K. will carry on in some shape or form.