(NewYorkTimes) Glenn S. Gerstell, the general counsel of the National Security Agency, has written a chilling editorial about the threats of cyberattack and hypersonic missiles that he sees as “. . .foreseeable challenges to our national security posed by rapidly developing technology”. It is by no means certain that we will be able to cope with those two threats, let alone the even more complicated and unknown challenges presented by the general onrush of technology — the digital revolution or so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The revolution could not have come at a more perilous and complicated time for the National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the other components of the intelligence community.
Gerstell explains that understanding the promise and threat of quantum computing will also require vast expansion of our expertise in this extraordinarily sophisticated area. It is true that no one has yet built a functioning quantum computer. Perhaps no one ever will. But it seems more likely than not that before the middle of this century either China or the United States will do so, with extraordinary advantages for whichever nation gets there first.
China’s publicly announced 2030 goal is to develop a high-performing quantum computer, which should have that decryption ability. Imagine the havoc that could create. Imagine the overwhelming leverage that the winner would have — such a decryption ability could render the military capabilities of the loser almost irrelevant and its economy overturned.