Quantum computing, communications, cryptography, clocks, and sensors are important to the US economy and to national security. The ability to apply an entirely new kind of computing power to some of our hardest problems has the potential to benefit our economy greatly in fields ranging from logistics to drug development to finance. The ability to break virtually any non-quantum code, to make quantum codes that cannot be broken, and to facilitate secure worldwide communication has tremendous national security implications.
US quantum leadership is being challenged. China and other foreign competitors are investing heavily in quantum research and development. China’s $10 billion National Laboratory for Quantum Information Sciences in Hefei, its long-distance quantum communication landline between Beijing and Shanghai, and its Micius satellite beaming quantum-encrypted data around the world represent capabilities the US must stretch to match, let alone exceed. Losing this race is not an option.
The National Quantum Initiative can help ensure US leadership. Many of the technical, economic, and policy precursors necessary for rapid growth and acceleration are in place or are coming online in the US. The National Quantum Initiative will provide the necessary coordination, and can raise the profile of quantum R&D in a way that justifies more federal funding. Past national R&D initiatives have accelerated US leadership in a variety of technical fields.
The quantum industry has an opportunity to shape US quantum policy. Now is the time for the quantum industry to speak with one voice to promote its shared priorities. The industry can shape the implementation of the National Quantum Initiative to help promote real-world applications, commercial success, and international competitiveness. The Trump Administration has identified quantum leadership as a key goal, but needs input from industry on how to respond to foreign initiatives. Congress is considering how to fund and oversee the National Quantum Initiative, and needs to hear from industry as well.