Biden eyes new quantum computing export controls

Hello and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: why the United States wants to impose new export controls on quantum computing despite the fact that no one knows how quantum is too quantum, Microsoft’s decades-long relationship with researchers in China may be no more never be the same and Google’s attempt to speak 1,000 languages.

Knock ’em in the qubits

The Commerce Department is working on a new set of trade restrictions that aim to impede China’s progress in quantum computing, Protocol has learned.

It’s unclear when Commerce will implement a new set of export controls. around quantum, but staff members are in talks with big and small tech companies involved in the industry. The department is under pressure to act more quickly from intelligence agencies, including the National Security Agency, who see China’s quantum capabilities as a potential threat, industry sources said.

  • Commerce employees are in talks with big tech companies involved in quantum computing, including IBM and Google, and smaller companies such as IonQ and Quantinnum, according to industry sources.
  • The United States aims to reach an agreement with other countries around quantum computing, but wants to go further than what is currently under discussion.
  • Commerce referred the protocol to remarks Undersecretary of Industry and Security Alan Estevez made last week, and the NSA did not respond to a request for comment.

Despite some progress in quantum computing technology, it remains an emerging technology, making it more difficult to identify ways to restrict access.

  • Export controls risk undermining or even derailing progress in the vast field of quantum computing.
  • Stifling U.S. progress could allow other countries to take leadership positions, which would run counter to the administration’s foreign policy goals.
  • Partly because there are no standard tools or methods for building quantum computers, there are also no obvious bottlenecks for officials to identify – unlike the computer industry. relatively mature chips.
  • Although much of the quantum industry frames performance around measuring the basic unit a machine can process, qubits, Commerce workers have recognized the importance of other thresholds, such as error correction software.
  • Talks have been going on for years, including under the Trump administration, and a draft pre-proposal has drawn opposition from industry.

The stakes around quantum computing could be high, if quantum computing companies ever delivered what they promised.

  • If the promise of quantum computing materializes, it could significantly disrupt fields such as cryptography or chemistry, as well as potentially classical computing in general.
  • There is worldwide recognition that this is the case, and discussions between the Wassenaar Nations have been ongoing for some time.

Movements around quantum computing are part of a broad administration look in technologies that underpin the national security and economy of the United States, and identify other technologies that may be critical in the future.

  • Senior officials identified chips as one of the main sets of technologies and issued sweeping restrictions on chip exports on Oct. 7.
  • Beyond chips, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan identified general computing (including quantum), biotechnology and clean energy as key areas the administration would focus on.
  • Additional controls in these areas and activities around the US government exploring how to achieve these goals will continue in the coming months.

Read the full story here.

— Max A. Cherney (E-mail | Twitter)

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The future of Microsoft’s AI in China

Microsoft has been instrumental in helping China become the AI ​​powerhouse it is today. Now, with the very idea of ​​an American company partnering on tech projects in China attracting the attention of lawmakers, national security hawks and human rights advocates, the company could be forced to take tough decisions about the thriving AI ecosystem she fostered there.

“Basically, you can argue that Microsoft Research Asia was the kind of seed capital from which many Chinese companies and researchers in AI and the industry really grew,” said Paul Triolo, senior vice president of AI and AI research. China within the global strategic consulting firm Albright Stonebridge Group.

Microsoft established the Beijing Research Lab, also known as MSRA, in 1998. Since then, the research elements conducted there have been used to create all kinds of Microsoft products. And research emerging from the MSRA has helped advance speech recognition, natural language and image processing, and other deep learning research, influencing work at Apple, DeepMind, and Facebook and in the whole world.

The contributions of Microsoft researchers in China “have and continue to benefit the international academic research community, which is why I think it’s important to invest in AI research in China,” I said. said Peter Lee, vice president of research and incubations at Microsoft. in an email.

But as the United States has widened its sanctions net to include more Chinese tech companies, it remains to be seen what the future holds for Microsoft’s well-established AI partnerships in China. “There may be pressure from the US government on Microsoft not to pursue certain types of AI research at MSRA, but that would be a major problem for Microsoft in the area of ​​AI,” said Triolo.

There’s so much more to my whole story, including memorabilia from MSRA’s co-founders. Read it – and the rest of The Protocol series evaluating the so-called AI race between the United States and China – here.

-Kate Kaye (E-mail | Twitter)

AI and chips: what the future holds for the United States and China

Join Protocol Enterprise’s Kate Kaye for a virtual event on Thursday, November 3 at 10:30 a.m. PDT that will feature two separate discussions between technology and policy experts on the future of AI-related partnerships between tech companies, developers and AI researchers in the United States and China, as part of Protocol Enterprise’s special report on the future of global AI development amid rising nationalism.

In the first chat, Kate and a panel of experts – Davis Sawyer, co-founder and chief product officer of Deeplite; Xiaomeng Lu, director of geotechnology at Eurasia Group; and Abigail Coplin, assistant professor of sociology and science, technology, and society at Vassar College — will discuss U.S.-China AI technology collaboration, the possibility of new U.S.-China secondments that could affect the industries of AI and semiconductors, how the AI ​​technology collaboration between the United States and China will be difficult to unravel, and more.

In the second discussion, Kate will be joined by Matt Sheehan, Asia Program fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Rebecca Arcesati, analyst at the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS); and Renard Bridgewater, member of the Eye on Surveillance Coalition, to examine the realities and misconceptions about China’s AI ethics, the country’s AI and data privacy regulations, and the risks of a conversation about AI in the United States led by national security forces.

RSVP here.

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Thanks for reading – see you tomorrow!

Sherry J. Basler