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Trade and technology

Quantum computing: A new frontier in techno-nationalism

Published 17 August 2021

Quantum technology could change the future of geopolitics and global trade. State and non-state actors must begin to understand and successfully harness the power of the “qubit” – or risk being dominated by those who do.

The age of modern computing has produced remarkable innovations across entire industries, a phenomenon that has been driven largely by semiconductors. As microchips can no longer accommodate increased numbers of transistors (known as “bits”) on surface areas that have shrunk to the size of an atom, quantum computing promises to provide the answer.

Although it will not replace contemporary digital computers for everyday usage, quantum computing is solving highly complex computations that the world’s most powerful supercomputers cannot solve. Consequently, quantum computing could reshape innovation and competition in virtually every field, from manufacturing to finance and logistics. Its impact on the global economy will be transformational.

This paper by Hinrich Foundation Research Fellow Alex Capri studies the latest general developments of quantum computing, viewed through the lens of geopolitics and techno-nationalism. New quantum-driven applications could produce decisive advantages in a state's technological prowess, deciding winners and losers across a wide range of strategic industries. This report is divided into three sections:

  1. What is quantum computing and why does it matter?
  2. The US-China innovation race and the quantum computing landscape
  3. Techno-nationalism and the future of quantum computing

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Alex Capri

Alex Capri is a research fellow at the Hinrich Foundation and a lecturer in the Business School at the National University of Singapore. He also teaches at the NUS Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

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