Inside Quantum Technology

NIST’s Locasio calls quantum R&D key to U.S. standards strength

NIST Director Laurie Locasio. (Screenshot captured by Dan O'Shea)

In a speech at this week’s Chicago Quantum Summit, Laurie Locasio, director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology, reminded the audience, largely consisting of professionals, professors, students with close ties to ongoing research in the quantum field, that the R&D work they are doing is important to critical to U.S. as it looks to remain a key player in international standards development.

“If we don’t have the R&D that promotes the best technology innovations in the world, then we will not have success at the standard table,” she said, alluding to China as key competition in this space. “That’s part of why we prioritize participation by our best technology experts in the standards process. It’s something the U.S. needs in order to stay competitive in the global marketplace.”

She added, “Standards underpin 93% of all global trade, and that in turn impacts trillions of dollars. The U.S. for decades has really been the center of standard international standards.”

And NIST in turn is at the center of U.S. standards development. The agency is coming up with an implementation plan for the federal government’s new National Standards Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technology, which will help guide development of future standards for quantum, AI, and other new technologies. Locasio urged groups and individuals involved in quantum research to contribute their comments to NIST Request for Information on the new strategy; the comment period will remain open into mid-December.

“I hope you will be joining us to ensure that standards development for quantum information technologies receives the attention it needs in the early days of this market,” Locasio added. “It’s still early in the development of quantum standards… but we need to be there and present at that table while these standards are being developed and ideas are being proposed by other countries.”

Locasio’s plea came the same day that the U.S. House of Representatives Science, Space, and Technology Committee cited growing support for the reauthorization of the National Quantum Initiative Act.

She also gave a brief update on NIST’s effort around post-quantum cryptography standards, saying the initial standards are still on track to be finalized next year, and that work on them continues to ensure that they will be “very rigorous.”

Image: NIST Director Laurie Locasio spokes at this week’s Chicago Quantum Summit.

Dan O’Shea has covered telecommunications and related topics including semiconductors, sensors, retail systems, digital payments and quantum computing/technology for over 25 years.


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