Yes, President Trump indeed did it again. In an 82 minute-long State of the Union speech last night, science and technology were completely ignored. There was nothing other than a reference to the two American companies supposed to fly crewed missions with American astronauts to the International Space Station this year. Currently American astronauts travel to the station aboard Russian rockets.
For instance, what do names such as Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, startups such as D-Wave Systems and Rigetti Computing, and some of the Chinese Internet giants like Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent have in common? They are all building and testing quantum computing hardware and software. They’re betting that these machines will lead to breakthroughs in areas such as chemistry, materials science, logistics, finance, and also artificial intelligence.
Prototype quantum computing hardware is still embryonic. But powerful computers powered by quantum physics have recently started to feel less hypothetical. Many of the names I mentioned have decided it’s time to invest heavily in the technology. No wonder venture investors are plowing hundreds of millions of dollars into startups working on quantum computing hardware or software worldwide. The enormous potential of quantum computing is undeniable.
Yet, rather than building on the momentum of the recently signed National Quantum Initiative Act by immediately directing the acceleration and coordination of federal quantum research and development, President Trump ignored the tremendous progress countries like China are exhibiting in the space race of our time. Their $10B National Laboratory for Quantum Information Sciences, set to open in 2020, is aiming to accelerate quantum R&D and applications with the help of University of Science and Technology. The American people certainly deserve better.