U.S. Office to Advance Research, Form 5-Year Plan
With the battle raging between China and the U.S. over the growth of quantum computing, President Trump, along with the support of Congress, has signed the The National Quantum Initiative Act (H.R. 6227) authorizes $1.2 billion over five years for federal activities aimed at boosting investment in quantum information science, or QIS, and supporting a quantum-smart workforce. This new law also creates the National Quantum Coordination Office. This office is assigned the development of a 5-year plan and creates an advisory committee to advise the White House on all issues pertaining to quantum computing.
The office will develop restrictions on what quantum computing advances can be shared with other nations. China and the European Union are investing billions of dollars in quantum computing, and the newly approved National Quantum Initiative is meant to keep America at the forefront of the technological race. (China has already funded an $11.4 billion program.)
The $1.2 billion couldn’t come at a better time according to a Scientific American story this month. Fears related to quantum computing include the possibility that it will never be built to function properly. Mikhail Dyakonov, a theoretical physicist at the University of Montpellier in France, said building a practical quantum computer is not possible. He believes engineers will never be able to control all the continuous parameters that would underpin even a 1,000-qubit quantum computer. At least not in the foreseeable future.
Some fear it will function properly, but the Chinese or the EU will have a better version of this new world computing ability.
Others ask if a quantum computer is possible, will it become unstoppable in terms of invading networks? The U.S. government and military, in particular, are deeply concerned. A report issued by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, however, explains that the worries are misplaced for now. According to one expert:
“I think in the next year or two we won’t get to solving actual problems yet,” said John Martinis, a research scientist at Google and professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, during a press conference. “But there will be better machines out there, and excitement will pick up with the understanding that we are still doing basic science.”
So though the fears of quantum are many and come in many forms, it doesn’t seem to be quite ready for “primetime” just yet. Maybe in 5 or 10 years. But not next year.
The Optic Society has a review of the NQI the President signed that you can read by clicking here.