The 20th century gave birth to the Nuclear Age as the power of the atom was harnessed and unleashed. Today, we are on the cusp of an equally momentous and irrevocable breakthrough: the advent of computers that draw their computational capability from quantum mechanics.
US representative Will Hurd (R-Texas) (@HurdOnTheHill) chairs the Information Technology Subcommittee of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and serves on the Committee on Homeland Security and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
But that same computing power can be used to unlock different kinds of secrets—from your personal financial or health records, to corporate research projects and classified government intelligence.
It's more than just theoretical: An algorithm formulated by mathematician Peter Shor demonstrates that quantum computers are able to factor large numbers more efficiently than classical computers. Large-number factoring is the foundation of today's encryption standards.
The impact of quantum on our national defense will be tremendous. The question is whether the United States and its allies will be ready.
The consequences of mastering quantum computing, while not as visual or visceral as a mushroom cloud, are no less significant than those faced by the scientists who lit up the New Mexico sky with the detonation at the Trinity test site 72 years ago. In the same way that atomic weaponry symbolized power throughout the Cold War, quantum capability is likely to define hegemony in today's increasingly digital, interconnected global economy.