The Future of Quantum Technologies: Opportunities and Challenges

Public Sector
April 13, 2023
The Future of Quantum Technologies: Opportunities and ChallengesThe Future of Quantum Technologies: Opportunities and Challenges

By Kristin Q. Cody, Senior Manager, Federal Marketing & Communications, SandboxAQ

The virtual 2023 Quantum Technologies Forum on April 5 hosted by Executive Mosaic offered a platform for experts and leaders to discuss the current and future state of quantum technologies.

Keynote speaker Sha-Chelle Manning, Chief of Commercial Strategy at the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), discussed the meaning of quantum as well as the opportunities and threats quantum technologies present in different areas.

Manning highlighted various areas where quantum technologies have potential for significant impact, including:

  • Battery catalysis
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Encryption
  • Materials discovery
  • Genomics
  • Nitrogen fixation
  • Machine learning
  • Finance
  • Image recognition
  • Supply chains

Manning emphasized that commercialization is crucial for transitioning these technologies into practical applications.

“It is all about transition,” Manning said. “We want to make sure people come to DARPA to solve problems and make things happen.”

She pointed to DARPA’s Embedded Entrepreneurship Initiative (EEI) as a way to ensure a good product-to-market fit and identify groups in the Department of Defense (DoD) that can be the first adopters of these technologies. Through the initiative, DARPA hires entrepreneurs and business executives for one to two years with the goal of developing a robust go-to-market strategy for both defense and commercial markets.

Maintaining Strategic Advantage

During the panel discussion, "The Quantum Scale-Up Challenge," Lloyd Dabbs, Director of Public Sector Business Development at SandboxAQ, emphasized the importance of distinguishing between quantum computing and quantum sensing or information science.

“There are near-term quantum technology applications that you can deliver at scale sooner rather than later, like in the next two to five years rather than 10 to 20,” Dabbs said.

LLoyd Dabbs, Director of Public Sector Business Development, SandboxAQ
LLoyd Dabbs, Director of Public Sector Business Development, SandboxAQ

The panelists discussed the strategic advantage of being the first to deliver quantum technologies, as China is currently investing heavily in this area to gain a technological advantage over the U.S.

“One of the most important things we will doing our lifetime is to maintain strategic dominance,” Dabbs concluded.

Dawn Meyerriecks, Former Deputy Director for Science & Technology at the CIA, agreed.

“The work [the U.S. is] doing across the board in quantum science is really important to get us to quantum computing, ”Meyerriecks said, adding that collaboration among “other democracies is a really important step.”

The discussion also touched on the need for policymakers to recognize the cybersecurity threat of quantum computing and invest resources to push quantum computing forward.

Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Cameron Holt, President & Founder of Holt Consulting Group LLC and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, emphasized the importance of deterrence to convince adversaries of U.S. capabilities in this area. He also discussed the need for next-generation cryptography for offensive and defensive purposes.

“China has been soaking up and storing info that is encrypted and that they can’t break [yet],” Holt said, referencing what is becoming known as “Store Now, Decrypt Later” attacks.

Overall, the 2023 Quantum Technologies Forum highlighted the potential of quantum technologies in various fields and the challenges of transitioning these technologies into practical applications. Collaboration among different disciplines, investment in research and development, and strategic planning are crucial for the U.S. to maintain its technological advantage and prepare for the future.

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