The quantum computing race is too important to lose
(NationalReview) Quantum computing is shaping up to be the next stage of computer development. However, it is not currently obvious that the U.S. will dominate this next stage. As in many other fields, China is nipping at our heels. If it triumphs, the future could look very different — and much worse. IQT-News summarizes this article by Mitchell Palmer, a graduate student at George Mason University and currently works in the cybersecurity field. He has contributed to quantum-cryptography research and consulted for a quantum-cryptography startup called Encrypted Grid, LLC
Palmer writes, “If we don’t want to get outpaced in this critical future technology, we need to step up our quantum game.” The United States is not the only player in the field, however. Chinese companies such as Alibaba and Baidu are at the top of the list. A study released by Querca in July 2021 lists China ahead of the United States in funding, committing $10 billion vs. $1.2 billion. Their global estimate is $24.4 billion, which means China is currently doing 41 percent of the world’s quantum computer spending and the U.S. is only doing 5 percent.
By employing quantum physics, quantum computers unlock unique ways to solve problems that would not otherwise be possible. Some really smart people figured out that the fundamental laws of physics break down and work differently at an incredibly small scale of quantum. Then, some other really smart people figured out that algorithms can be written for quantum computers that physically are impossible to compute on a traditional computer. Algorithms that have real, practical applications. Algorithms that have the potential to launch science and engineering decades into the future or tear down the Internet and global financial system. And this disruptive technology isn’t science fiction — some fledgling quantum computers have already been built.
As with all new technology, quantum computing holds much promise for the future — and some peril. To ensure that the world maximizes the former and minimizes the latter, it is imperative that the U.S. lead the way, as it has for most of the world’s technological development over the past few decades. We’ve by no means been perfect at ensuring progress and minimizing its costs. But our country is founded in ideals of freedom and justice. It is important that the wielder of such a powerful technology be such.
Both private and — within reason — public sectors should support U.S. efforts in the quantum-computing field. This race is too important to lose.