(ScientificAmerican) The national security of the United States and its allies the past 70 years was in large part due to the technological superiority of their public and private sectors. The future of that technological leadership is in doubt now as nation-state rivals pursue leadership positions in a next generation of technologies.
A newly emergent field called quantum computing threatens to break the world’s leading data encryption standards that currently secure computer files and network communications in private and public sectors, and the most sensitive of military secrets. The ability of free nations to defend their economic and national security interests will be seriously threatened in the event they fall behind in quantum computing. Falling behind our adversaries in quantum computing would put U.S. and allied intelligence services at a critical disadvantage in their efforts to protect encrypted national security secrets and access the encrypted data of their adversaries.