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Where Is Quantum Technology Going in the Federal Government?

The ‘Industry of the Future’ Remains a Decade

Most of the budget growth for activities is related to the National Quantum Initiative Act, which was signed into law in 2018. These include the establishment of the quantum consortia of the National Institute of Standards and Technology; Quantum Leap Challenge Institutes of the National Science Foundation; National Quantum Information Science Research Centers in the Department of Energy; and the coordination and strengthening of core QIS programs across multiple agencies, according to the report.

Thyagarajan Nandagopal, division director for NSF’s Division of Innovation and Technology Ecosystem, said FedTech that quantum computing has the potential to make day-to-day government processes more efficient.

“A data set that takes days or months to complete can give us answers in just a few seconds,” Nandagopal said. “That means you can make a good policy decision based on that data more quickly.”

Barbara Helland, associate director of the Department of Energy’s Advanced Scientific Computing Research program at the Department of Energy, described QIS as the “industry of the future” in 2019. It promises to “provide revolutionary new methods of computing, sensing , communications, data security and metrology, as well as our understanding of the universe, ”he told the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee.

Recently, Helland told Nextgov that many fields could benefit from this technology, including artificial intelligence, data analytics and noninvasive imaging. “Basic technologies such as routers and transducers are an important step in the development of quantum networking,” the outlet reports.

“We’re not there yet,” Helland said, adding that the U.S. is about five to 10 years away from a functioning quantum computer.

LEARN MORE: How will quantum technology affect the future of data encryption?

Funding for QIS Increases as Interest Rises

In a national security memorandum, the Biden administration continued that “while the entire applications of quantum computers are not yet known, it is yet clear that America’s continued technology and scientific leadership will depend, at least in part, to the country’s ability to sustain. a competitive advantage over quantum computing and QIS. ”

In a big step toward that goal, the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, NY, was named the Quantum Information Science Research Center for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force last year. It also received an additional $ 8 million to conduct QIS research and development at the Innovare Advancement Center, also in Rome.

Across the Department of Defense, budget requests for quantum -related programs increased by 37 percent between the fiscal years 2020 and 2022. However, while there are benefits to quantum technology, there are also risk, pointed out in the Biden administration’s new memorandum.

“Above all, a quantum computer of sufficient size and sophistication – also known as a cryptanalytically relevant quantum computer (CRQC) – will be able to break most of the public -key cryptography used in digital systems throughout United States and around the world, ”the memorandum notes.

It can jeopardize civilian and military communications, damage critical infrastructure management and control systems, and defeat security protocols for most internet -based financial transactions.

DIVE DEEPER: Learn the difference between quantum and post-quantum cryptography.

Cybersecurity Risks Remain Top of Mind with QIS

A 2021 National Security Agency document on quantum computing explains that National Security Systems that carry classified or sensitive military or intelligence information rely on public key cryptography as a critical component of protecting confidentiality, integrity and authenticity. on national security information.

“Without effective prevention, the impact of counter -use of a quantum computer could be detrimental to the NSS and our country, especially in cases where such information needs to be protected for decades,” it said.

The Biden administration plans to address these possibilities by maintaining U.S. leadership in QIS by continuing to invest, partner and create a balanced approach to technology promotion and protection.

It also plans to mitigate the threat to CRQC “through a timely and equitable transition of the country’s cryptographic systems to interoperable quantum resistant cryptography,” according to the memorandum.

The goal is to mitigate as many risks as possible by 2035, with the first set of technical standards for quantum-resistant cryptography to be released in 2024.

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