The Jerusalem Post
Where is Israel in the US-China quantum supremacy race?
As the US and China battle it out for quantum computing supremacy, where does Israel fit into the picture?
The theme of a zoom conference organized by the Maryland/ Israel Development Center and the University of Maryland on Wednesday was “How Quantum Computing Will Revolutionize the World: Maryland and Israeli Experts Weigh In,” but one of the speakers did discuss the ongoing race between Washington and Beijing.
Dr. Tal David, who heads the Israel National Quantum Initiative, noted that America has instituted a ban on the export of various quantum technologies to China and that the Chinese are in the process of responding in kind.
There is also a process starting within the EU to limit exports of quantum technology to non-EU members, which could impact Israel, England, Switzerland and others.
Like many other technological areas, the US and China are in a race to see who will dominate the quantum computing and other related quantum sectors.
Some analysts say that whoever wins the race will have a potential revolutionary advantage in both the economic and military sectors over competitors, without even getting into the potential for quantum computers to hack virtually the entire internet.
David said “the window of opportunity for collaboration is shrinking all the time,” but that he was hopeful Jerusalem would convince its EU partners to continue joint quantum projects.
According to David, there is still ongoing quantum research cooperation going on between Israel and China in the academic fields and there has been some cooperation in the business arena.
He explained that Israel’s general approach was to promote as much collaboration as possible in the field of quantum given the complexity of the challenge and the diversity of global efforts to meet the challenge.
Although there are technological areas like 5G where the Jewish state has committed to America that it will use American and allied technology, and not Chinese technology, there is no public indication to date of Israel having to make such a commitment in the quantum realm.
David summarized the state of quantum technologies, calling quantum sensing the most advanced and mature area which is already being used in the field.
In contrast, he said quantum communications and cryptography are not as ready, but are moving forward at high speed and could have a major impact on “markets in the next five years or so,” with quantum computing getting “the most hype and investment, but is the least mature.”
Israel is “trying to be enablers” in a range of these areas with a recent jump in investment by both the state and the private sector, said David.
Christopher Monroe, a professor at both University of Maryland and Duke University, as well as co-founder of quantum computing company IonQ, discussed how future applications in business could help multinational companies and national defense organizations optimize the shortest routes for delivering packages at a whole new level.
However, he said that “quantum will have a scientific use before a commercial use” and explained that governments need to get involved because businesses may not stay invested in quantum during the full cycle of peaks and valleys, since they worry more about profits in the short term.
In contrast, he said that quantum computers will change the face of the planet, but are a marathon.
Co-Founder and CEO of Quantum Machines, the first Israeli quantum start-up, Dr. Itamar Sivan tried to explain to those attending why quantum computing has still not been fully mastered despite nations across the world now throwing, in total, tens of billions at the issue.
He presented a picture of an entire galaxy to describe the quantum processor’s computing potential as greater than a number needed to represent the number of atoms in the universe.
Sivan’s company works on cloud infrastructure which can control any kind of potential quantum machines.