White House Directives Target Quantum Science, Technology

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President Joe Biden this week introduced two directives that will advance national initiatives in quantum information science (QIS). The president signed an executive order that will enhance the National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee (NQIAC), as well as a National Security Memorandum (NSM) that outlines the administration’s plan to address risks to America’s economic and national security posed by advances in quantum technologies.

The NQIAC is the federal government’s principal independent expert advisory body for quantum information science and technology. Per the executive order, the advisory committee is now directly under the authority of the White House, ensuring that the president, Congress, federal departments and agencies, and the public receive the most current, accurate, and relevant information on quantum information science and technology.

In a May 4 statement, the White House said that the NSM outlines the administration’s plan to address the risks posed by quantum computers to the country’s cybersecurity. The statement said that the memorandum specifically positions the U.S. to remain a global leader in technology development, and QIS in particular; initiates collaboration between the federal government and the private sector; sets requirements for federal agencies to update cryptographic systems; and protects U.S. technology.

The memorandum calls for U.S. leadership in QIS. “The United States must pursue a whole-of-government and whole-of-society strategy to harness the economic and scientific benefits of QIS, and the security enhancements provided by quantum-resistant cryptography,” the NSM said. “This strategy will require a coordinated, proactive approach to QIS research and development, an expansion of education and workforce programs, and a focus on developing and strengthening partnerships with industry, academic institutions, allies, and like-minded nations.”

The NSM also calls for investment in “quantum-enabling technologies,” including photonics. “The United States must seek to encourage transformative and fundamental scientific discoveries through investments in core QIS research programs. Investments should target the discovery of new quantum applications, new approaches to quantum-component manufacturing, and advances in quantum-enabling technologies, such as photonics, nanofabrication, and cryogenic and semiconductor systems.”

The executive order is published here. The NSM is published here.

Published: May 2022
The term quantum refers to the fundamental unit or discrete amount of a physical quantity involved in interactions at the atomic and subatomic scales. It originates from quantum theory, a branch of physics that emerged in the early 20th century to explain phenomena observed on very small scales, where classical physics fails to provide accurate explanations. In the context of quantum theory, several key concepts are associated with the term quantum: Quantum mechanics: This is the branch of...
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