Below a panel discussion held at the Hudson Institute event tiled The Coming Quantum Revolution: Security and Policy Implications. The topic of the panel was "Does the U.S. Need a National Quantum Initiative"? Participants were Dr. Warner A. Miller, Professor of Physics, Florida Atlantic University; Dr. Lily Lidong, Chen Project Leader and Mathematician, Cyptographic Technology Group, National Institute of Standards and Technology; Dr. Arthur Herman, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute; R. Paul Stimers, Partner, K&L Gates LLP; and Van Hipp, Chairman, American Defense International. The panel was followed by closing remarks by Dr. Arthur Herman.
HIPP: My name is Van Hipp and I’m the moderator of this last panel, Does the United States Need a National Quantum Initiative? The last time I wore one of these things was Saturday – my mental health break in the fall is I’m a sideline reporter for a college football team but I was speaking to a different audience, I think, than I am today.
But I want to thank the Hudson Institute again for really – there are a lot of think tanks in Washington DC and in this country but to me this is an important national security issue. And I want to thank the Hudson Institute for leading on this issue because it’s something that I think we need to have a serious national dialogue in this country about it because it is a national-security issue.
You know, there are historically four dimensions of warfare: air, land, sea and space. And now we have the fifth dimension of warfare, cyber. And I have said for some time that whoever wins the cyber war and masters the cyber war will have the upper hand in our next major military conflict. But I believe who wins the quantum race will have the upper hand in winning the cyber war.
This is – and you asked a great question, how do we educate the American people so that average citizens understand the importance of quantum computing and quantum science is a national security issue?
I loved the movie, The Imitation Game. And it educated, I think, a lot of people how the cryptologists, the cryptographers – how they came together. The Brits had a great model – they brought the best minds together gave them the resources they needed and losing was not an option -- they had to win; and they did win, and they came together.
And then before he was president, General Eisenhower said after the war that what they did to break the enigma code was of priceless value in winning World War II. Look what’s happening today in the world – we hear about China; the United States is falling behind. And it’s actually $11.47 billion that China has spent on quantum in the past two and half years.
And oh, by the way, guess who has a quantum encryption device day working at least at the working-prototype level? North Korea. North Korea has a quantum encryption device. Well, I wrote about it several months ago and that’s why I’m glad that this institute is having this symposium; because it’s the great equalizer.
You can take a country – a country with -- maybe hurting economically, maybe not having advanced technology in other areas but if they get this right they’ve got a competitive edge – and you add ballistic missile technology to it and to add a nuclear capability; I think you get the picture. So, like I said, whoever wins the quantum race I believe will have the upper hand in cyber warfare – and this call for a national quantum initiative is something that I think that this country needs to take very, very, very seriously.
So, what we’re going to do today – and the first person I want to call on has kind of done something like this before, in putting together a good framework that I think will provide the basis of the other panelists as we go forward – and it’s Paul Stimers and he’s a partner in the public policy practice of K&L Gates, which is a global law firm. He’s worked in Congress and the administration – various agencies to create policies for disruptive innovations in IT.
But what really intrigued me most though is that was closely involved with the authorization of the national nanotechnology initiative. And this is a potential model for a national quantum initiative – and he did this as the public policy counsel for the leading Nanotechnology Industry Association. So, I think his presentation could give us a good framework on what a national quantum initiative could look like for this country. Paul.
STIMERS: Thank you very much. So, if I can have the presentation – thank you.
So, first of all I’d like to again thank the Hudson Institute and Arthur and Idalia (ph) for pulling all this together – I think it’s fantastic and we really appreciate it.
So, the key questions to me are, what’s the need for such an initiative? What are the value and the risks? And what might a national initiative look like? And we’ve actually had for about six months an informal working group of some of the leading quantum computing companies.
Some smaller pure play quantum companies who were here in this room and some of the giants who are involved in this as customers and also as innovators – trying to wrestle with exactly this issue. And it’s great to see the House Science Committee’s upcoming hearing next week and some of the work that’s being done by the administration to move toward answers to some of these questions as well.
So, what’s the need? A national research and development initiative I think works best when there’s a strong federal interest; when public and private research and development are underway; when coordination is spotty and when international competitors are racing to win. I’d like to take a moment and just say it took me a lot to get that to do that. And wait, there’s more.
So, we have a strong national interest. The economic security national security interests are stark, and I think well understood that this point – very clear. There is public and private research and development. We’ve heard about what the United States government is up to. We’ve heard from a number of the companies involved so, that’s clear.
Coordination is spotty. There’s some really great efforts underway at the federal level already, as we’ve heard. But we could do a little bit more and we certainly know that international competitors are racing to win. Some of them are friendly competitors as the previous panel indicated and some of them are not friendly competitors.
So, what’s the value? First of all, it’s coordinating. We’ve set broad objectives and we’ve reduced gaps and overlaps between those objectives so that we’re moving in the same direction and we’re not stepping on each other’s toes and we’re not leaving important things undone.
