In case you missed it, the U.S National Quantum Initiative Act was signed into law by President Donald Trump on December 21 just before end-of-year holidays. Broadly, the NQIA sailed smoothly through congress driven in part by worry over losing ground in a global race to achieve practical computing and other quantum information-based applications.
Is it possible to direct scientific research? Scientists working in the private sector are directed by their corporate funders. For scientists in the public arena, academia or non-profits, their choice of research is less controlled; where their expert knowledge of the field is assumed to make them better able to choose appropriate research paths, but not what always appears to us as “socially optimal.”
President Donald Trump on Friday signed legislation ramping up quantum computing research and development. The National Quantum Initiative Act (H.R. 6227) authorizes $1.2 billion over five years for federal activities aimed at boosting investment in quantum information science, or QIS, and supporting a quantum-smart workforce.
For years, quantum computing, which leverages the difficult, and, to many, spooky science of quantum mechanics, has been a subject mostly of interest to the technical elite. Yet as scientists and now policymakers point to the rapid progress that China is making in the field, it’s the intelligence community that appears to be the most alarmed.
The Senate cleared the way for the president to approve implementation of a 10-year plan to accelerate quantum computing research and development. The National Quantum Initiative Act, introduced by Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, passed the Senate Dec. 14 by unanimous consent.
In the past decade or so, China has been expanding its commitment to scientific research, and it shows. Chinese researchers now produce more scientific publications than U.S.
Scientists working on the frontiers of medicine fear the uproar over the reported births of gene-edited babies in China could jeopardize promising research into how to alter heredity to fend off a variety of disorders. Researchers are rapidly learning how to edit DNA to fight such conditions as Huntington's, Tay-Sachs and hereditary heart disease, conducting legally permissible experiments in lab animals and petri dishes without taking the ultimate step of actually creating babies. Now they worry about a backlash against their work, too.
Higher education R&D expenditures (HERD) grew by 38.9 percent from 2008 to 2017, an increase of more than $21 billion, according to an SSTI analysis of recently released data from the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. From 2016 to 2017, HERD grew by $3.8 billion, the largest year-over-year increase since 2010-2011.
A recent report by Ernst & Young documents continued efforts by countries to enact additional tax incentives to reward companies for research and development. The purpose of these incentives is two-fold. Of course, these countries would like to attract more research activity from overseas. But maybe even more important, they want to increase domestic investment from within their own borders.
Since 2011, more than half of the nation's new investment in business research and development has come from California companies, and more than three-quarters has come from the top five states, according to an SSTI analysis of recently released NSF data.