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Quantum computing competition between US and China for security




The race for quantum supremacy is not just between technology companies, but also between nation-states.

Why it matters: The first country to produce effective and functional quantum computers will have a major advantage in economics, cybersecurity and security, and the US, China and Europe are all competitive.

What is happening: Last month, the Department of Commerce added a dozen Chinese companies on a trade blacklist in an effort to prevent the use of new US technologies for quantum computing efforts that would boost Beijing’s military.

  • It was the latest move in a technology trade war between Washington and Beijing that has national security implications and a move that is growing more and more in the field of quantum computing.
  • “The United States is far ahead in many areas [of quantum] and we have a lot of talent, “said Laura Thomas, a former CIA officer and director of national security solutions for ColdQuanta.
  • “But China is managing to close that gap very quickly,” she says

Large view: One of the clearest uses of quantum computing is to finally break down the complex mathematical problems used to encrypt information of all kinds on the Internet, including sensitive government data.

  • This is not yet possible with today ‘s quantum computers, but it could be within a decade or less. Meanwhile, nations are likely to eavesdrop and store data now in the hope that they will be able to decipher it in the future.

Between lines: While American companies generally have the lead in building the best quantum computers, China has massively invested in industry, including a $ 11 billion national laboratory for quantum information sciences.

  • Chinese scholars have made progress on quantum communications, including via satellite, and Chinese companies dominate patent applications for quantum cryptography.
  • But in part because Chinese researchers do not publish as often as their Western counterparts, and because travel in and out of the country has been very limited during COVID-19 “we do not have much visibility into what they are doing,” says Peter Chapman. president and CEO of quantum computer company IonQ.

What to see: Progress in American Efforts to Develop post-quantum cryptography standards that would resist more powerful quantum computers, as well as research by five new quantum institutes set up by the White House last year.

After all: “The economy for the next hundred years will be driven by the quantum,” says Chapman. “So it’s not a game we want to lose.”




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