US mulling expanding Chinese tech ban to quantum computing


New export controls being mulled by US President Joe Biden’s administration will limit China’s access to emerging powerful computing technologies, Bloomberg reported. The plans are yet to materialise though and focus on the still-experimental field of quantum computing, as well as artificial intelligence (AI) software. 

Once implemented, the controls will follow separate restrictions regarding Beijing’s ability to deploy cutting-edge semiconductors in weapons and surveillance systems. The earlier announced restrictions also regulate the way US citizens and residents participate in Chinese tech firms.

Also Read | China: US should create conducive conditions for dialogue with North Korea

The US is trying to to curb China’s ability to develop certain technologies which might see them stand head-to-head. There has been no official statement from the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security that is responsible for designing and enforcing export controls.  The White House National Security Council is reportedly unaware of the development.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, had last month acknowledged that “computing-related technologies, including microelectronics, quantum information systems and AI” will gain prominence in the coming decade. He also noted that export controls are important to “maintain as large of a lead as possible” over adversaries.

What is Quantum computing?

An experimental field, quantum computing has the potential to increase the power and speed of computing, enabling machines to solve problems beyond the capacity of the current generation of computers. Quantum machines can even decode passwords and circumvent encryption security features.

Top companies like Microsoft and Alphabet Inc’s Google, Intel and International Business Machines Corp (IBM) are spending millions of dollars on quantum research projects.

While conventional computers interpret data in “ones” and “zeros”, a quantum machine can store information in multiple states. This means information can be stored as one, zero, both or something in between. This principle is known as “superposition”. That allows a quantum system to multitask in ways today’s binary equipment can’t.

(With inputs from agencies)


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