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Quantum Computing and Geopolitics
Quantum Computing and Geopolitics
Tawhidur Rahman

Quantum computing is one of those topics that people
fi nd very interesting yet quite intimidating at the
same time. When people hear — or read — that the core
of quantum computing is quantum physics and quantum
mechanics, they often get intimidated by the topic and steer
away from it. I will not deny that some aspects of quantum
computing are incredibly puzzling and hard to wrap your
mind around.

The challenges of quantum m echanics

The fundamental properties of quantum mechanics have
opened new opportunities for technology, but they can also
pose some fundamental
challenges. Elsa Kania, adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New
American Security, argues that a sober view of these challenges can
help temper some of the hype around quantum information technologies: “While references to ‘the race for quantum computing’ do abound, it is important to recognize that this is not just a race, but rather more of a marathon.”

Operational challenges

To begin with, there are some scientifi c challenges that
are unique to quantum technology. For example, the very
nature of quantum mechanics makes it impossible to “clone”
or duplicate qubits, which are the quantum equivalent
of a classical computer bit. This makes many common
programming techniques that rely on copying the value
of a variable impossible to use with quantum technology.
For similar reasons, it’s impossible to read the same qubit
twice. While this can be a great advantage for secure
communications where you want to generate unforgeable
cryptographic keys, it can create tremendous diffi culties in
computing as it complicates the techniques necessary to test
or “debug” a program before running it.
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