(HelpNetSecurity) the race to develop quantum technologies is an all-out sprint, if not a marathon, and quantum computing is gearing up to be this century’s moonshot. The U.S. and China are investing heavily in quantum projects, and they are joined by organizations and businesses like IBM, Google, Microsoft, Alibaba and Lockheed Martin.
While fully workable quantum computers remain currently out of reach, progress has accelerated. For nations already weathering a storm of state-sponsored cyberattacks, the threat of codebreaking quantum computers looms large. Much as nuclear weapons upended the calculus of conventional warfare, capable quantum computers will redraw the lines of cyberwarfare.
American companies are leading the pack in the private sector but still have quite a way to go. In January, IBM unveiled its latest quantum computer. At just 20 qubits, the IBM Q System One was impressive but far from revolutionary.
Governments have also stepped in. The U.S. administration signed the National Quantum Initiative Act in December, providing $1.2 billion in quantum research funding over five years. Beijing’s efforts to promote quantum technologies are unmatched. Beijing finalized plans for a $1 billion national quantum lab which will be one of the most advanced in the world. The entire US budget for quantum research in 2016 was just $200 million, or one-fifth the cost of a single Chinese project in the field. All told, China’s estimated tens of billions in quantum commitments far outpace Washington’s more modest outlays.