Quantum information & politics

In response to the US National Science and Technology Council’s report calling for a national initiative on quantum information, a hastily organized workshop has been planned for the end of this month in Virginia.  The Pontiff has already blogged briefly about it.  But a few things about this workshop struck me as odd.

First, while it would seem as if a very broad representation of quantum information researchers would be the best way to fill an invited speakers list, the list is conspicuously weighted toward a handful of institutions.  For instance, there are five speakers from IQC/Waterloo and none from either UNM or LANL.

Second, in theory it would seem as if this workshop should be dedicated to addressing the issue it was ostensibly organized to address: a national QI initiative.  Thus, one would think you’d want representatives from LANL (a major QI research location) among other institutions and yet the largest representation is from a Canadian organization.  Granted, it may well be one of the top two or three QI organizations in the world and should certainly be represented, but it’s Canadian.  Are we trying to emulate the NHL and NBA by applying “national” to mean “north of Mexico” and, in the process, surreptitiously annex Canada?

Seriously, the invited speakers list hardly does justice to the broad nature of the QI community and seems to ignore the fact that this initiative was intended, for better or for worse, to be national in scope.

Finally, the organizers did not notify the APS’ Topical Group on Quantum Information (GQI) until today (hotel deadline is Wednesday).  Yet the APS is the primary lobbying organization for physicists in the US and, by extension, GQI ought to be at the forefront of any political strategy sessions related to quantum information.

In any case, I hope any participants from the government are smart enough to realize any “roadmap” for QI that this workshop comes up with, regardless of its merit, does not necessarily represent a consensus opinion within the QI community.


3 Responses to “Quantum information & politics”

  1. rrtucci Says:

    Amen. I would also add that industry/entrepeneurs/investors (for example D-wave) and software developers (both closed and open source) are not represented either. Another instance of the greedy Wall-Street bankers trying to control future economic policy?

  2. quantummoxie Says:

    Excellent point. The only industry representation is from IBM and Microsoft, but I would argue Booz-Allen and SAIC do more quantum computing these days than Microsoft. In addition there isn’t a single quantum cryptography group or company represented as far as I can tell.

    I don’t know if it is Wall Street that is behind this. I simply suspect it was someone who didn’t put a lot of thought into the selection process.

  3. Amen again. To my mind, the IBM and Microsoft people are not really representatives of business interests, they are quasi-academics. They are not trying to build/sell a product. Even though D-wave is a Canadian company, some of its investors are American.
    The Wall-street bankers comment was meant as a metaphor.

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