WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Quantum technologies will transform the world by creating ultra-fast computing platforms, ultra-secure networks, and new forms of radar that will render stealth obsolete, and China wants to dominate the space.
This week the Chinese government announced they would be spending upwards of $10 Billion to build a new state of the art quantum technologies research center that will span over forty hectares, or over 4 million square feet, near Hefei, and the news comes hot on the heels of china’s latest announcement, a world first, that it managed to conduct the first inter-continental video call made via a quantum communications network.
The National Laboratory for Quantum Information Sciences (NLQIS), as it will be known, will open in 2020 and has at least three major research goals.
The first research goal will be to develop new Quantum Metrology platforms that can measure minute changes in gravity and other physical effects that one day could be used to build the next generation of highly accurate, self-contained navigation systems that could replace GPS, which is now prone to spoofing, in everything from self-driving cars to submarines.
Secondly, the center will be responsible for developing China’s new generation of Quantum Computers, and then thirdly they’ll be diving head long into developing a whole raft of other quantum technologies such as quantum communications and networks, quantum radar, that will render US stealth obsolete, and a weird, ultra-secure phenomenon called “Nil Communication” that “sends data without sending data,” that was first demonstrated a few years ago.
On the quantum computing front Pan Jianwei, a leading Chinese quantum scientist, says that the first general purpose Chinese quantum computer could have a million times the computing power of all other computers presently in the world. In the computers we use today, information is encoded in a series of bits set as either 1 or 0. In a quantum computer, bits would theoretically be able to hold one, both, or some combination of these states, and they could be used to speedily crack encrypted messages or solve complicated research problems involving anything from weather modelling and fusion research to biomedicine, because quantum bits allow certain calculations that happen one by one on a standard computer to occur simultaneously.
The new centers work aligns squarely with China’s broader national push to develop these technologies which have been highlighted by the recent successes of the the Micius quantum satellite that’s now helping China build the world’s first ultra-secure, “unhackable” nationwide quantum network that one day will carry military communication traffic as well as civilian financial traffic.
The future of information technology and security increasingly looks like it will be a quantum one, and China wants to make sure it’s a leader, not a follower. Everyone else take note.