NIST Launches Group to Bring Quantum Computing Closer to Reality | TechWell

NIST Launches Group to Bring Quantum Computing Closer to Reality

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Is quantum information science the next frontier in the Information Age? The buzz around quantum computers has been around for a while, but many feel that for long-term success, a road map is required.

A new consortium focused on quantum information science and engineering called the Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QEDC) will be led by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). With funding from both the government and private-sectors, some of the QEDC’s preliminary goals include determining workforce and research and development requirements, as well as coordinating public and private efforts in an effort to help scale research and development in quantum information science.

As part of the announcement, NIST signed a cooperative research and development agreement with SRI International, a nonprofit research and development center in Menlo Park, California.

Nevertheless, quantum computers will not replace a classical computer anytime soon, according to Carl J. Williams, acting director of NIST's Physical Measurement Laboratory. In a NIST blog post, Williams says, “There is no such thing as doing word processing on a quantum computer; you just get gibberish. It’s not going to replace it.”

Still, Williams believes quantum information science to be “one of the most remarkable technologies, with some of the most far-reaching applications that has ever been developed.” What’s going to be the most remarkable application? It’s way too soon to tell. According to Williams, “This would be like going back to 1950 and predicting how many computers we would need in 1990. Or what we would be using computers for. It would be like predicting that we would touch the internet almost continuously every day when it didn’t exist, or back when it was only an academic toy in the mid-1980s.”

The announcement follows the recent release of the National Strategic Overview for Quantum Information Science and an announcement of $218 million in funding for 85 research awards in quantum information science from the U.S. Department of Energy. 

NIST and SRI will announce workshops addressing the consortium’s structure, governance, and major research and development areas in the coming months.

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