The first quantum revolution of the 20th century ushered in technologies like nuclear power, lasers, semiconductors, magnetic resonance imaging and more that are now widely used today in both the public and private sectors.
Now, as scientists have gained a more comprehensive understanding of complex quantum phenomena, we’re on the precipice of the second quantum revolution, which has the potential to produce revolutionary quantum technologies with invaluable uses across civilian, military and government missions.
The National Science Foundation describes Quantum Information Science as a field that aims to “understand how certain fundamental laws of physics discovered earlier in this century can be harnessed to dramatically improve the acquisition, transmission and processing of information.”
In the last few years, quantum has significantly expanded its footprint in the federal government. In 2018, the U.S. government established the National Quantum Initiative Act, which created quantum research centers across the country and prompted federal agencies to develop a cohesive quantum strategy.
Quantum Information Technologies have also made the White House’s list of critical and emerging technologies, which represents a subset of advanced technologies that are potentially significant to U.S. national security, according to the State Department.
“Quantum may be a critical and emerging technology but it’s not new,” said Charles Tahan, assistant director for quantum information science and director of the National Quantum Coordination Office in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, during a recent event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“No, the government has been significantly funding quantum information science research for 25 years and we’ve gotten to a point where we’re starting to see the first examples of applications, you know, that could benefit our society,” Tahan explained. “Computing in particular, you know, has a potential for true disruption.”
However, advanced technology is not without risk. Jonah Hill, director of cybersecurity and emerging technology policy at the National Security Council, described quantum as a technology that “raises tremendous opportunities for science, technology, engineering, but also carries significant risks primarily to the cryptographic systems that are used to secure a variety of digital systems on the internet.”
In May 2022, President Biden signed two directives on quantum science and technology: an executive order concerning the National Quantum Initiatives Advisory Committee, and a national security memorandum aimed at advancing U.S. leadership in quantum while mitigating these risks to cryptographic systems.
What’s next for quantum computing in the U.S. government? Join the ExecutiveBiz Events Quantum Technologies Forum on July 28 to hear from government leaders and industry executives on the challenges and opportunities surrounding quantum technology in the modern era.
Dr. John Burke, principal director of quantum science for the Department of Defense, is scheduled to keynote. Register here.