Tuesday, July 16, 2024
HomeNewsScience & TechnologyGovernment's ban on quantum computer exports has no scientific basis

Government’s ban on quantum computer exports has no scientific basis

Quantum computer isolated on black.  Golden gears, quantum computing, quantum cryptography, steampunk, Q-bit, parallel computing.  3D Illustration, 3D Rendering; Shutterstock ID 2218001269; Purchase Order: -; Job: -; Client: -; Others: -

Shutterstock/Marko Aliaksandr

Imagine if governments around the world announced restrictions on the sale of rulers that are 34 centimeters long. You’ll be confused because there doesn’t seem to be anything special about this length – and a 34cm ruler doesn’t exist.

Such legislation is laughable, but some countries have already enacted similar legislation for quantum computers (see “Several countries impose mysterious export controls on quantum computers”). These limitations — which limit the egress of computers with 34 or more qubits, or qubits, and error rates below a certain threshold — are puzzling because, according to all published research Research, such devices have no practical use.

But the peculiarity of this figure shows some of the thinking behind it. Clearly, someone somewhere is concerned about the malicious use of these devices (most likely their potential to break widely used encryption methods) and wants to restrict them in the name of national security.

So what happened? There are two possibilities here: either they are wrong, as the scientific evidence suggests, and pointless legislation is now being cut and pasted around the world, or they are right and have now reminded their opponents that this is Numbers worth watching. Both possibilities seem counterproductive, but without knowing the research behind these limitations, there’s no way to know for sure.

One of the great advantages of science is that it is an open enterprise. Despite its shortcomings, peer review allows us to tap into ideas from around the world to review and improve research. Our approach to policymaking should be no different.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change demonstrates just how powerful this can be. By making comprehensive research publicly available, it enables policymakers to understand what needs to be done to combat climate change and allows others to use this evidence base to analyze policy decisions. Likewise, research published during the covid-19 pandemic allows for public discussion of the rules that have been imposed on us. Simply pulling a number out of the air (as is the case with quantum computers) is not the way to govern.




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