(Nature.com) Billions of dollars are being ploughed into commercializing the first fruits. In this article, Jacob D. Biamonte, Pavel Dorozhkin and Igor Zacharov warn that “The race to cash in is draining universities of talent, fracturing the field and closing off avenues of enquiry”.
Companies are rushing to build large teams of researchers, draining universities of talent4,5. Hundreds of start-ups are patenting the products of publicly funded research, closing off avenues of enquiry.
Public funding for quantum computing is also booming. But it is uneven and skewed towards hardware. North American institutions dominate, and drive the field in directions that suit them. They focus on superconductor technologies, for example.
The authors appeal to academic and industrial scientists to develop quantum applications in an open scientific spirit. Basic research must not be done in isolation or steered by political agendas.
A handful of nations — the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Sweden, Singapore, Canada and China — are leading the way. Other countries are following suit. India and South Korea each intend to invest tens of millions of US dollars per year. And Russia includes quantum technology in its top-ten list of national technological initiatives.
Many of the results flowing from all this investment are being hived off. Corporate interests and a cooling of the international political climate are making it harder for scientists to collaborate and share knowledge. The authors explain the shadows are affecting our research at Moscow’s Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology — an English-speaking advanced research university that was established in 2011 in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.
Quantum technology risks becoming another ‘Moonshot’ race in which the winner takes all.
This is a lengthy, thoughtful article and worth a studied read.