The May 14 Commentary essay, Miracle Machine needs fuel, co-authored by Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt, touted quantum computing as an upcoming revolutionary technology with the capability to affect our lives in major ways, and argued that government support for its development is essential. Schmidt is correct: The time is right for a major U.S. investment in quantum computing.
Most technologies that benefit us resulted from earlier science breakthroughs, many of which were enabled by government investment. For example, the Internet was invented by university and industry scientists supported by federal government grants. When it became operational, it was supported further through infrastructure investments for many years until private corporations saw the benefit of taking it on.
Now an international race is on to see who can create the first working quantum computer and to put it to beneficial uses.
What is quantum computing, and how is it revolutionary?
A quantum computer would be able to compute answers to many important problems that no ordinary computer could handle: designing new industrial materials, determining the optimal molecular structures of pharmaceutical drugs, monitoring patterns of activity in communication networks, searching databases and other yet-to-be discovered applications.
Ordinary computers store each bit of information in the states of miniature electrical switches. A switch can be on or off to represent a bit of data. A program of switching these on and off drives a computers operation.
A quantum computer would store information in quantum switches, or qubits, which can in a sense be in the on state and the off state simultaneously. This gives quantum computers unique capabilities.
The challenges to building working quantum computers are formidable. Controlling qubits is extremely difficult because they can be disrupted by any unwanted outside influence.
Scientists have yet to create a quantum computer, but they are getting closer. They have learned how to tame qubits and entice them to perform the needed steps to carry out calculations using quantum principles.
Some leading companies, including IBM, Microsoft, Google and Intel, have begun investing in efforts to construct quantum computers. But a gap exists between the kind of trained experts the companies need and the available scientific labor pool. What is needed are quantum engineers, and industry is not in a position to train such a workforce. And, really, at this point no one has the engineering know-how to build quantum computers.
Other kinds of quantum technologies are also on the horizon. Quantum communication technologies have been invented that can promise complete security against messages being intercepted and read while in transit over the Internet. Quantum-based gravity sensors and accelerometers can be used in geo-exploration and in navigation where GPS is unavailable. And quantum magnetic-field sensors can enhance medical diagnostic technology and research.
For these reasons, I recently became involved with a wide cohort of scientists and engineers in industry, government laboratories and universities who are calling for a major national investment in developing the engineering framework and scientific workforce needed to bring quantum technologies to fruition. This would be a quantum moonshot effort, like the government-funded Human Genome Project, which now affects medical research and practice in big ways, and creates growth in the economy.
Following a meeting last fall at the White House Office of Science and Technology, some of us began working together and with professional scientific societies to encourage a major federal investment in quantum technologies, including quantum computers.
The U.S. is playing catch up, as European governments are investing around $2 billion and it is believed Chinas investment in quantum technology is moving quickly, including the launch of a quantum-enabled satellite.
It would be nice if we could leave it up to the private sector to create the first quantum computer, but there are limits to what industry can achieve on its own. Its easy to say that taxpayers shouldnt have to foot the bill for science and engineering, but in many cases these investments provide exponential returns to the people who pay for them. The Internet, GPS, medical imagers, and countless other innovations have come about thanks to federally funded basic and applied research.
Ultimately, these partnerships benefit the taxpayers, private industry and society. The same kind of successes can be had with quantum technology, but only if we commit to a race whose finish is far closer than once thought.
To hear about the development of quantum computers from one of the pioneers in the field, you can attend the free public lecture at 7 p.m. May 30 by Nobel prize-winning physicist David Wineland, in the Straub Hall auditorium on the University of Oregon campus.
Michael Raymer, a University of Oregon professor of physics, is the author of Quantum Physics: What Everyone Needs to Know.
