A quantum Christmas tree

America’s quantum policy has moved forward this morning when the House Committee on Space, Science and Technology approved a series of amendments to the National Quantum Initiative Act reauthorization, which will set national scientific, economic and security priorities for quantum technology over the next five years.

The original 2018 NKIA, which authorized $1.2 billion in quantitative spending and launched new federal offices to oversee the government’s approach, expired at the end of September. The new version is a chance to keep pace with its own quantum efforts from global allies and adversaries, while continuing to fuel a field of research that is big breakthroughs In the meantime.

It wasn’t a particularly grumpy or tense moment in Washington, as the bill and each of today’s amendments enjoyed unanimous bipartisan support in committee.

He still faces a full committee vote after Thanksgiving, and then a meeting with the presumed Republican leadership before taking the floor. For now, however, the amendment process offers some insight into how quantum is shaping up as a policy issue in Washington.

If passed, the bill would add a number of additional provisions to the original, including a new quantum institute at NASA, support for quantum foundries within the Department of Energy and new research centers within the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

It also transforms into a classic Washington Christmas tree, $3.6 billion top line with a bunch of pet projects. Tail. Jamaal Bowman (DN.I.), a former teacher, added language to ensure Department of Education involvement in quantum issues; former businessman rep. Mike Collins (R-Ga.) has mandated the inclusion of small businesses in strategic conversations.

But broadly speaking, most of the amendments offered today fall into one of three main groups of policies, each of which provides a revealing look at how US lawmakers are beginning to view technology:

China, security and global competitiveness: The easiest element of quantum politics to recognize immediately is the cybersecurity threat posed by quantum computers, a topic that has been around for years competition organized by NIST to develop quantum-resistant cryptography. To this end, numerous MPs today emphasized the need to stay ahead of China in quantum and strengthening cyber security, as well as in one amendment from Reps. Jeff Jackson (DN.C.) and Claudia Tenney (DN.I.) directing NIST to develop a strategy for standardizing post-quantum cryptography across government.

One of the main concerns with quantum technology is that once we achieve it, all of our passwords become obsolete, Jackson said. There are a number of organizations that need to start adopting these standards and have not yet done so.

Representative Mike Garcia (R-Calif.) also introduced amendment which directs the National Quantum Coordination Office to monitor the quantum progress of other countries, saying they are currently in an arms race with China when it comes to quantum capabilities. Tail. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) introduced language which mandates research activities authorized by law are subject to the same geopolitical security measures as those in CHIPS and the Science Act.

Commercial development and economic impact: Federal dollars create local spending opportunities, and quantum meruit is no exception. Lawmakers have introduced a number of amendments to the bill to encourage quantum development and manufacturing in the US, including one from Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Ohio) that encourages public-private partnerships to strengthen the quantum supply chain.

Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Mich.), speaking in support of her Midwestern colleague, said the amendment would help small businesses, new innovators, entrepreneurs and, of course, help make the Midwest shine.

Other amendments sought to encourage commercial quantum development and applications, a dear cause for the emerging quantum industry. Collins the aforementioned amendment mandates the inclusion of small and medium-sized businesses and startups in federal quantum financing discussions.

Research funding: And of course, with any technology that is still largely theoretical like quantum computing, politicians have Enough an idea of ​​how and where research funding should be directed. Sykes offered amendment prioritizing quantum research in health care; there was a Bowmans who would include the Department of Education in discussions of quantum strategy; Reps. Andrea Salinas (D-Ore.) and Jim Baird (R-Ind.) directed the National Science Foundation to award grants to advance quantum research and tools at universities and non-profit organizations.

Salinas referred to the quantum research network in her home state of Oregon and invoked the now-familiar litany of transformative use cases to which quantum can be applied: faster drug development, better clean energy technologies and improved climate modeling, helping us to cope with some of the biggest in society. challenges.

As we’ve already covered here at DFD, it could be far from, if quantum computers even first achieve their goal of consistently outperforming their classical counterparts. But as the rapid, unusually unanimous bipartisan support for more spending shows, at least in committees, the prospects are already tantalizing enough to make it a very live political issue and a target for lawmakers.

From the first file in Europe: Germany’s antitrust chief said today that state regulators will not review Microsoft’s investment in ChatGPT.

POLITICS Edith Hancock logged in for Pro subscribers that Andreas Mund, head of Germany’s federal cartel office, said his team had concluded that the two companies’ previous investments and cooperation were not subject to merger control, which much stronger there rather than in the United States, which sees the decision as a potentially bad sign for similar enforcement on this side of the pond.

That doesn’t mean, however, that big American tech firms will completely slide by European Union regulators in the era of artificial intelligence. A senior European Commission antitrust official said last week that careful monitoring of monopoly problemsand another official in September said the block considers Microsoft’s chatbot integration into Bing.

A class action lawsuit submitted the allegations yesterday United Healthcare used an artificial intelligence system to wrongfully deny insurance claims for seniors, the latest in a series of similar lawsuits against health insurance companies including Cigna.

The lawsuit, filed by law firm Clarkson, says that after buying a third-party company that uses artificial intelligence to evaluate insurance claims, the insurer denied coverage for extended care recommended by doctors, causing seniors to rack up huge health bills. debts. The lawsuit alleges that 90 percent of those who appealed their denials were successful, although only 0.2 percent of those who were denied did so.

The behavior alleged in the lawsuit is almost a textbook example of fears voiced by critics of artificial intelligence who say a lack of transparency around the use of such systems will inevitably lead to discrimination and other harms. In the most egregious example of such a mistake to date, the European Union’s privacy regulator fined the Dutch tax authorities 3.7 million after an artificial intelligence system wrongly accused tens of thousands of families of welfare fraud.