March 01, 2018

Is China seeking “quantum surprise?”

By Elsa B. Kania

Hype about artificial intelligence (AI) seems at or near a peak. A wave of hype is also emerging around quantum technologies, particularly quantum computing. When these two waves of hype collide, do they simply produce more hype—or could real risks, and a potential military “revolution,” arise at the convergence of AI and quantum computing?

Certainly, when the perils and potential of these technologies are discussed, some exuberance is warranted. Each has beencharacterized as the “new electricity”—and these are indeed technologies that could transform all sectors and create new industrial revolutions. But for the time being, both AI and quantum technologies remain fairly nascent fields, with limitations that will prevent the rapid realization of their full potential. And as with any technological transformation, anticipating the future impact of AI and quantum technologies in the commercial and defense realms is difficult, if not nearly impossible.

That said, AI is starting to be widely recognized as a potential catalyst for a new military revolution that could transform current paradigms of military power. Unsurprisingly, major powers including the United States and China are actively advancing military applications of AI, competing to innovate in this domain.

Read the full article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

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