More Guest Viewpoint articles
See the original post here:
US playing catch-up in quantum computing – The Register-Guard
- Microsoft Takes Path Less Traveled to Build a Quantum ... - December 13th, 2017
- Researchers create new type of quantum computer | Harvard Gazette - December 12th, 2017
- Microsoft releases quantum computing development kit preview ... - December 12th, 2017
- Intel moves towards production quantum computing with new 17 ... - October 11th, 2017
- Quantum computer a possibility in 10 years - News.com.au - NEWS.com.au - September 7th, 2017
- Scientists Propose a New Kind of Quantum Computer, But What ... - Gizmodo - September 7th, 2017
- Quantum detectives in the hunt for the world's first quantum computer - Phys.Org - September 7th, 2017
- Scientists Just Found A Use For The Hashtag In Quantum Computing - Gizmodo Australia - September 4th, 2017
- The Future of AI: From Quantum Computing to the Internet of Things - Outer Places - September 4th, 2017
- We're About to Cross The 'Quantum Supremacy' Limit in Computing - ScienceAlert - September 2nd, 2017
- Explaining the Most Recent Record for Quantum Computing: A 51-Qubit Quantum Computer Array - All About Circuits - September 2nd, 2017
- USRA Upgrades D-Wave Quantum Computer to 2000 Qubits - insideHPC - September 1st, 2017
- Quantum encrypted box hints at unhackable communication - Wired.co.uk - September 1st, 2017
- Quantum Computer Programming: What You Need to Learn to Get ... - TrendinTech - September 1st, 2017
- Google's John Martinis Believes Quantum Computing Threat to Be Long Way Off - Bitcoin News (press release) - August 31st, 2017
- Australian quantum computing outfit goes commercial - Networks Asia - August 31st, 2017
- Elusive Majorana Particle Takes Major Step Towards Quantum Computing - IEEE Spectrum - August 29th, 2017
- Australia gets quantum computing company - ACS (registration) - August 28th, 2017
- Quantum Computing and Financial Trading - LeapRate - August 28th, 2017
- Russians Lead the Quantum Computer Race With 51-Qubit Machine - Edgy Labs (blog) - August 28th, 2017
- Bitcoin vs. The NSAs Quantum Computer Bitcoin Not Bombs - August 26th, 2017
- qBitcoin: A Way of Making Bitcoin Quantum-Computer Proof? - IEEE Spectrum - August 26th, 2017
- Hype and cash are muddying public understanding of quantum ... - Phys.Org - August 26th, 2017
- Silicon Quantum Computing launched to commercialise UNSW ... - ZDNet - August 23rd, 2017
- IEEE Approves Standards Project for Quantum Computing ... - Business Wire (press release) - August 23rd, 2017
- Introducing Australia's first quantum computing hardware company - CIO Australia - August 23rd, 2017
- What is quantum computer? - Definition from WhatIs.com - August 22nd, 2017
- Hype and cash are muddying public understanding of quantum computing - The Conversation AU - August 22nd, 2017
- Finns chill out quantum computers with qubit refrigerator to cut out errors - ZDNet - August 22nd, 2017
- UNSW joins with government and business to keep quantum computing technology in Australia - The Australian Financial Review - August 22nd, 2017
- 'Tools of DESTRUCTION' Quantum computers WILL wreak havoc ... - Express.co.uk - August 19th, 2017
- Quantum computing comes of age - Alphr - August 14th, 2017
- No, Quantum Teleportation Won't Let Us Send Instant Messages to Alpha Centauri - Air & Space Magazine - August 12th, 2017
- Google on track for quantum computer breakthrough by end of ... - August 11th, 2017
- Closing In On Quantum Computing | WIRED - August 11th, 2017
- World's Leading Physicist Says Quantum Computers Are Tools of Destruction, Not Creation - Futurism - August 10th, 2017
- Will you be able to trust a quantum computer? - Digital Journal - August 9th, 2017
- New Methods of Controlling Electrons Could be Major in Quantum Computing - TrendinTech - August 5th, 2017
- Exactly what could quantum computers do? - Electronics Weekly - August 4th, 2017
