The US Quantum Tech Future Hinges on Remaining a Global Beacon for International STEM Talent
(Scientific American) Dario Gil, Director of IBM Research discusses the need for the United States to continuing to attract foreign highly skilled scientists to the United States. Retaining this cadre of international experts is crucial for building a bright future that relies on emerging technologies such as quantum computing and artificial intelligence (AI).
Gil shares his history, “I was born in Spain and came to the U.S. as a teenager. I finished my last year of high school here in 1993, at Los Altos High near Palo Alto, Calif., and loved the country so much that I decided to stay. Ever since, I’ve been working to make America a better place to live, having graduated from MIT with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science. I promised myself then to give my wit, education, dedication and passion to this country, my new home.”
Gill calls on the United States to prioritize the development, attraction and retention of highly skilled workers. A declining birth rate, the ever-changing nature of work that increasingly demands STEM skills, and not enough STEM training at home—a problem we must urgently address—means the U.S. must remain a beacon to attract the best global talent. Nations that understand the importance of developing, attracting and retaining human capital will be uniquely positioned to create the best future and benefit from the advancements in science and technology.”
Top talent is in short supply.
Quantum is an excellent example. This technology of the near future is set to revolutionize the world of computing and will likely deeply impact our society and economy. Having been confined to research labs for years, it’s finally emerging as a nascent industry.
Look at the people driving this quantum revolution in the U.S. At IBM, among the foreign-born quantum researchers is the lead of IBM’s quantum program, IBM Fellow Jay Gambetta. An Australian, he has been working in quantum computing for 20 years, having come to the U.S. in 2004 to continue his research studies. He became a citizen last year.
According to a 2019 report by the Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), more than 50 percent of computer scientists with graduate degrees currently employed in the U.S. were born abroad—and nearly 70 percent of enrolled computer science graduate students as well.
Gil concludes, “Our country and the world are full of talent. We should embrace diversity and foreign highly skilled workers as much as we embrace the emerging technology that they bring us. It is time to reset America’s commitment to science and to raise our level of ambition to ensure our country remains a beacon to, and the home of, the world’s best STEM talent.”