The Future of Warfare Is Quantum: Has China Already Won?

October 7, 2021 Updated: October 9, 2021

Commentary

In the not so distant future, quantum computing will fundamentally alter the fabric of society. Arguably, the internet is the most revolutionary creation to date. However, some experts believe the quantum revolution will make the internet revolution look insignificant. China appears to be at the forefront of the quantum leap.

The internet has revolutionized our lives. This is not a controversial statement to make. It has transformed the way we interact with each other. It’s the reason ‘google’ is now a transitive verb. However, to quote the author Kevin Coleman, “the disruptive potential of quantum technology will make the Internet era look like a small bump in the road.” The latter relies on standard electronics; the former, meanwhile, relies on quantum physics. That’s good news for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and bad news for the United States.

When it comes to competition between the two countries, the importance of quantum technology cannot be emphasized enough. As Scientific American notes, the quantum race has profound implications “for both the future of science and the two countries’ political relations.”

Quantum computing is coming, and once it arrives, it will have the power to break even the most sophisticated of cryptography. For the uninitiated, cryptography includes encryption and decryption. Without encryption, sensitive data is exposed and private conversations become public. Banks and government agencies rely on encryption. Without it, they are as vulnerable as the average citizen, as all data—from credit card details to private emails—would be exposed to the masses.

If you think hacking is bad now—and it is—wait until criminals and state actors start using quantum computers for nefarious purposes. A quantum computer is 158 million times faster than Fugaku, the world’s fastest supercomputer. The United States and its allies recently accused China of a “global hacking spree.” With quantum computing, expect the sprees to become a more regular occurrence. In the not so distant future, wars will be carried out in cyberspace; quantum computers will play a fundamental role in such attacks. The United States, woefully unprepared, must work now to protect itself and its citizens.

In truth, when it comes to China’s dominance, the writing has been on the wall for quite some time. In 2017, Chinese scientists began working on a “quantum internet.” This online world, virtually unhackable, would give the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) even more geopolitical clout. Last year, the U.S. government announced plans to build a quantum internet of its own. With a three-year head start, the Chinese are in pole position to win the quantum race.

Across the United States, as the quantum specialist Yuval Boger wrote, companies are desperately trying to form quantum computing teams. There’s just one problem and it’s a significant one: “There is an acute shortage of quantum physicists and quantum information scientists,” according to Boger. This is a major problem with no obvious solution. Fewer American students are pursuing STEM subjects. Why? Because they’re too difficult. Without adequately trained professionals, how is the United States supposed to compete with China? How is the country supposed to protect itself from bad actors?

Epoch Times Photo
A quantum computer is encased in a refrigerator that keeps the temperature close to absolute zero in the quantum computing lab at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York, on Feb. 27, 2018. (Seth Wenig/AP Photo)

Not that long ago, Google had the “quantum advantage.” Now, though, it’s China in the ascendancy.

As the journalist Jason Bloomberg has noted, quantum computing, once an Isaac Asimov-type fantasy, “is well on its way to becoming cold hard reality, sooner than you realize.” When it does arrive, “the fall of modern cryptography” will be the equivalent of the Big Bang, disrupting both the economy “as well as the balance of power across nation states.”

To give some context to the gravity of the situation facing us all, think of the 2008 financial crisis, then think of the past 18 pandemic-fueled months, then multiply the effects by a thousand. This might sound hyperbolic, but it’s not. Larry Karisny, one of the world’s leading cybersecurity experts, believes that the computational physics powering the quantum revolution “will drastically change all current AI and cyberdefense technologies.” In this particular race, the winner will very much take it all.

High-Tech Warfare

In February of this year, Prasanth Shyamsundar, a scientist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy lab specializing in high-energy particle physics, published a rather intriguing paper. Today’s military leaders rely on superior technology, but this technology is the product of classical computing methods, which rely solely on binary thinking. Although the technology is indeed impressive, it’s limited in both scope and capability. With quantum computing, however, as Shyamsundar noted, superior algorithmic calculations allow for superior technology. Although Shyamsundar’s paper doesn’t discuss warfare, it demonstrates the ways in which quantum computing will provide us with superior products. This includes weaponry: superior drones, superior submarines, superior missiles, and superior defense technologies.

In the not so distant future, a quantum system running advanced algorithmic solutions will be able to chart and predict the final outcome of a multi-step war campaign. Should the United States be concerned? Considering American educators are busy dumbing down the country’s education system, and China is fast outpacing the United States in STEM Ph.D. growth, the answer is a resounding yes.

To be prepared for the quantum future, planning must start today. Time is very much of the essence.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

John Mac Ghlionn is a researcher and essayist. His work has been published by the likes of the New York Post, Sydney Morning Herald, Newsweek, National Review, The Spectator US, and other respectable outlets. He is also a psychosocial specialist, with a keen interest in social dysfunction and media manipulation.