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Quantum Computing With Particles Of Light: A $215 Million Gamble – Forbes

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PsiQuantum is a little-known quantum computing startup, however it recently had no trouble raising almost a quarter of a billion dollars from Microsoft's M12 venture fund and other investors. That is in addition to a whopping $230 million it received last year from a fund formed by Andy Rubin, developer of the Android operating system.

The company was founded in 2016 by British professor Jeremy OBrien and three other academics, Terry Rudolph, Mark Thompson, and Pete Shadbolt. In just a few years, they have quietly grown the company from a few employees to a robust technical staff of more than 100.

Compared to today's modest quantum computing capabilities, PsiQuantum's elevator pitch for investors sounds like a line from a science fiction movie.O'Brien not only says he is going to build a fault-tolerant quantum computer with a staggering one million qubits, he also says he is going to do it within five years.O'Brien's technology of choice for this claim is silicon photonics, which uses particles of light called photons to perform quantum calculations. Theoretically, photons behave as both waves and particles,but that's a subject for another article.Quantum computing technologies in use today are primarily superconductors and trapped ion. However, there is plenty of research that shows photonics holds a lot of promise.

A look at qubit technologies

While classical computers use magnetic bits to depict ones and zeros for computation, quantum computers use a variety of other technologies to make quantum bits called qubits.

PsiQuantum's objective to build a quantum computer with a million qubits is a colossal undertaking. For perspective, today's biggest and best quantum computers have less than 100 qubits. Even that number stretches the limits of present-day quantum science.Google recently achieved quantum supremacy by performing a difficult computational task in a matter of seconds that would have taken a classical computer thousands of years to complete. Moreover, it only took a mere 54 qubits for that historic achievement.

I asked Robert Niffenegger, a research scientist at MIT Lincoln Labs, for his thoughts on PsiQuantum and its goal of a million qubits.Niffenegger said, "By setting a goal of a million qubits they emphasize that scale and integration are the only path forward and flaunt the fact that existing nano-photonics based on CMOS fabrication technologies is able to fabricate thousands of optical components on a single chip. However, even if they had very high-performance photonics on a single photonic chip the size of a wafer,that would at best get you maybe thousands of qubits."

Superconducting qubits

Superconducting qubits, the most commonly used technology for quantum computing, are the foundation of those built by Google, Intel, IBM, and Rigetti.The devices are basically small coils fabricated on chips that resemble those found in classical computers.

Optical and SEM images of a transmon qubit

Quantum effects kick in when the coils are cooled to a few degrees above absolute zero and become superconductors. At that temperature, current flows resistance free in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction and represents either a one or a zero or a superposition of everything between one and zero.

Superconducting qubits can be manufactured using existing chip fabrication techniques. A few drawbacks with superconducting qubits include:

1.)they lose their quantum states quickly, limiting the number of sequential calculations that can be performed on a problem.

2.)they can only connect to their nearest qubit neighbor. Several connections are needed to reach a distant qubit, much like steppingstones placed across a stream.Unfortunately, those extra connections slow down calculations and limit the complexity of problems that can be solved.

Trapped ion qubits

Trapped ions are the oldest qubit technology, dating back to the 1990s.Honeywell and IonQ are the most prominent commercial users of trapped ion qubits.Atomic clocks also use trapped-ion technology.

String of 14 trapped and entangled ions

Honeywell and IonQ use qubits formed from an isotope of rare-earth metal called ytterbium, although other materials can also be used. Precision lasers remove an outer electron from an atom of ytterbium to create an ion. Lasers are also used like tweezers to move ions around. Once in position, oscillating voltage fields hold the ions in place.

Compared to superconducting qubits, ions maintain their quantum states for a very long time. The longer a quantum state can be maintained, the more complex of a computation can be performed. Honeywell leveraged this attribute and recently announced it would have the world's most powerful quantum computer when its 8-qubit trapped ion machine is released in a few months.

Using light to make qubits

Instead of using coils or ions as qubits, PsiQuantum plans to build its quantum computer using single particles of light, called photons.

A photon can be vertically polarized to represent a one, or horizontally polarized as a zero, or even diagonally polarized to represent a superposition of both one and zero.

PsiQuantum's secret sauce is a 2009 research paper written by its founder, Jeremy OBrien.This research and other quantum tricks allow qubits to be encoded by photons traveling at the speed of light.

11.5 billion light-years away. Glowing hydrogen gas in the blob is in the Lyman-alpha optical image ... [+] ( yellow). On the right, a galaxy located in the blob is visible in a broadband optical image (white) and an infra-red image (red)

A significant advantage of photon qubits is that they maintain their quantum states for a very long time. Photons from distant stars and galaxies travel for thousands and even billions of years before reaching our eyes. A good example is a Lyman-alpha blob.Photons from the blob are still polarized in their original state when they reach earth after traveling for 11.5 billion years.

