quantum computer
quantum computer

The Quantum Race Is On – What Does It Mean for Governments and Their Top Secrets?

Joe Kornik, Director of Brand Publishing Editor-in-Chief of VISION by Protiviti
  • The big picture: By 2035, quantum computing, coupled with AI, is poised to revolutionize science, technology, and various sectors by bringing unprecedented levels of optimization.
  • Yes, but… On the flip side, quantum computing presents an existential threat to current encryption systems, with enormous implications for governments’ national security.
  • It’s game on. Despite exciting progress in quantum science and academic research, building skilled teams and companies capable of implementing practical quantum solutions remains a challenge — and a competition.

Envision a game with high political stakes where countries compete for scientific and technological advantages that could help lead to an edge in intelligence gathering for governments. In this game, quantum computing and its powerful technological twin, AI, are key wins that can shape the geopolitical future, according to Konstantinos Karagiannis, Protiviti’s quantum expert and host of the popular podcast series “The Post-Quantum World.” Karagiannis joined VISION by Protiviti to talk about the quantum advantage, when it will happen and what it would mean for governments, companies and the rest of us.

The most important question when?

Karagiannis predicts enough “logical qubits” will exist by 2035, surpassing the computing power of today by a factor of millions. This, alongside AI, will allow the optimization of entire industries, like energy or healthcare — so that’s the good news. The bad news is that quantum machines, in the hands of less-than-benevolent actors, will be able to crack current cryptographic systems like RSA or blockchain, exposing sensitive information “overnight.” This could be a game-changer for governments like no other.

 Who are the players?

The quantum competition — as so many others — is between the U.S. and China. Quantum research, backed by significant government investment, is concentrated in both countries and going full steam, and it’s not clear how much of it is shared in the spirit of scientific cooperation. Suffice it to say that the U.S. government has directed government agencies and private companies to prepare to mitigate quantum risk by 2035, in a National Security Memorandum (NSM-10) issued by President Biden in 2022. (Karagiannis thinks it will be more like 2030.)

How do we prepare?

The NSM-10 sounds an appropriate level of urgency and calls for a proactive and collaborative approach in developing and advancing post-quantum cryptography. NIST standards on post-quantum cryptography are expected to be published later this year (2024). Once this happens, the demand for quantum talent is expected to explode. Despite solid academic programs nurturing talent in the U.S., such as the Chicago Quantum Exchange, assembling whole teams and companies that can build and implement quantum solutions is going to be a challenge, especially in the private sector arena.

Who will win?

No predictions, but one thing is certain — quantum is shaping up to be a gamechanger for governments and businesses alike. We do our best to keep you informed of technological and other trends like this with VISION by Protiviti content. To delve into this deeper, watch the interview with Karagiannis, and subscribe to the VISION newsletter for timely content in your inbox. Meanwhile, to keep up with all the latest quantum developments, subscribe to The Post-Quantum World podcast here.

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