Last week, United States (U.S.) President Joe Biden signed Executive Order 14073, “Enhancing the National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee” and “National Security Memorandum on Promoting United States Leadership in Quantum Computing While Mitigating Risks to Vulnerable Cryptographic Systems.” These presidential directives will change U.S. policy on quantum information science (QIS) so that the U.S. can maintain its lead in research and development (R&D) in the computational field that promises and threatens to remake computer technology and security. One of the imminent changes relates to encryption, as one administration official explained:
…a potential quantum computer could break the cryptography underpinning much of the cryptography that’s used commercially, but it’s also used in the national security community. And indeed, you know, even a quantum computer a decade from now could potentially be used to decrypt data that’s encrypted even today.
Consequently, the U.S. is understandably interested in remaining the world’s preeminent technological power and investing in and fostering a world-leading QIS program will be a key part of achieving that goal. Other nations, most notably the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the European Union (EU), the United Kingdom, Canada, and others, are vying to pull ahead on QIS. The Biden administration is building on efforts begun in the last administration.
The White House’s National Science & Technology Council (NSTC) explained the ramifications of QIS in late December 2021:
QIS unifies concepts from quantum mechanics and information theory, two foundational theories underpinning modern technology. QIS research includes transformative new types of computers, sensors, and networks that can improve the Nation’s prosperity and security. Investment in fundamental QIS research thus lays a foundation for industries of the future, and opens new frontiers in science.