In addition to PsiQuantum, several other research groups are trying to figure out how to scale up photonic computers to more qubits.However, unlike PsiQuantum, none have a stated goal of a million qubits.

6 m diameter carbon filament, compared to 50 m diameter human hair

A photon qubit is very small.It has a wavelength of about one-millionth of a meter (m). In some ways, a photon's small size is an advantage, but in other ways its size creates obstacles that PsiQuantum must overcome to reach a million qubits.

Photons travel at the speed of light (after all, they are particles of light ), and that makes them very hard to control.

Imagine trying to manipulate something the size of a virus as it zips past you at a speed of 300,000,000 meters per second. Unlike superconducting qubits that are fixed in place and ions that remain stationary, photons are always in motion. It will be challenging to juggle the state of millions of blazing fast photons while simultaneously trying to read, control, and manipulate each one of them.

Observations and conclusions

Here are my thoughts and conclusions from an analyst's perspective:

1.PsiQuantum claims it will be able to do things in five years that many quantum experts predict will take 7 to 10 years or more to accomplish.

2.Silicon photonics appears to be a promising technology to build a quantum computer capable of solving complex problems that are far beyond the capabilities of classical supercomputers.Niffenegger also shared his thoughts on this: "I believe they [PsiQuantum] do have a path to becoming the 'supreme' heavyweight champion of the quantum crown, and I think that if they publish some smaller-scale demonstrations, then other people will start to believe it too."

3.Having Microsoft as a strategic investor will provide PsiQuantum with access to many critical resources needed to build a silicon photonic quantum computer.

4.Error correction is a significant quantum computing problem for every present-day qubit technology.According to publicly available information, PsiQuantum places a great deal of emphasis on error correction.That means a large portion of the million-qubit goal will likely be devoted to monitoring and correcting errors.For today's error prone qubits, it is estimated that thousands of error correcting qubits are required for every computation qubit.

5.Even ifPsiQuantum is only able to produce a thousand error corrected qubits, they will have created a fault-tolerant quantum computer that might change the world. It could create new drugs, design new materials, model DNA, and make thousands of other major scientific, medical, and commercial breakthroughs.

6.Remember, Microsoft had similar optimistic goals as PsiQuantum when it began research on a topological quantum computer.That was a decade ago. Tangible results today: zero.

PsiQuantum has made some outrageous claims that I believe will end in one of two ways. Either the company revolutionizes the space or flames out like few startups have flamed out flushing its investors time and money down the drain.

Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.

Disclosure: Moor Insights & Strategy, like all research and analyst firms, provides or has provided paid research, analysis, advising, or consulting to many high-tech companies in the industry, including, Advanced Micro Devices, Apstra,ARM Holdings, Aruba Networks, AWS, A-10 Strategies, Bitfusion,Cisco Systems, Dell, DellEMC, Dell Technologies, Diablo Technologies, Digital Optics, Dreamchain, Echelon, Ericsson, Foxconn, Frame, Fujitsu, Gen Z Consortium, Glue Networks, GlobalFoundries,Google,HPInc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise, HuaweiTechnologies,IBM, Intel, Interdigital, Jabil Circuit, Konica Minolta, Lattice Semiconductor, Lenovo, Linux Foundation, MACOM (Applied Micro), MapBox, Mavenir, Mesosphere,Microsoft,National Instruments, NetApp, NOKIA, Nortek,NVIDIA, ON Semiconductor, ONUG, OpenStack Foundation, Panasas, Peraso, Pixelworks, Plume Design, Portworx, Pure Storage,Qualcomm, Rackspace, Rambus, Rayvolt E-Bikes, Red Hat, Samsung Electronics, Silver Peak, SONY, Springpath, Sprint, Stratus Technologies, Symantec, Synaptics, Syniverse, TensTorrent, Tobii Technology, Twitter, Unity Technologies, Verizon Communications,Vidyo, Wave Computing, Wellsmith, Xilinx, Zebra, which may be cited in this article.


Quantum Computing With Particles Of Light: A $215 Million Gamble - Forbes

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Quantum computing heats up down under as researchers reckon they know how to cut costs and improve stability – The Register

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Boffins claim to have found path to 'real-world applications' by running hot

Dr Henry Yang and Professor Andrew Dzurak: hot qubits are a game-changer for quantum computing development. Pic credit: Paul Henderson-Kelly

Scientists in Australia are claiming to have made a breakthrough in the field of quantum computing which could ease the technology's progress to affordability and mass production.

A paper by researchers led by Professor Andrew Dzurak at Sydney's University of New South Wales published in Nature today says they have demonstrated quantum computing at temperatures 15 times warmer than previously thought possible.

