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U.S. Agencies Prepare for Quantum Computing

When President Joe Biden outlined his infrastructure spending plans, his administration committed $180 billion to research and development and future industries. One of the top five priorities outlined in the plan is quantum computing, which experts see as central to leapfrogging high-tech innovation and best positioning America as a technology leader.

With quantum computers, researchers and scientists can store and process information faster than ever, solve complex problems today’s computers cannot solve and integrate powerful insights into everything from weather patterns to the intricacies of the human genome. But as quantum computing solves some problems, it also creates new ones. Networks must be optimised and managed, systems secured and quantum-ready data centres built.

One of the most significant areas in need of a rethink is cybersecurity, specifically data encryption. Current encryption methods work well because they take so long for a bad actor to crack. But mature quantum computers have the potential to reduce this time by orders of magnitude, leaving bare databases, email and military communications to prying eyes. In other words, in a few short years, everything encrypted today will be at risk.

The intelligence community is so concerned about the threat that the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center recently issued a fact sheet detailing how agencies can mitigate the risk posed by “strategic competitors”, who are developing quantum programs aimed squarely at U.S. cyber defences. “Without effective mitigation, the impact of adversarial use of a quantum computer could be devastating to national security systems and the nation.

Beyond these basic steps, cryptography as a function of cybersecurity must rapidly evolve for critical data and assets to stay secure in a quantum world. Fortunately, the nation’s top experts are working on it. For example, the Department of Energy and the University of Chicago have partnered to develop a secure quantum computing network infrastructure for use by researchers (although there are also plans to roll the network out to government agencies and industries handling highly sensitive data).

Researchers must think now about how they can be quantum-safe. For instance, IT teams should take inventory of data assets requiring encryption. They must also assess if new encryption methods must be applied to archived data protected by older encryption algorithms.

The current White House isn’t the first to tackle the quantum computing imperative. Biden’s plan builds on legislation and initiatives already in play, including the Quantum Network Infrastructure Act, which accelerates innovation in the infrastructure needed to realise the full potential of the technology.

Quantum computing will also transform the future of IT infrastructure management. Using supercomputers and predictive analytics, IT pros can wave goodbye to the glitches and outages from faulty configuration changes. With quantum power, they can quickly model the enterprisewide impact of configuration changes before they’re rolled out — eliminating human error and saving time.

Quantum technology can also be used to identify problems before they grow into more significant issues – automatically and at scale. For example, powerful computers will scan terabytes of logs for advanced analyses of infrastructure performance in ways not previously possible.

Quantum computing is no longer science fiction; it is science reality. Indeed, investment by Congress will continue to advance understanding across government and industry of the unprecedented opportunities this computational speed-up brings.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, U.S. researchers said that the boundaries of classical computing for investigating are increasingly large, including solving complex chemistry problems. Exascale computing, quantum computing, and machine learning are tools to tackle the science problems in chemistry, such as carbon capture, water desalination, and renewable energy technologies.

The anticipated power of quantum machines could open the door to a wide range of research achievements in chemistry and beyond. U.S. lab directs the multi-institutional program Advancing Integrated Development Environments for Quantum Computing through Fundamental Research (AIDE-QC). Regarding quantum computing, working together with the hardware developers and science domains advances the software and algorithms to make it a useful tool for scientific discovery.

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