The Quantum Age Will Require a Quantum Generation
(FairObserver) Author Benjamin Verdi focuses on the need for, and the already encouraging progress toward, educating the next generation of computer scientists, developers and engineers in what any of these words and concepts mean, what quantum computing is and, just as importantly, what it can be.
What quantum will be is what the next generation of students — the most technologically-skilled cohort ever assembled — refers to not as “quantum,” but simply as “computing.”
Too many American public policy proposals in the quantum realm have begun and ended with public investment in hardware, sparing little attention or resources for the education of the next generation of engineers who — for any national quantum program or policy to succeed — must be equipped to use it. Some encouraging developments, however, indicate that the importance of quantum education and a quantum-skilled workforce may finally be taking root. There are several entities leading the charge to identify quantum education as a critical need, as collections of the right leaders in the right rooms (virtual or otherwise) are currently conducting the first wave of conversations necessary to educate the workforce the quantum age will require.
The first such institution is the US Army. Placing a renewed emphasis on the development of its people, and the attraction of top industry talent to roles of public service, the US Army has led the way from a federal standpoint in committing to the modernization of its workforce for the quantum age.
A layer beneath the modernization of federal agencies sits the collaborative approach of the US National Science Foundation, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and a smattering of the country’s largest technology firms referred to as the National Q-12 Education Partnership.
Such partnerships should set ambitious goals for themselves and inclusively embrace the full breadth of talent waiting for them within a generation that is as unprecedentedly tech-savvy as it is diverse. Quantum must be more than yet another driver of inequality. Its transformational potential is too great to hoard in Palo Alto or Cambridge.