Temperature is important to quantum computing because quantum bits (qubits) the equivalent classical computing bits running the computer displaying this story can exist in superconducting circuits or form within semiconductors only at very low temperatures.

Most quantum computers being developed by the likes of IBM and Google form qubits at temperatures within 0.1 degrees above absolute zero or -273.15C (-459.67F). These solid-state platforms require cooling to extremely low temperatures because vibrations generated by heat disrupt the qubits, which can impede performance. Getting this cold requires expensive dilution refrigerators.

Artistic representation of quantum entanglement. Pic credit: Luca Petit for QuTech

But Dzurak's team has shown that they can maintain stable "hotbits" at temperatures up to 15 times higher than existing technologies. That is a sweltering 1.5 Kelvin (-271.65C). It might not seem like much, but it could make a big difference when it comes to scaling quantum computers and getting them one step closer to practical applications.

"For most solid-state qubit technologies for example, those using superconducting circuits or semiconductor spins scaling poses a considerable challenge because every additional qubit increases the heat generated, whereas the cooling power of dilution refrigerators is severely limited at their operating temperature. As temperatures rise above 1 Kelvin, the cost drops substantially and the efficiency improves. In addition, using silicon-based platforms is attractive, as this can assist integration into classical systems that use existing silicon-based hardware," the paper says.

Keeping temperature at around 1.5 Kelvin can be achieved using a few thousand dollars' worth of refrigeration, rather than the millions of dollars needed to cool chips to 0.1 Kelvin, Dzurak said.

"Our new results open a path from experimental devices to affordable quantum computers for real-world business and government applications," he added.

The researchers used "isotopically enriched silicon" but the proof of concept published today promises cheaper and more robust quantum computing which can be built on hardware using conventional silicon chip foundries, they said.

Nature published another independent study by Dr Menno Veldhorst and colleagues at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands which details a quantum circuit that operates at 1.1 Kelvin, confirming the breakthrough.

If made more practical and cheaper, quantum computers could represent a leap forward in information science. Whereas the bit in classical computing either represents a one or a zero, qubits superimpose one and zero, representing both states at the same time. This creates an exponential improvement in performances such that so eight qubits theoretically have two to eight times the performance of eight bits. For example, Google and NASA have demonstrated that a quantum computer with 1,097 qubits outperformed existing supercomputers by more than 3,600 times and personal computers by 100 million.

While the experimental nature and cost of quantum computing means it is unlikely to make it into any business setup soon, anything to make the approach more practical could make a big difference to scientific computational challenges such as protein folding. The problem of how to predict the structure of a protein from its amino acid sequence is important for understanding how proteins function in a wide range of biological processes and could potentially help design better medicines.

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Quantum computing heats up down under as researchers reckon they know how to cut costs and improve stability - The Register

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The future of quantum computing in the cloud – TechTarget

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Published: 17 Apr 2020

AWS, Microsoft and other IaaS providers have jumped on the quantum computing bandwagon as they try to get ahead of the curve on this emerging technology.

Developers use quantum computing to encode problems as qubits, which compute multiple combinations of variables at once rather than exploring each possibility discretely. In theory, this could allow researchers to quickly solve problems involving different combinations of variables, such as breaking encryption keys, testing the properties of different chemical compounds or simulating different business models. Researchers have begun to demonstrate real-world examples of how these early quantum computers could be put to use.

However, this technology is still being developed, so experts caution that it could take more than a decade for quantum computing to deliver practical value. In the meantime, there are a few cloud services, such as Amazon Bracket and Microsoft Quantum, that aim to get developers up to speed on writing quantum applications.

Quantum computing in the cloud has the potential to disrupt industries in a similar way as other emerging technologies, such as AI and machine learning. But quantum computing is still being established in university classrooms and career paths, said Bob Sutor, vice president of IBM Quantum Ecosystem Development. Similarly, major cloud providers are focusing primarily on education at this early stage.

"The cloud services today are aimed at preparing the industry for the soon-to-arrive day when quantum computers will begin being useful," said Itamar Sivan, co-founder and CEO of Quantum Machines, an orchestration platform for quantum computing.

There's still much to iron out regarding quantum computing and the cloud, but the two technologies appear to be a logical fit, for now.

Cloud-based quantum computing is more difficult to pull off than AI, so the ramp up will be slower and the learning curve steeper, said Martin Reynolds, distinguished vice president of research at Gartner. For starters, quantum computers require highly specialized room conditions that are dramatically different from how cloud providers build and operate their existing data centers.

Reynolds believes practical quantum computers are at least a decade away. The biggest drawback lies in aligning the quantum state of qubits in the computer with a given problem, especially since quantumcomputersstill haven't been proven to solve problems better than traditional computers.

