(FinanceYahoo) Warfare has long been viewed in terms of an adversary’s “qualitative” or “quantitative military edge” (QME)-i.e. the military strength one country has over another, whether it be the number of tanks they possess or how fast their fighter jets soar. It’s time to plan for the “qubit military advantage” (QMA), or the marginal additional processing power one armed force has over another.
Miles Taylor, former Google advanced technology lead, who was before that a top intelligence and cybersecurity expert at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), explained in a recent opinion piece summarized here by IQT-NEWS that what he worried the most about the most another country developing a high-performing quantum computer before the United States.
Taylor emphasizes that quantum technology has the potential to “supercharge the artificial intelligence arms race”-meaning that it will lead to machines that can break encryption, robots that can think, and autonomous weapon systems that are faster, smarter, and more lethal than humans.
Taylor now works at the R Street Institute as a Senior Fellow leading their quantum computing policy program-and trying to wake up policy makers to the critical importance of this nascent field. America falling behind in quantum computing would be dangerous.
If the United States fails to take near-term legislative and executive action, the country risks falling behind in quantum computing, an outcome which could have lethal consequences.
AI is already poised to make future weapons systems faster, more agile, and almost impossible for human operators to match, something defense officials have warned about, including after an F-16 pilot lost a virtual dogfight last year to an AI system, 5-0. With quantum-processing speeds, warfare will enter a highly unpredictable era.
The United States has a slim lead and a growing quantum industry, but rival countries such as China and Russia are developing high-functioning quantum computers as we speak.
Meanwhile, most U.S. federal agencies are doing little to explore quantum opportunities and threats, while senior policy makers often have only a vague understanding of the technology. Government research in the quantum space has focused mostly on basic science and theoretical questions, rather than galvanizing private industry to find near-term applications.
This is a moment where legislative actions and federal investment could make all the difference, just as it did during the space race. The quantum industry is not yet profitable, which means an economic downturn could cause the fragile sector to slow down or fold, allowing state-funded rivals to leap forward.