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by Kevin Coupe

The Washington Post has a fascinating story about how in China research is being done that could result in an enormous technological leap ahead of the United States.

The research means that “hacking-resistant communications networks” are being built across China, sensors are being designed “to see through smog and around corners,” and prototypes are being build of “computers that may someday smash the computational power of any existing machine.

“All the gear is based on quantum technology — an emerging field that could transform information processing and confer big economic and national-security advantages to countries that dominate it. To the dismay of some scientists and officials in the United States, China’s formidable investment is helping it catch up with Western research in the field and, in a few areas, pull ahead … Beijing is pouring billions into research and development and is offering Chinese scientists big perks to return home from Western labs. China’s drive has sparked calls for more R&D funding in the United States.”

The story defines quantum technology as seeking “to harness the distinct properties of atoms, photons and electrons to build more powerful tools for processing information.”

The Post writes that “last year, China had nearly twice as many patent filings as the United States for quantum technology overall, a category that includes communications and cryptology devices, according to market research firm Patinformatics. The United States, though, leads the world in patents relating to the most prized segment of the field — quantum computers — thanks to heavy investment by IBM, Google, Microsoft and others.”

In a recent report from the Center for a New American Security, it was said that “the United States must be prepared for a future in which its traditional technological predominance faces new, perhaps unprecedented challenges.”

It is an Eye Opening piece (and you can read the story in its entirety here). Quantum technology is way, way, way above my pay grade, but it seems to me that this story has a lot of implications that have nothing to do with technology.
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