Coders also must learn new math and logic skills to utilize quantum computing. This makes it hard for them since they can't apply traditional digital programming techniques. IT teams need to develop specialized skills to understand how to apply quantum computing in the cloud so they can fine tune the algorithms, as well as the hardware, to make this technology work.

Current limitations aside, the cloud is an ideal way to consume quantum computing, because quantum computing has low I/O but deep computation, Reynolds said. Because cloud vendors have the technological resources and a large pool of users, they will inevitably be some of the first quantum-as-a-service providers and will look for ways to provide the best software development and deployment stacks.

Quantum computing could even supplement general compute and AI services cloud providers currently offer, said Tony Uttley, president of Honeywell Quantum Solutions.In that scenario, the cloud would integrate with classical computing cloud resources in a co-processing environment.

The cloud plays two key roles in quantum computing today, according to Hyoun Park, CEO and principal analyst at Amalgam Insights. The first is to provide an application development and test environment for developers to simulate the use of quantum computers through standard computing resources.

The second is to offer access to the few quantum computers that are currently available, in the way mainframe leasing was common a generation ago. This improves the financial viability of quantum computing, since multiple users can increase machine utilization.

It takes significant computing power to simulate quantum algorithm behavior from a development and testing perspective. For the most part, cloud vendors want to provide an environment to develop quantum algorithms before loading these quantum applications onto dedicated hardware from other providers, which can be quite expensive.

However, classical simulations of quantum algorithms that use large numbers of qubits are not practical. "The issue is that the size of the classical computer needed will grow exponentially with the number of qubits in the machine," said Doug Finke, publisher of the Quantum Computing Report.So, a classical simulation of a 50-qubit quantum computer would require a classical computer with roughly 1 petabyte of memory. This requirement will double with every additional qubit.

Nobody knows which approach is best, or which materials are best. We're at the Edison light bulb filament stage. Martin ReynoldsDistinguished vice president of research at Gartner

But classical simulations for problems using a smaller number of qubits are useful both as a tool to teach quantum algorithms to students and also for quantum software engineers to test and debug algorithms with "toy models" for their problem, Finke said.Once they debug their software, they should be able to scale it up to solve larger problems on a real quantum computer.

In terms of putting quantum computing to use, organizations can currently use it to support last-mile optimization, encryption and other computationally challenging issues, Park said. This technology could also aid teams across logistics, cybersecurity, predictive equipment maintenance, weather predictions and more. Researchers can explore multiple combinations of variables in these kinds of problems simultaneously, whereas a traditional computer needs to compute each combination separately.

However, there are some drawbacks to quantum computing in the cloud. Developers should proceed cautiously when experimenting with applications that involve sensitive data, said Finke. To address this, many organizations prefer to install quantum hardware in their own facilities despite the operational hassles, Finke said.

Also, a machine may not be immediately available when a quantum developer wants to submit a job through quantum services on the public cloud. "The machines will have job queues and sometimes there may be several jobs ahead of you when you want to run your own job," Finke said. Some of the vendors have implemented a reservation capability so a user can book a quantum computer for a set time period to eliminate this problem.

IBM was first to market with its Quantum Experience offering, which launched in 2016 and now has over 15 quantum computers connected to the cloud. Over 210,000 registered users have executed more than 70 billion circuits through the IBM Cloud and published over 200 papers based on the system, according to IBM.

IBM also started the Qiskit open source quantum software development platform and has been building an open community around it. According to GitHub statistics, it is currently the leading quantum development environment.

In late 2019, AWS and Microsoft introduced quantum cloud services offered through partners.

Microsoft Quantum provides a quantum algorithm development environment, and from there users can transfer quantum algorithms to Honeywell, IonQ or Quantum Circuits Inc. hardware. Microsoft's Q# scripting offers a familiar Visual Studio experience for quantum problems, said Michael Morris, CEO of Topcoder, an on-demand digital talent platform.

Currently, this transfer involves the cloud providers installing a high-speed communication link from their data center to the quantum computer facilities, Finke said. This approach has many advantages from a logistics standpoint, because it makes things like maintenance, spare parts, calibration and physical infrastructure a lot easier.

Amazon Braket similarly provides a quantum development environment and, when generally available, will provide time-based pricing to access D-Wave, IonQ and Rigetti hardware. Amazon says it will add more hardware partners as well. Braket offers a variety of different hardware architecture options through a common high-level programming interface, so users can test out the machines from the various partners and determine which one would work best with their application, Finke said.

Google has done considerable core research on quantum computing in the cloud and is expected to launch a cloud computing service later this year. Google has been more focused on developing its in-house quantum computing capabilities and hardware rather than providing access to these tools to its cloud users, Park said. In the meantime, developers can test out quantum algorithms locally using Google's Circ programming environment for writing apps in Python.

