Quantum computing technology – still in its early infancy now but expected to change the landscape of computing forever once it matures over the next decade or more – is posing core questions that Federal government experts are trying to work through now to make the eventual transition manageable and effective.
Dr. Corey Stambaugh, Senior Policy Advisor and Industrial Liaison in the National Quantum Coordination Office housed within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), talked about some of the related big-picture questions at an August 31 event organized by ATARC.
“Are we building the discipline in quantum engineering? Are we translating from the lab into the market,” Stambaugh asked.
Questions like those align with President Biden’s executive order issued earlier this year. That order reconstituted a previously created Federal quantum information science (QIS) advisory committee and put it more closely under the White House’s wing. It also issued a National Security Memorandum that lays out plans to address cybersecurity risks posed by quantum computers.
Those two actions have tightly linked but differing goals: promoting U.S. leadership in QIS; while also “mitigating the risks that quantum computers pose to America’s national and economic security,” the White House said. On the risk mitigation front, Federal agencies will be tasked with inventorying their IT systems and updating cryptographic systems to protect against cyber risks that will emerge from advancements in quantum computing.
“Quantum computing also poses significant risks in terms of its effects on public key cryptography,” Stambaugh said, emphasizing, “it can affect economic and security interests.”
“What’s really nice about this memorandum is it says we need to make sure we’re balancing those opportunities and risks of this technology,” he said.