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The United States and China both see quantum technologies as key to national security and economic progress

美国和中国都将量子技术视为国家安全和经济进步的关键。



By Jeremy Hsu

作者Jeremy Hsu

A few days before Christmas, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a bill into law that devotes more than US $1.2 billion to a national effort dedicated to quantum information science over the next 10 years. The National Quantum Initiative Act represents a bipartisan U.S. government push to keep up with China and other countries in developing technologies such as quantum computing, quantum cryptography, and quantum communication—all of which have some potential to upset the balance of economic and military power in the world.

圣诞节前几天,美国总统唐纳德·特朗普签署了一项法案成为法律,将花费12亿美元用于未来10年致力于量子信息科学的国家努力。“国家量子倡议法案”代表了两党政府在技术开发方面与中国以及其他国家并驾齐驱的努力,这些技术包括量子计算,量子密码学和量子通信等,所有这些都有可能打破世界经济和军事力量的平衡。

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But it’s more of a marathon than a sprint, Kania explained. The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine acknowledged as much in a recent report that suggests a general-purpose quantum computer is still more than a decade away. Engineers must still figure out how to build much larger arrays of fragile qubits that remain stable long enough to perform useful computations.

但这更像是一场马拉松,而不是短跑,卡尼娅解释道。美国国家科学、工程和医学研究院在最近的一份报告中承认,通用量子计算机还需要十多年的时间才可能实现。工程师们还必须弄清楚如何构建更大阵列的脆弱量子位,使它们保持稳定以至于有足够长的时间来执行有用的计算。

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China’s national ambitions take a quantum leap

中国国家抱负的巨大飞跃

China’s interest in quantum technologies goes hand-in-hand with China’s anxiety over U.S. intelligence capabilities and surveillance activities within its borders, said Kania. Chinese leader Xi Jinping has emphasized the strategic importance of quantum technologies and even singled out Chinese success in quantum computing during his January 2018 New Year’s address.

卡尼娅说,中国对量子技术的兴趣与中国对美国在其境内的情报能力和监视活动的担忧密切相关。中国强调了量子技术的战略重要性,甚至在2018年1月的新年讲话中特别提到了中国在量子计算方面的成功。

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Chinese researchers went on to demonstrate several notable early steps in using their satellite to test quantum encryption and setting a distance record for entanglement between qubits involved in communication in 2017.

中国研究人员继续演示了几个值得注意的早期步骤,即在2017年利用卫星测试量子加密,并为参与通信的量子比特之间的纠缠创造了一个距离上的记录。

Another glimpse into China’s national strategy comes from the realm of quantum radar. In September 2016, Chinese researchers reported a new record in developing quantum radar with improved accuracy in detecting targets up to 100 kilometers away—a range that is reportedly five times that of a lab prototype developed by an international team in 2015. Chinese researchers have said their next version of quantum radar would be able to detect stealth bombers and potentially track ballistic missiles.

从量子雷达领域可以又一次窥见中国的国家战略。2016年9月,中国研究人员报告了一项发展量子雷达方面的新记录,即提高了对100公里以外目标的探测精度,这个范围是一个国际团队在2015年开发的实验室原型的五倍。中国研究人员表示他们下一个版本的量子雷达将能够探测隐形轰炸机,并可能跟踪弹道导弹。

“China has launched an extremely ambitious program, and so has Europe, the UK, Australia, and Canada,” says David Awschalom, a professor in spintronics and quantum information at the University of Chicago. “All of these have national programs, so it’s a good time for the United States to do it, too.”

“中国发起了一项雄心勃勃的计划,欧洲、英国、澳大利亚和加拿大也是如此,”芝加哥大学的自旋电子学和量子信息教授David Awschalom说,“所有这些国家都有全国性的项目,所以现在也是美国进行这项工作的好时机。

U.S. assembles quantum building blocks

美国组装量子积木

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The U.S. National Quantum Initiative charges various government bodies—including NASA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology—with creating a road map for quantum science and technology. But it’s far from just a government-directed effort. Awschalom described the program as having been carefully crafted with input from U.S. industry and academia.

美国国家量子倡议要求各种政府机构-包括美国宇航局和国家标准与技术研究所-创建量子科学和技术的路线图。但这绝不仅仅是政府主导的努力。Awschalom称该项目是在美国工业界和学术界的投入下精心制作的。

The national program also gives the U.S. National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy the task of each establishing between two and five centers dedicated to basic research and education in quantum information science.

该国家计划还赋予美国国家科学基金会和美国能源部两项任务,即分别设立两至五个专门从事量子信息科学基础研究和教育的中心。

Breaking out of the lab

冲出实验室

It’s especially important to get company researchers involved, Awschalom says, to help translate lab discoveries and prototypes into commercial products and services. Having worked at IBM, he observed that Silicon Valley’s recent interest in quantum computing and related technologies has provided a healthy resurgence in company-backed basic research jobs.

Awschalom说,特别重要的是让公司的研究人员参与进来,以帮助将实验室的发现和原型转化为商业产品和服务。在IBM工作过之后,他观察到硅谷最近对量子计算和相关技术的兴趣已经为公司支持的基础研究工作带来了健康的复苏。

“IBM, Intel, Google, and Microsoft—all four of these major tech companies are actively engaged in quantum information science in deep and meaningful ways,” Awschalom says.

Awschalom说:“IBM、Intel、Google和微软-这四家主要的科技公司都在以深入和有意义的方式积极从事量子信息科学。”

Developing talent is crucial for any country involved in quantum research. A U.S. national program for quantum science and technology may help ensure the “consistent and basic levels of funding” to attract and retain leading researchers, according to the CNAS report.

培养人才对于任何参与量子研究的国家都是至关重要的。根据CNAS的报告,美国国家量子科学和技术项目可能有助于确保“一致和基本的基金水准”来吸引和留住领先的研究人员。

The report also recommends that the U.S. National Science Foundation establish a scholarship program with a service commitment that encourages students to pursue careers in quantum science. Similarly, it suggests creating a U.S. national laboratory for quantum science and technology that could promote private-public collaborations with funding for long-term research projects.

报告还建议美国国家科学基金会设立一个奖学金项目,并承诺提供服务,鼓励学生从事量子科学的职业。同样,它建议建立一个美国量子科学和技术国家实验室,以促进私人和公共资本的合作来为长期研究项目提供资金。

“Our students and graduate students shouldn’t all expect to be in academia—they should be spread throughout national laboratories and companies,” Awschalom says. “Many of my own students are working at IBM and Google, and they’re loving it.”

“我们的学生和研究生不应该都期望进入学术界-他们应该分布在这些国家实验室和公司,”Awschalom说,“我自己的许多学生都在IBM和谷歌工作,他们很喜欢。”