Opinion: America is losing the quantum race with china

By Sandra Helsel posted 12 May 2022

(Newsweek) Theresa Payton , Former White House Chief Information Officer, is the author of opinion piece published in Newsweek today claiming “America is Losing the Quantum Race with China.” IQT-News summarizes below:

Payton begins: “China has been outpacing America in the race to reach the next frontier of critical national security technology: quantum computing. In October, Chinese scientists unveiled the world’s fastest programmable quantum computer, a million times more powerful than Google’s most advanced supercomputer.”  She says that America is finally taking notice. Last Wednesday, President Joe Biden signed two documents—an executive order and a National Security Memorandum—to boost America’s quantum capabilities on offense and defense. That means the USA wil be developing its quantum computing technology, and protecting  key IT infrastructure from quantum attacks by adversaries.

Putting warns of the broad-based consequences, “If we’re not prepared for the eventuality of a quantum cyberattack that could render useless every password and computing device, from the iPhones in our pockets to GPS in aircraft to the supercomputers that process stock market transactions, the national security consequences will be enormous.”

(NOTE: The IQT-San Diego Quantum Enterprise program this week May 10-12 has featured numerous keynotes and speakers addressing Quantum-related security threats as well as current and future efforts to protect digital assets.  Newsweek speaks to a broad readership and this Opinion piece indicates the quantum cybersecurity threats are becoming widely known ).

Payton does become more assuring and points out, “It’s possible that China’s recent quantum advancement claims are exaggerated, but the advent of quantum computing is not a question of “if,” but “when.” Ransomware attacks routinely make global headlines. Russia is using cyberattacks as weapons of war against Ukraine. But a U.S. adversary unleashing quantum computing into our digital environment would unleash nothing less than a cybersecurity apocalypse, where corporate, government and military secrets are put at risk by technology that could break 256-bit encryption in a matter of hours.”

“Quantum technology will revolutionize our future as much as the internet and atomic weapons did. It holds enormous promise for pharmaceutical development and discovery, climate modeling and artificial intelligence. But we are also careening toward a perilous future—the worst-case cybersecurity scenarios can and will play out if America remains ill-prepared. Our vulnerabilities in securing infrastructure, personal, business and classified data are very real, especially so in an era of great-power competition with adversaries like Russia and China, which boast advanced and aggressive cyber capabilities.”

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.

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