In addition to the larger offerings from the major cloud providers, there are several alternative approaches to implementing quantum computers that are being provided through the cloud.

D-Wave is the furthest along, with a quantum annealer well-suited for many optimization problems. Other alternatives include QuTech, which is working on a cloud offering of its small quantum machine utilizing its spin qubits technology. Xanadu is another and is developing a quantum machine based on a photonic technology.

Researchers are pursuing a variety of approaches to quantum computing -- using electrons, ions or photons -- and it's not yet clear which approaches will pan out for practical applications first.

"Nobody knows which approach is best, or which materials are best. We're at the Edison light bulb filament stage, where Edison reportedly tested thousands of ways to make a carbon filament until he got to one that lasted 1,500 hours," Reynolds said. In the meantime, recent cloud offerings promise to enable developers to start experimenting with these different approaches to get a taste of what's to come.

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The future of quantum computing in the cloud - TechTarget

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World coronavirus Dispatch: Quantum Computing Market Recent Trends and Developments, Challenges and Opportunities, key drivers and Restraints over the…

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Quantum Computing Market report 2018, discusses various factors driving or restraining the market, which will help the future market to grow with promising CAGR. The Quantum Computing Market research Reports offers an extensive collection of reports on different markets covering crucial details. The report studies the competitive environment of the Quantum Computing Market is based on company profiles and their efforts on increasing product value and production.

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World coronavirus Dispatch: Quantum Computing Market Recent Trends and Developments, Challenges and Opportunities, key drivers and Restraints over the...

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Quantum Computing Market 2020 Break Down by Top Companies, Applications, Challenges, Opportunities and Forecast 2026 Cole Reports – Cole of Duty

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Quantum Computing Market: Competitive Landscape

The last chapter of the Quantum Computing market research report focuses exclusively on the competitive landscape. It examines the main market players. In addition to a brief overview of the business, analysts provide information on their assessment and development. The list of important products in preparation is also mentioned. The competitive landscape is analyzed by understanding the companies strategies and the initiatives they have taken in recent years to overcome intense competition.

Quantum Computing Market: Drivers and Restraints

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The research report also explains the potential restrictions on the Quantum Computing market. The aspects assessed are likely to hamper market growth in the near future. In addition to this assessment, it offers a list of opportunities that could prove lucrative for the entire market. Analysts offer solutions to turn threats and restrictions into successful opportunities in the years to come.

Quantum Computing Market: Regional Segmentation

In the following chapters, analysts have examined the regional segments of the Quantum Computing market. This gives readers a deeper insight into the global market and allows for a closer look at the elements that could determine its evolution. Countless regional aspects, such as the effects of culture, environment and government policies, which affect regional markets are highlighted.

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Science of Star Trek – The UCSB Current

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In the most recent episode of his YouTube series Science vs. Cinema, UC Santa Barbara physicist Andy Howell takes on Star Trek: Picard, exploring how the CBS offerings presentation of supernovae and quantum computing stack up against real world science.

For Howell, the series that reviews the scientific accuracy and portrayal of scientists in Hollywoods top sci-fi films is as much an excuse to dive into exciting scientific concepts and cutting edge research.

Science fiction writers are fond of grappling with deep philosophical questions, he said. I was really excited to see that UCSB researchers were thinking about some of the same things in a more grounded way.

For the Star Trek episode, Howell spoke with series creators Alex Kurtzman and Michael Chabon, as well as a number of cast members, including Patrick Stewart. Joining him to discuss quantum science and consciousness were John Martinis a quantum expert at UC Santa Barbara and chief scientist of the Google quantum computing hardware group and fellow UCSB Physics professor Matthew Fisher. Fishers group is studying whether quantum mechanics plays a role in the brain, a topic taken up in the new Star Trek series.

Howell also talked supernovae and viticulture with friend and colleague Brian Schmidt, vice- chancellor of the Australian National University. Schmidt won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for helping to discover that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.

"We started Science vs. Cinema to use movies as a jumping-off point to talk science Howell said. Star Trek Picard seemed like the perfect fit. Star Trek has a huge cultural impact and was even one of the things that made me want to study astronomy.

Previous episodes of Science vs. Cinema have separated fact from fiction in films such as Star Wars, The Current War, Ad Astra, Arrival and The Martian. The success of prior episodes enabled Howell to get early access to the show and interview the cast and crew.

"What most people think about scientific subjects probably isn't what they learned in a university class, but what they saw in a movie, Howell remarked. That makes movies an ideal springboard for introducing scientific concepts. And while I can only reach dozens of students at a time in a classroom, I can reach millions on TV or the internet.

