There are opportunities and threats in quantum simulation

A technology that has so far received little attention
ACM: quantum simulation has opportunities and risks



Author: Richard Oed

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ACM: Quantum Simulation Hides Opportunities and Threats In its new publication, “Computing and Quantum Simulation”, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) shows the opportunities and threats of quantum simulation for society and technology.

For example, quantum simulation computers could help to make significant medical advances in the near future. But technology also brings with it dangers, such as the possibility of mass surveillance, which is already the order of the day in China, for example.

Quantum simulation is a little-noticed variety of quantum computing. This technology offers great opportunities, but also carries technical, social and technical risks. According to the lead authors of the study, Simson L. Garfinkel, chairman of the Digital Governance Subcommittee of the ACM American Technology Policy Committee (TPC), and Chris J. Hoofnagle, a law professor at UC Berkeley School of Law in California, mainly focuses on the ability of upcoming quantum computers to break encryption. . The potential consequences of quantum simulation, which uses special quantum computers adapted to simulate real-world phenomena, have been relegated to the background.

Quantum simulation can have a fundamental impact on science, industry and defense technology. According to the authors, accelerated technological development may affect privacy and other civil liberties. As quantum simulation technology, unlike ‘general purpose quantum computers’, which will only be available in 10 or 40 years, could be widely used in two to five years, according to the results of a workshop organized by the US National Science Foundation in 2019, it would have to be be carefully planned to maximize their possibilities. This planning should start as soon as possible.

Because: “Despite the enormous potential of quantum simulation, both its positive and negative effects have not been adequately addressed by the computer industry and policymakers around the world,” said James Hendler, chairman of ACM TPC at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

Quantum simulators come with risks

The authors see opportunities and threats in four areas in particular. For example, quantum simulation could lead to a deeper understanding of nitrogen fixation in food and drug production or photosynthesis. On the other hand, there is a risk that due to the high cost of quantum computers, one player will dominate the technology, which will then dominate the entire market. In addition, quantum simulators could revolutionize defense technology by developing new systems that would require government intervention with export control rules. Finally, there is also a threat to civil rights as quantum technology could enable surveillance techniques to advance through revolutionary new antenna systems and sensor technologies.

The complete study can be downloaded from the ACM website. Provides further information on quantum computers and quantum simulators.

* Richard Oed is a specialist freelance journalist

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