The Race to Develop the World’s Best Quantum Tech
A few days beforeChristmas, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a bill into law that devotesmore than US $1.2billion to a national effortdedicated toquantum information science over the next 10 years. The National Quantum Initiative Act represents a bipartisan U.S. government push to keep up withChina and other countries in developing technologies such asquantum computing, quantum cryptography, and quantum communication—all of which have some potential to upset the balance of economic and military powerin the world. Quantum computing has drawnspecial attention for its potential to someday crack the modern computer algorithms that protect government and corporate secrets.
But investments in quantum science may also deliver breakthroughs that could help cement U.S. technological leadership and national security—or undermine themif another country develops agiven quantum technology first. Notably, Chinahas paid special attention to investing in quantum science as a way of bypassing traditional technological advantages enjoyed by the United States. But it’s more of a marathon than a sprint, Kania explained.
The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine acknowledged as much in a recentreport that suggestsa general-purpose quantum computer is stillmore than a decade away. Engineers must still figure out how to buildmuch largerarrays of fragile qubits that remainstable long enough to perform useful computations. But whether or not quantum computing lives up to the hype, the possible implications for national security and technological leadershiphavespurred theUnited Statesand China into action.