On May 19, 2020, Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA-9) introduced the Advancing Quantum Computing Act (AQCA), which would require the Secretary of Commerce to conduct a study on quantum computing. “We can’t depend on other countries . . . to guarantee American economic leadership, shield our stockpile of critical supplies, or secure the benefits of technological progress to our people,” Representative Griffith explained. “It is up to us to do that.”
Quantum computers use the science underlying quantum mechanics to store data and perform computations. The properties of quantum mechanics are expected to enable such computers to outperform traditional computers on a multitude of metrics. As such, there are many promising applications, from simulating the behavior of matter to accelerating the development of artificial intelligence. Several companies have started exploring the use of quantum computing to develop new drugs, improve the performance of batteries, and optimize transit routing to minimize congestion.
In addition to the National Quantum Initiative Act passed in 2018, the introduction of AQCA represents another important—albeit preliminary—step for Congress in helping to shape the growth and development of quantum computing in the United States. It signals Congress’s continuing interest in developing a national strategy for the technology.
Overall, the AQCA would require the Secretary of Commerce to conduct the following four categories of studies related to the impact of quantum computing:
- First, the Secretary would be required to analyze industry sectors that develop and use quantum computing, including public-private partnerships that support its adoption. This analysis would specify the advantages and disadvantages of quantum computing for U.S. businesses.
- Second, the Secretary would be required to address federal activity related to quantum computing, such as identifying “all interagency activities related to quantum computing” and establishing a list of agencies asserting jurisdiction over quantum-focused entities and sectors.
- Third, the Secretary would be required to examine “at least ten and not more than 15 countries” and their national strategies on quantum computing, with the overall goal of ranking U.S. efforts.
- Finally, the Secretary would be required to focus on “marketplace and supply chain of quantum computing,” such as assessing the risks posed by the technology and how foreign governments may exploit those risks.