- What is quantum computing and why does the future of Earth depend on it? - Alphr - August 2nd, 2017
- The Age of Quantum Computers is upon us! - Gizbot - August 2nd, 2017
- Ultracold molecules hold promise for quantum computing | MIT News - MIT News - August 1st, 2017
- Clarifiying complex chemical processes with quantum computers - Phys.Org - August 1st, 2017
- When Will Quantum Computers Be Consumer Products? - Futurism - August 1st, 2017
- Quantum Computers Just Moved a Step Closer to Reality - NBCNews.com - August 1st, 2017
- A New Breakthrough in Quantum Computing is Set to Transform Our ... - Futurism - August 1st, 2017
- Quantum computers compete for supremacy - Salon - July 10th, 2017
- Quantum Computers Compete for "Supremacy" - Scientific American - July 5th, 2017
- Less is more for Canadian quantum computing researchers - ITworld - July 4th, 2017
- New method could enable more stable and scalable quantum ... - Phys.Org - July 4th, 2017
- Volkswagen buys D-Wave quantum computers which sell for $15 million each - Robotics and Automation News (press release) (registration) - July 2nd, 2017
- 6 Things Quantum Computers Will Be Incredibly Useful For - Singularity Hub - July 1st, 2017
- Quantum Machine Learning Computer Hybrids at the Center of New Start-Ups - TrendinTech - June 20th, 2017
- Israel Enters Quantum Computer Race, Placing Encryption at Ever-Greater Risk - Sputnik International - June 20th, 2017
- Prototype device enables photon-photon interactions at room ... - Phys.Org - June 20th, 2017
- The Quantum Computer Factory That's Taking on Google and IBM - WIRED - June 20th, 2017
- Toward optical quantum computing - MIT News - June 17th, 2017
- Get ahead in quantum computing AND attract Goldman Sachs - eFinancialCareers - June 16th, 2017
- KPN CISO details Quantum computing attack dangers - Mobile World Live - June 16th, 2017
- Quantum Computing Technologies markets will reach $10.7 billion by 2024 - PR Newswire (press release) - June 14th, 2017
- From the Abacus to Supercomputers to Quantum Computers - Duke Today - June 13th, 2017
- Quantum Computers Will Analyze Every Financial Model at Once - Singularity Hub - June 13th, 2017
- Are Enterprises Ready to Take a Quantum Leap? - IT Business Edge - June 13th, 2017
- Scientists May Have Found a Way to Combat Quantum Computer Blockchain Hacking - Futurism - June 13th, 2017
- Microsoft and Purdue work on scalable topological quantum computer - Next Big Future - June 13th, 2017
- Doped Diamonds Push Practical Quantum Computing Closer to Reality - Motherboard - June 3rd, 2017
- Team develops first blockchain that can't be hacked by quantum computer - Siliconrepublic.com - June 3rd, 2017
- D-Wave partners with U of T to move quantum computing along - Financial Post - June 2nd, 2017
- Telstra just wants a quantum computer to offer as-a-service - ZDNet - June 1st, 2017
- Microsoft, Purdue Tackle Topological Quantum Computer - HPCwire - HPCwire (blog) - June 1st, 2017
- MIT Just Unveiled A Technique to Mass Produce Quantum Computers - Futurism - June 1st, 2017
- Here's How We Can Achieve Mass-Produced Quantum Computers - ScienceAlert - June 1st, 2017
- Research collaborative pursues advanced quantum computing - Phys.Org - June 1st, 2017
- AI and Quantum Computers Are Our Best Weapons Against Cyber Criminals - Futurism - June 1st, 2017
- Scientists claim to have invented the world's first quantum-proof ... - ScienceAlert - June 1st, 2017
- Google Plans to Demonstrate the Supremacy of Quantum ... - IEEE Spectrum - May 25th, 2017
- Top 5: Things to know about quantum computers - TechRepublic - May 25th, 2017
- Is the US falling behind in the race for quantum computing? - AroundtheO - May 25th, 2017
- Artificial intelligence and quantum computing aid cyber crime fight - Financial Times - May 25th, 2017
- IBM Q Offers Quantum Computing as a Service The Merkle - The Merkle - May 25th, 2017