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Science of Star Trek - The UCSB Current

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Defense budget cuts following the pandemic will be hard to swallow | TheHill – The Hill

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Congress has appropriated more than $2.25 trillion to counter the impact of COVID-19 on American families and the economy. It is likely to spend even more once legislators return from their recess in early May. This unprecedented level of expenditure is resulting in a massive deficit and national debt levels that are likely to exceed 120 percent of the nations gross domestic product, especially as GDP growth itself is no longer a foregone conclusion. In turn, there will be renewed pressure on the defense budget, which already is forecast to have no real growth in fiscal year 2021.

Interest on the national debt, which at some point will begin to rise again, will create a massive burden on annual federal budgets. The demand for increases in domestic spending will be difficult to ignore in the aftermath of the pandemic. For these reasons, it is not beyond the realm of probability that defense budgets beginning in fiscal year 2022 will not even grow in nominal terms.

Even if the Department of Defense (DOD) had been forced to address only the reality of no real growth in defense spending as opposed to the additional burden of minimal nominal growth it would have had to re-evaluate its spending priorities. Historically, when DOD has been forced to undertake what it terms cut drills, these have been done with the greatest reluctance, and at times have been completed with little analysis of the implications of potential trade-offs. Invariably, what resulted from these efforts were reductions in spending for operations and maintenance, force level reductions, or the shedding of research and development of untried weapons and systems. On the other hand, the department and especially the armed services were exceedingly reluctant to dispense with longstanding legacy programs.

This time, however, DOD faces a budget challenge of unmatched proportions. Defense budgets are certain to decline in real terms. Indeed, should the Democratic Party take the White House or the Senate (or both) in the upcoming elections, even deeper cuts in defense are sure to follow. Yet the threats posed by China and Russia, already projected to increase, may well prove to be even greater in the face of a weakened and disorganized West. The DOD, therefore, will have to take seriously the need for a fundamental re-evaluation of its priorities, and not merely undertake another cut drill.

The last time the department fundamentally shifted its focus was in the early 1990s, when its base force resulted in a 25 percent reduction in force structure, a 20 percent reduction in manpower relative to fiscal year 1990 and a 10 percent reduction in budget authority. DOD may have to consider launching an effort along similar lines if it is not to be caught flat-footed next year, as a result of either the full budget impact of coronavirus spending or the November elections, or both.

As with the base force, force levels are a likely target for reductions. Pay and benefits, to include family housing, are untouchable because they are key to maintaining a top-level volunteer force. This is especially critical at this time because, in the aftermath of the viruss spread within the military, it may prove difficult for the services to maintain their recruitment objectives. Similarly, operations and maintenance budgets cannot be tampered with to maintain deterrence against possible new adventurism on the part of Russia, China, North Korea or Iran.

Apart from force-level reductions, therefore, the only other candidates for cuts are research and development and the procurement accounts. Reductions in R&D, typically favored in cut drills, will be more difficult, given the need to maintain an advantage over Russia and China in the realms of hypersonics, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and other cutting-edge technologies. Procurement accounts are thus the only remaining targets for budget reductions.

Budget cutters for years have zeroed in on the strategic nuclear triad, and current plans for its modernization offer them new targets. Global Strike Command is seeking $200 billion over the next decade to fund new bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles, command and control and related supporting elements of the strategic nuclear triad. On the other hand, longtime opponents of spending on strategic nuclear forces will argue against the need for a new bomber, and instead will call for converting the strategic nuclear triad to a dyad of land- and submarine-based missiles. Other critics of the triad may support the bomber program and might prefer dispensing with the land-based leg in favor of the bomber and submarine legs. Budget pressures will underscore both sets of arguments.

With respect to general purpose forces, there no doubt will be a renewed call to halt all aircraft carrier procurement beyond the two Ford class carriers under construction, or at best to support construction of one more. Even President TrumpDonald John TrumpWuhan lab denies claims of coronavirus origination Banks say they ran out of PPP funding 'within minutes' Trump defends testing capabilities, blasts critics during WH briefing MORE at one point voiced his concern about the program. Given its skyrocketing costs, the F-35 also may find itself in the crosshairs of budget hawks. The Army recently dropped its program to develop an Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, its third attempt to replace the 1980s Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, only to renew it several weeks later. It might have to drop it again. Finally, there have long been calls for a re-evaluation of the elements and costs of the nearly four-decades-old missile defense program.

Cutting procurement is always a difficult pill for the services to swallow, and this time will be no different. No doubt DOD will point to the need to maintain the defense industrial base, and workers jobs, as a reason for avoiding major reductions in defense procurement. That argument certainly will resonate with Congress. This time, however, the case for resisting change may be overwhelmed by the impact of a plague that has caught the nation unprepared and may well return with even greater force in the months or years ahead.

