Quantum Technology Appeals to World Powers
While quantum technology remains experimental, both the U.S. and Chinese governments are persuaded of its strategic potential. Useful breakthroughs will require live players.
In 2018, the U.S. Congress passed the National Quantum Initiative Act, which established an office in the White House called the National Quantum Coordination Office and tasked it with coordinating and advancing quantum technology in the United States, with a budget of $1.2 billion over five years.1 While the U.S. government has funded quantum R&D since the 1990s, the new congressional act and office followed the singling out of quantum technology—including quantum computing, communications, and sensing—as a national priority in China’s 13th five-year plan from 2016-2020.2 Through 2018, China had invested an estimated $5-10 billion in quantum technology at least.3 Quantum technology has become a cause célèbre for technological advancement in both the United States and China, but also in Europe, Canada, and Russia. Industry projections expect quantum computing to revolutionize fields from pharmaceuticals development to capital risk assessment. The theoretical potential of quantum technology to break traditional encryption or allow powerful new types of military sensors to be created has increased the popularity of the view that, in the words of U.S. Congressman Bob Latta, “whichever nation first develops a practical quantum computer will have a tremendous advantage over its foreign peers.”4