National Security Will Change Thanks to Quantum Technology. U.S. alliances are now being tested. - Liberty

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

National Security Will Change Thanks to Quantum Technology. U.S. alliances are now being tested.

 Protectionist fears are competing with the spirit of collaboration in a race across the world to harness the power of atoms for computers, encryption, and navigation.


National Security Will Change Thanks to Quantum Technology. U.S. alliances are now being tested.
A researcher working with a prototype quantum gravimeter at the Q-CTRL lab in Sydney, Australia. The current version is 40 times smaller. Isabella Moore

Liberty CNN, The hefty metal container that looked like a beer cooler and contained a quantum sensor was shaken by the Australian researcher. The cutting-edge apparatus, which uses lasers to manipulate atoms in a sensitive condition, was still operating despite the shaking, according to a computer screen.

He and his team have developed a resilient, portable, and very difficult-to-detect navigation device for usage when satellite GPS networks are blocked or malfunctioning. It would be a tremendous advancement over current technology and could steer military equipment for months with negligible danger of directional mistakes, including submarines and spaceships.

Russell Anderson, the head of quantum sensing at Q-CTRL, a start-up that just inked a contract with Australia's Department of Defense to develop and field-test its quantum sensor technology.

Government funding in the sector and quick technological advancements by scientists have increased the race to build quantum technologies of all types. But the United States is thinking about tighter export regulations for quantum to keep a lead over China, which has a centralized approach to tech development. More restrictions, on top of those currently in place, according to supporters, might hinder momentum since the American model of technology creation is open, combining public research funding with private investment to encourage experts from many nations.


National Security Will Change Thanks to Quantum Technology. U.S. alliances are now being tested.
An infrared image of an atom cloud makes the center of a quantum gravimeter seem like a white dot. Isabella Moore

The dilemma facing the United States and its allies is clear: how to strike a balance between protectionism and collaboration in a sector undergoing a transformation where talent is in short supply and less concentrated in the United States, making dependency unavoidable and becoming more and more essential.

"The world has changed, and the pace of technology is much faster than it used to be," remarked John Christianson, a military fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington and co-author of a recent study on AUKUS, the trilateral security agreement between the US, UK, and Australia for 2021. We can't only depend on Americans to have the greatest products all the time.

This week, annual bilateral consultations between Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III are taking place in Australia. According to Australian authorities, they will probably be encouraged to expedite and clarify the guidelines for sharing technology in industries that are undergoing fast change.

In just a few short years, scientists have been able to harness the extreme sensitivity of atoms to create powerful sensors, more secure communication systems, and extremely fast quantum computers that have the potential to propel exponential advancement in a variety of industries, including artificial intelligence, drug discovery, mining, and finance.


National Security Will Change Thanks to Quantum Technology. U.S. alliances are now being tested.
At the Q-CTRL lab, a scientist is examining the signal on an oscilloscope. Isabella Moore

China has achieved achievements that have come close to matching or even surpassing those of the American strategy thanks to its coordinated manner of directing billions of dollars to institutions with military affiliations. Some of its claims regarding quantum developments and funding commitments have been contested, but an observable rise in Chinese expertise started a decade ago with booming government investment. British intelligence agencies had discovered ways to decrypt and spy on encrypted internet traffic. China constructed a 91-acre complex with the biggest national laboratory for quantum research in the world in Hefei, west of Shanghai, in 2017. Since then, Chinese scientists have produced tens of thousands of articles showcasing important developments, including the usage of a "space-to-ground quantum communication network" in 2021 that connected satellites to a fiber-optic cable that connected Shanghai and Beijing. According to Edward Parker, a physicist at the RAND Corporation who specializes in emerging technologies, "The Snowden thing had a psychological impact on China." They saw this as a highly tangible quantum technology where they could surpass everyone else. This is another example of national pride. The man referred to be China's "father of quantum," Jian-Wei Pan, has played a significant role. His doctoral work in quantum information science was conducted at the University of Vienna under the direction of Anton Zeilinger, one of the physics Nobel laureates from the previous year. China has made significant strides in the area of communication that uses the principles of quantum physics to safeguard data.


National Security Will Change Thanks to Quantum Technology. U.S. alliances are now being tested.
A high bandwidth magnetometer used in the development of quantum technologies at the Q-CTRL lab. Isabella Moore

The critical technology tracker of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute shows that China is closing the gap in quantum sensing for navigation, and mapping. Even though quantum experts outside of China have disputed their claims, Chinese scientists have said that they are developing a quantum-based radar to detect stealth aircraft with a modest electromagnetic storm.

Michael Biercuk, creator of Q-CTRL and a 43-year-old American physicist with a military bearing and a Harvard Ph.D., is one of the skeptics. He relocated to Australia in 2010 to teach at the University of Sydney. They aim to profit from the opportunities that technology-sharing alliances like the AUKUS security agreement present.

Since Q-CTRL focuses on sensors and quantum computing, Professor Biercuk said that "AUKUS is exceptionally important to us." "It's a real chance for the Australian homegrown capability we're developing to be used in an international framework."

About half of the 100 staff at Q-CTRL are Australian and half are from other nations. Many of them, including Professor Biercuk, have previous experience working for prestigious military and civilian labs in the United States. The major software product of the business, which, according to Professor Biercuk, "stabilizes the hardware against everything that goes wrong in the field," is already in use by quantum developers in the US, Canada, and Europe, where the development of accurate sensor technology is also progressing.


National Security Will Change Thanks to Quantum Technology. U.S. alliances are now being tested.
Q-CTRL's creator Michael Biercuk is one of a cutting-edge group of world experts in quantum technology who is looking to profit from alliances like the AUKUS security accord. Isabella Moore

However, transferring sensitive technology across borders or creating new technologies with international teams has become more risky.

Australia has been looking at ways to keep its technological developments a secret out of concern that they may be utilized to bolster the economy of other nations. To avoid being subject to the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), a set of strict safeguards for military technology is widely regarded as a major barrier to modernizing America's alliances in the region.

Information itself may be seen as an export if American authorities follow through on their intention to enlarge export restrictions for quantum computing, continuing a trend that started with cutting-edge microchips, meaning specifics couldn't be shared with anyone born outside of the United States.

The RAND physicist Dr. Parker remarked, "It's simply really complex if you have to have different lab facilities with more sensitive items.

Many quantum businesses, like Q-CTRL, in the US and overseas, are asking for logical, unambiguous rules. To prevent Australian businesses from being classified as foreign organizations, Australian authorities, and some American politicians are also arguing for an exemption from U.S. weapons restrictions.


National Security Will Change Thanks to Quantum Technology. U.S. alliances are now being tested.
The twin gravimeter prototype is being scaled down for use in the lab. Isabella Moore

There is a nagging concern among those who deal closely with sophisticated technology, where progress necessitates information sharing, that the United States and its closest allies run the danger of losing recent accomplishments by delaying the clarification of the legal framework for collaboration.

Professor Biercuk said that the next few years would be essential on a recent day at the old locomotive plant where Q-CTRL maintains its headquarters. If cooperative democracies don't strengthen quantum collectively, other nations will overtake us with stronger armies and more attractive prospects.

You best know that China and any of its allies won't impose limitations on either themselves or their allies, he said. We run the danger of merely halting growth locally and handing our opponents a technical edge if we overregulate developing scientific fields.

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