Dov S. Zakheim is a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and vice chairman of the board for the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He was under secretary of Defense (comptroller) and chief financial officer for the Department of Defense from 2001 to 2004 and a deputy under secretary of Defense from 1985 to 1987.

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Defense budget cuts following the pandemic will be hard to swallow | TheHill - The Hill

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April 19th, 2020 at 2:52 pm

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Pentagon wants commercial, space-based quantum sensors within 2 years – The Sociable

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The Pentagons Defense Innovation Unit is looking to the private sector to develop space-based quantum sensing prototypes within two years the kind of sensors that could contribute to a space-based quantum internet.


Quantum technologies will render all previously existing stealth, encryption, and communications technologies obsolete, so naturally the Pentagon wants to develop quantum technologies as a matter of national security.

The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) has opened a solicitation to evaluate commercial solutions that utilize demonstrable quantum technology to achieve significant performance improvements for aerospace and other novel applications to include, but not limited to, inertial sensing, timing and gravimetry.

The DIU wants a prototype within 24 months that consists of acompact, high-performance quantum sensor for precision inertial measurement in deep space and other GPS-denied environments.

There are a lot of technical concepts that go into this technology, but for simplicitys sake, the DIU is looking for quantum sensing technology that can perform accurate measurements by overcoming the effects of gravity on time and space.

While the DIU did not go into any specifics about what the quantum sensing technology would actually be used for, we may gleam some ideas from what the military has already been researching specifically improved communications, precision navigation, and precision timing.

For example, the Air Force Research Laboratory has been investigating a variety of quantum-based sensors to create secure, jam-resistant alternatives to GPS, according to National Defense Magazine.

And because quantum sensors can detect radar signatures and beyond, they may be used by the military tobypass just about any stealth technology.

Other potential applications could include Earth defense mechanisms that could detect, prevent, or respond to missile attacks, asteroids, and comets, as well as keeping track of satellites and space debris that whiz around Earths orbit.

Additionally, a network of quantum technologies could offer the military security, sensing and timekeeping capabilities not possible with traditional networking approaches, according to the US Army Research Laboratory.

If we take the idea of quantum sensors a step further and into the realm of quantum sensing networks, then we are looking at one component of a quantum internet, when combined with quantum computing.

A quantum internet will be the platform of a quantum ecosystem, where computers, networks, and sensors exchange information in a fundamentally new manner where sensing, communication, and computing literally work together as one entity, Argonne Laboratory senior scientistDavid Awschalom told How Stuff Works.

The notion of a space-based quantum internet using satellite constellations is becoming even more enticing, as evidenced in the joint research paper, Spooky Action at a Global Distance Resource-Rate Analysis of a Space-Based Entanglement-Distribution Network for the Quantum Internet.

According to the scientists, Recent experimental breakthroughs in satellite quantum communications have opened up the possibility of creating a global quantum internet using satellite links, and, This approach appears to be particularly viable in the near term.

The paper seems to describe quantum technologies that are nearly identical to the ones the DIU is looking to build.

Aquantum internet would allow for the execution of other quantum-information-processing tasks, such as quantum teleportation, quantum clock synchronization, distributed quantum computation, and distributedquantum metrology and sensing, it reads.

SpaceX is already building a space-based internet through its Starlink program. Starlink looks to have 12,000 satellites orbiting the earth in a constellation that will beam high-speed internet to even the most remote parts of the planet.

The company led by Elon Musk has already launched some 360 satellites as part of the Starlink constellation.

All the news reports say that Starlink will provide either high-speed or broadband internet, and there are no mentions of SpaceX building a quantum internet, but the idea is an intriguing one.

SpaceX is already working with the Pentagon, the Air Force, NASA, and other government and defense entities.

In 2018, SpaceX won a $28.7 million fixed-price contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory for experiments in data connectivity involving ground sites, aircraft and space assets a project that could give a boost to the companys Starlink broadband satellite service, according to GeekWire.

Lets recap:

By the looks of it, the DIUs space-based quantum sensing prototypes could very well be components of a space-based quantum internet.

However, there has been no announcement from SpaceX saying that Starlink will be beaming down a quantum internet.

At any rate, well soon be looking at high-speed, broadband internet from above in the near future, quantum or otherwise.

Quantum computing: collaboration with the multiverse?

US Energy Dept lays foundation for quantum internet, funds $625M to establish quantum research centers over 5 years

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Pentagon wants commercial, space-based quantum sensors within 2 years - The Sociable

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April 19th, 2020 at 2:52 pm

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RAND report finds that, like fusion power and Half Life 3, quantum computing is still 15 years away – The Register

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Quantum computers pose an "urgent but manageable" threat to the security of modern communications systems, according to a report published Thursday by influential US RAND Corporation.

