Why Quantum Computing Is Even More Dangerous Than Artificial Intelligence


Publish Date:
August 21, 2022
Publication Title:
Foreign Policy
Op-Ed or Opinion Piece
  • Vivek Wadhwa & Mauritz Kop, Why Quantum Computing Is Even More Dangerous Than Artificial Intelligence, Foreign Policy, August 21, 2022.
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Given the potential scope and capabilities of second generation (2G) quantum technology, it is crucial not to repeat the mistakes made with AI—where regulatory failure has given us algorithmic bias that hypercharges human prejudices, algorithms that favor conspiracy theories, and attacks on the institutions of democracy fueled by AI-generated fake news and social media echo chambers. The world must not repeat the mistakes it made by refusing to regulate AI. In fact, the quantum community itself has issued a call for action to immediately address these matters. We urgently need to understand this technology’s potential impact, regulate it, and prevent it from getting into the wrong hands—before it is too late.

Snapshotting technology maturity, we estimate different technology readiness levels (TRLs) per quantum domain, such as computing, sensing, simulation, cryptography, communication networks, and quantum-AI hybrids. At present, part of the quantum physics remains theoretical, yet real world systems are being tested in the lab -of which we included examples-, prepared to be introduced into the markets. Because of the technology’s immense potential power and revolutionary applications, its expected economic impact, and national security & defense issues involved, this kind of research & development is often shrouded in secrecy, and there are a lot of claims and speculation about milestones being reached.

Though still in its infancy, quantum computing operates on a very different basis from today’s semiconductor-based computers. Experiments are also working to combine quantum computing with AI to transcend traditional computers’ limits. If quantum mechanical effects like uncertainty, superposition, entanglement, teleportation, and tunneling leave the experimental stage and make it into everyday applications, it will find many uses and change many aspects of life.

Imagine what one could do with future systems that merge a classical supercomputer with a quantum computer, either in the cloud or on premises. Access to these powerful tools needs to be regulated to avoid the nightmares. In addition, critical public and private intellectual property and know how on quantum-enabling technologies must be protected from theft and abuse by the United States’ adversaries. While incentivizing innovation, we cannot let these systems, materials, software, and data, fall into the wrong hands, domestically or abroad.

The Biden administration considers the risk of losing the quantum computing innovation race from China’s techno-authoritarianism imminent and dire enough that it issued two presidential directives in May 2022: one to place the National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee directly under the authority of the White House and another to direct government agencies to ensure U.S. leadership in quantum computing while mitigating the potential security risks quantum computing poses to cryptographic systems.

To avoid the ethical problems that went so horribly wrong with AI and machine learning, democratic nations need to institute controls that both correspond to the predicted power of the emerging suite of second generation quantum technologies and respect & reinforce democratic values, human rights, and fundamental freedoms. Benefits and increased quantum driven prosperity should be equitably shared among members of society, and risks equally distributed. Governments must urgently begin to think about regulation, standards, and responsible use—and learn from the way countries handled or mishandled other revolutionary technologies, including AI, nanotechnology, biotechnology, semiconductors, and nuclear fission. The United States and other democratic nations must not make the same mistake they made with AI—and prepare for tomorrow’s quantum era today.

Vivek Wadhwa is an academic, entrepreneur, and author. Mauritz Kop is a fellow and visiting scholar at Stanford University. They are collaborating on a book, “Scarcity, Regulation, and the Abundance Society” with Mark Lemley of Stanford Law and Devin Desai of Georgia Institute of Technology.

Read the full article at Foreign Policy: https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/08/21/quantum-computing-artificial-intelligence-ai-technology-regulation/