2019: America's Quantum Leap Year
Published on: April 30, 2019

By Arthur Herman - Forbes Contributor

Quantum computing concept. Circuit and qubits in background. 3D rendered illustration. Getty Images

In terms of quantum technology, 2018 was an amazing year for the United States. It was the year most Americans, including our government officials, realized that the quantum revolution, when superfast computers will use the principles of quantum physics to transform information technology, and just about everything else, is more than just hype. The quantum era is going to be upon us before we know it. Our leading institutions, including the U.S. government and major corporations, need to be ready to confront the technology that’s going to determine who dominates, and who’s dominated, in the 21st century.

My prediction: in 2019 we’ll see the U.S. make the moves needed to secure the lead not just in the race to build the first universal quantum computer, but also in the race to make our networks and information technologies quantum-ready and quantum safe.

The first steps are already in place.

First, the National Quantum Initiative Act finally passed the Senate last week. The legislation commits $1.2 billion to quantum information science research through the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and the Commerce Department (which houses the National Institute of Standards and Technology or NIST) over the next five years. The amount of money is tiny compared to the $10 billion-plus China is spending to cross the quantum finish line first. But quantities of money never dictate the quality, or value, of the research they pay for; thanks to the private sector America already has a strong lead in quantum computing. Mobilizing the public sector, through this legislation and others to follow, will help us stay there.

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