The non-profit think tank's report, "Securing Communications in the Quantum Computing Age: Managing the Risks to Encryption," urges the US government to act quickly because quantum code-breaking could be a thing in, say, 12-15 years.

If adequate implementation of new security measures has not taken place by the time capable quantum computers are developed, it may become impossible to ensure secure authentication and communication privacy without major, disruptive changes, said Michael Vermeer, a RAND scientist and lead author of the report in a statement.

Experts in the field of quantum computing like University of Texas at Austin computer scientist Scott Aaronson have proposed an even hazier timeline.

Noting that the quantum computers built by Google and IBM have been in the neighborhood of 50 to 100 quantum bits (qubits) and that running Shor's algorithm to break public key RSA cryptosystems would probably take several thousand logical qubits meaning millions of physical qubits due to error correction Aaronson recently opined, "I dont think anyone is close to that, and we have no idea how long it will take."

But other boffins, like University of Chicago computer science professor Diana Franklin, have suggested Shor's algorithm might be a possibility in a decade and a half.

So even though quantum computing poses a theoretical threat to most current public-key cryptography and less risk for lattice-based, symmetric, privacy key, post-quantum, and quantum cryptography there's not much consensus about how and when this threat might manifest itself.

Nonetheless, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the US government agency overseeing tech standards, has been pushing the development of quantum-resistant cryptography since at least 2016. Last year it winnowed a list of proposed post-quantum crypto (PQC) algorithms down to a field of 26 contenders.

The RAND report anticipates quantum computers capable of crypto-cracking will be functional by 2033, with the caveat that experts propose dates both before and after that. PQC algorithm standards should gel within the next five years, with adoption not expected until the mid-to-late 2030s, or later.

But the amount of time required for the US and the rest of the world to fully implement those protocols to mitigate the risk of quantum crypto cracking may take longer still. Note that the US government is still running COBOL applications on ancient mainframes.

"If adequate implementation of PQC has not taken place by the time capable quantum computers are developed, it may become impossible to ensure secure authentication and communication privacy without major, disruptive changes to our infrastructure," the report says.

RAND's report further notes that consumer lack of awareness and indifference to the issue means there will be no civic demand for change.

Hence, the report urges federal leadership to protect consumers, perhaps unaware that Congress is considering the EARN-IT Act, which critics characterize as an "all-out assault on encryption."

"If we act in time with appropriate policies, risk reduction measures, and a collective urgency to prepare for the threat, then we have an opportunity for a future communications infrastructure that is as safe as or more safe than the current status quo, despite overlapping cyber threats from conventional and quantum computers," the report concludes.

It's worth recalling that a 2017 National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report, "Global Health and the Future Role of the United States," urged the US to maintain its focus on global health security and to prepare for infection disease threats.

That was the same year nonprofit PATH issued a pandemic prevention report urging the US government to "maintain its leadership position backed up by the necessary resources to ensure continued vigilance against emerging pandemic threats, both at home and abroad."

The federal government's reaction to COVID-19 is a testament to the impact of reports from external organizations. We can only hope that the threat of crypto-cracking quantum computers elicits a response that's at least as vigorous.

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RAND report finds that, like fusion power and Half Life 3, quantum computing is still 15 years away - The Register

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Microsoft invests in PsiQuantum, a startup which is building the worlds first useful quantum computer – MSPoweruser – MSPoweruser

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Microsoft has been working on quantum computers for several years now. Last year, Microsoft announced Azure Quantum, a full-stack, open cloud ecosystem that will bring the benefits of quantum computing organizations.Microsoft launched Quantum Network, a global community of individuals and organizations working together to advance quantum computing. The Microsoft Quantum Network members will work with Microsoft to learn about, research, and launch quantum computing applications and hardware supported with access to the Quantum Development Kit, vital research and experts, exclusive access to Azure services, and workshops on quantum programming and algorithm development.

Yesterday, Telegraph reported that Microsofts venture capital arm M12 invested in PsiQuantum, a startup with the goal to build the worlds first useful quantum computer out of conventional silicon chips that process information using individual photons as well as electronics. This means that every single component of the quantum computer is made by the same factories and assembled on the same production lines as your laptop or smartphone. PsiQuantum have assembled a team of more than 100 engineers with expertise across all aspects of silicon manufacturing and error corrected quantum computing.

Its worth noting that PsiQuantums approach is different from Microsofts efforts in topological qubits (Microsofts approach would enable error correction in hardware via topological protection from local noise). PsiQuantum and Microsoft have different sets of engineering challenges to address with their distinct approaches, but the companies share the vision for a scalable, fault tolerant quantum computer, said Samir Kumar from M12.

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Microsoft invests in PsiQuantum, a startup which is building the worlds first useful quantum computer - MSPoweruser - MSPoweruser

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