US aims at ‘continued leadership’ in quantum information science

President Joe Biden is focusing on maintaining US leadership in quantum information science and reducing risks from quantum computers. Directives include a national security memorandum highlighting the need for a comprehensive strategy involving research, workforce development, and partnerships with various sectors. The National Institute of Science and Technology will collaborate with industry on quantum-resistant cryptography. Federal agencies are urged to protect intellectual property and educate on security threats. Another directive enhances the National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee, offering guidance on the National Quantum Initiative Program’s activities.

‘Continued leadership’ in quantum information science (QIS) and mitigating risks associated with quantum computers are the main objectives behind two new directives issued by US President Joe Biden. The first is a national security memorandum which notes the importance of pursuing 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’. Such a strategy will entail coordinated research and development activities, strengthened education and workforce development programmes, and partnerships with ‘industry, academic institutions, allies, and like-minded nations’. The memorandum further directs the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) to work with the industry on advancing the adoption of quantum-resistant cryptography and on addressing related cybersecurity challenges. Also included is a request for federal agencies to develop plans to ‘safeguard American intellectual property, research and development, and other sensitive technology from acquisition by America’s adversaries, and to educate industry and academia on the threats they face’. The second directive is an executive order dedicated to enhancing the National Quantum Initiative (NQI) Advisory Committee – a multistakeholder body now under the authority of the White House tasked with providing advice on matters related to the NQI Program. This programme encompasses activities undertaken by federal agencies in areas such as QIS research and development, demonstration, and training.