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U.S. reveals effort to strengthen quantum technology programs

05 May 2022

President Biden has this week signed order to enhance U.S. National Quantum Initiative.

from Ford Burkhart in Tucson

President Biden has signed an order, released on Wednesday, May 4, aimed at enhancing a U.S. quantum effort known as the National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee. The Committee is the U.S. Government’s principal independent expert advisory body for quantum information science and technology.

The order puts the advisory committee directly under the authority of the White House. The goal is for the President, Congress, federal departments and agencies, and the general public to receive the “most current, accurate, and relevant information on quantum information science and technology to drive forward U.S. policymaking.”

A press statement released Wednesday, May 4, said in outlining the White House goals of combining security measures and other quantum efforts: “There may be no better illustration of this balancing act than in the field of quantum information science and technology.

“Quantum information science — QIS — is a rapidly emerging scientific discipline that combines our best understanding of the subatomic world — quantum mechanics — with our best understanding of information systems — information theory — to generate revolutionary technologies and insights.

‘Driving innovation across the economy’

“While QIS itself is not new, recent developments in the field have shown the potential to drive innovation across the American economy, from energy to medicine, through advancements in computing, networking, and sensing.

“Much like the earlier technological revolutions brought about by the Internet, GPS, and even the combustion engine, advances in QIS are poised to generate entirely new industries, well-paying jobs, and economic opportunities for all Americans.

The first of the two directives signed [on 4th May], the executive order, seeks to foster these advances by enhancing the National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee, the federal government’s principal independent expert advisory body for quantum information science and technology.

White House control

The executive order places the advisory committee directly under the authority of the White House, ensuring that the President, Congress, federal departments and agencies, and the general public receive the most current, accurate, and relevant information on quantum information science and technology to drive forward U.S. policymaking in this area.

The Federal Government press statement continued, “Over the coming weeks, we also plan to announce the members of the advisory board and are already excited by the wide range of expertise and experience the board will bring to bear on these critical issues. Yet, while we welcome the many promising applications of QIS, we also acknowledge that advances in quantum technologies pose risks, specifically to America’s economic and national security.

The second directive set to be released on 5th May – the National Security Memorandum – outlines the Biden Administration’s plan to address these risks. It states, “Current research shows that at some point in the not-too-distant future, when quantum information science matures and quantum computers are able reach a sufficient size and level of sophistication, they will be capable of breaking much of the cryptography that currently secures our digital communications.

“The good news is that this is not an insurmountable problem. The National Institute of Standards and Technology — NIST — will soon be publishing new cryptographic standards that can protect against these future attacks.

“But the process to transition America’s most vulnerable IT systems to these new standards will take substantial time, resources, and commitment. Accordingly, America must start the lengthy process of updating our IT infrastructure today to protect against this quantum computing threat tomorrow.”

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