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Congress wants to keep America first in quantum computing

June 11, 2018

Two separate bills to beef up US efforts to lead in the nascent technology are being crafted on Capitol Hill.
 
The news: According to a report in Gizmodo, Kamala Harris, a Democratic senator from California, introduced a bill that calls for the US Navy and Army heads of research to create a consortium advancing work on quantum computing. The group would receive funding from the government through 2024, but the draft legislation is silent on a specific amount.
 
A quantum twofer: Some politicians in the House of Representatives are working on another draft bill to create a “National Quantum Initiative” that would tighten coordination of federal projects in quantum computing, spur more corporate and startup investment, and help develop quantum computing skills in the US workforce.

Why this matters: The new technology could revolutionize computing by harnessing the power of quantum physics (see “Serious quantum computers are finally here. What are we going to do with them?”). American companies have led the way in innovation so far, but China is building a $10 billion National Laboratory for Quantum Information Sciences, due to open in 2020, and Chinese companies are investing more aggressively in the field. Reports put US government investment at a few hundred million dollars.
 
AI warning: Supporters of draft legislation fear that unless the US steps up support for quantum computing, it could lose its edge to China in the same way it’s now being challenged in artificial intelligence.

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