Why Is Congress Interested in Quantum Computing?

Racepoint Global

Written by: Natalie Houck-Meloni – Account Executive, Racepoint Global D.C.

Members of Congress are spending more time than ever focused on how technology companies have changed the world we live in – for better, or worse. From privacy debates and cybersecurity concerns to protecting America’s competitive advantage in the 21st century, policymakers are grappling with where technology has taken us – often at a pace faster than government tends to work. And, beyond that, they’re working on ensuring that they don’t get eclipsed by the next generation of technological innovations.

That’s why, earlier this month, the House Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection held a hearing as part of their #DisrupterSeries to learn from experts who are leading the way on quantum computing.

Billed as the next great leap in computer technology, quantum computing offers a path beyond the boundaries of Moore’s Law, enabling exponentially more processing power than is conceivably possible with today’s silicon-based chips. Quantum computing moves data processing away from the traditional binary system and uses the principals of quantum mechanics to speedily manipulate massive amounts of information. This revolution is – at best – a decade away from reaching the market – but it’s telling that Congress is already looking at the implications of this technology.

Subcommittee Chairman Bob Latta (R-OH) said in his opening statement, “Whichever nation first develops a practical quantum computer will have a tremendous advantage over its foreign peers,” establishing the stakes and indicating why the US government is interested in this technology that, as of yet, only exists in research laboratories.

Witness Diana Franklin, a professor at the University of Chicago, explained that it is up to policymakers to help create an ecosystem that encourages development of quantum computing devices, saying “While the United States is on the forefront of many technologies, gaps in funding have left the U.S. scrambling to stay ahead in quantum computing.”

These hearings underscore the desire from Congress to educate themselves on technology revolutions in order to identify security concerns, determine regulatory needs and ensure that the United States can compete with the rest of the world when it comes to the next generation of technology.

There is a global race to understand, master and implement new technologies.  Lawmakers have begun the processes that could result in policies to encourage investment or set guidelines for any regulatory concerns around these promising breakthroughs. For today’s innovators working in technological fields, this interest from Congress – and the call from experts to increase American competitiveness – signals an opportunity to cement yourself as a leader, influencing the policies that will affect the growth of next-generation industries.