We can accelerate at the same time. So, once you’re confident the money is going to be well spent and it’s not all going to be well spent but we’re going to give it our best shot as with any R&D situation – as has been noted you’re going to have misses and you’re going to have hits.
But once we’re confident that we have a plan and have thought it through and people aren’t stepping on each other, that opens up opportunities for more federal funding more private funding because there’s more confidence that the right things, broadly speaking, are being done.
It raises the profile of the field. So, it gets more people – more talent – more interest involved and then it’s a signal to competitors that if you want to compete with us you’re really going to have to step up your own efforts – and maybe you just don’t want to compete with us, which is helpful sometimes.
What are the risks? So, nothing that we do is all upside; right? As soon as you involve any federal government, any government of any kind in a research and development initiative of any kind you run some fairly serious risks. One is technology mandates. If the government pushes a certain set of technologies or a certain particular technology, you can really box yourself in.
If you’re picking winners and losers in the marketplace you cannot only foreclose a lot of opportunities, but you can create Solyndra moments, if you will – situations where everything just falls apart and taxpayers are holding the bag and politicians look bad and it’s just a mess. So, we try not to focus on interventions at that level.
There’s the risk of crowding out private investment. If the federal government wades into a field perhaps you’re forcing some of that private investment that would otherwise be available and intelligently deployed out of the picture – and we’d hate to lose the interest of, say, the Founders Fund or others.
You don’t want to raise barriers to entry. You don’t want to make it harder for people to get involved in this space and to bring innovations that nobody would’ve expected. The most disruptive innovations come from places you don’t expect. That’s why I like things like prizes where you’re paying out for successful innovation after the fact and people are welcome to try whatever crazy idea they may have, and the question is, does it work?
And then finally you don’t want to regulate prematurely. You don’t want to try and set up a regulatory structure that benefits the people that are already involved or is designed by the people that are already involved. Partly that’s a barrier to entry; partly that means that you’re codifying something that will be hard to change. And as technology moves forward faster and faster it’s harder and harder for regulation to keep up – and we have to be careful of that before we put regulatory structures in place.
So, the nanotechnology model – and whenever you say nanotechnology you have to have a carbon nanotube and a couple of buckyballs. So, sorry; that’s just how it goes.
First of all, I’d like to underscore the fact that Altaf Karim, spoke earlier has been doing all of this since the beginning of the millennium and was very, very, much involved from the White House side and the DOE side in creating the national nanotechnology initiative.
The 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act was Congress’s codification of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. So, it was created in 2000. It was enacted through the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act, in 2002.
And it coordinates the roughly 20 – it’s been as high as two dozen federal departments and agencies that do nanotechnology research in one way or another. It has a strategic plan with goals and objectives in service of a broad vision. And it coordinates as a clearinghouse for the various pots of money that are allocated toward nanotechnology research.
But all that money is decided at the agency level, running up through the OMB and back down through the process. But that works out to about $1.4 billion this year – and it’s led from the White House.
Bear with me one second – that’s what it all looks like. Enough of that. So, special considerations – so, the scope is one thing that about if we’re going to have a national quantum initiative. Do we limit it to quantum computing? Do we include quantum cryptography? Do we do one or the other or both? And that’s I think something that is going to need a fair amount of discussion.
Secondly – I can’t talk about secondly. There’s a big element of this – because quantum is such a salient national security concern there is a lot of effort that is being undertaken in ways that we just can’t talk about publicly; I hope.
Finally, there’s the issue of the adversary in certain respects only has to be right once and we have to be right in every time. When we get to the point – and this may be a decade hence, as has been mentioned – but when we get to the point when we’re dealing with quantum cryptography in particular you can point a quantum computer at any particular cryptologic problem and make it go away – or you will be able to.
But you can’t just have one quantum computer to fight that quantum computer. You have to be right everywhere that an adversary might be interested in. And that’s going to change how we handle this. It becomes a critical infrastructure protection problem as much is anything else – and I think that’s going to be an interesting angle to discuss.
So, our working group is ongoing. I welcome indications of interest and participation. There is my contact information and again, thanks for the opportunity to participate in today’s fantastic event.
HIPP: I think that really gives us a good framework – and something you said as the technologies increase and are developed faster and faster, it creates problems. It’s tougher to keep up with the regs.
And I’ve actually said that as the technologies are developed faster and faster that our government is also so stove piped – it lacks the ability to adapt and move swiftly in this environment so as the technologies increase I believe the threats are increasing exponentially because of that.
STIMERS: Absolutely. And again, that’s where the National Nanotechnology Initiative and the inset subcommittee and so forth are real models of collaboration and just interagency discussion and so forth.
And the trick is to take all of that and have that be replicated with the broader academic and think tank and corporate community so that everybody is understanding what all is going on – at least that we can talk about; and moving forward together.
HIPP: Super. And that brings us to our next speaker. You heard him earlier today – he gave us the kickoff on quantum technology 101, Dr. Warner Miller. You’ve heard his background, his bio. But also, of note, he was the director of the joint U.S. Air Force Department of Energy Quantum Physics Lab at Kirtland Air Force Base.
So, here’s a guy who could put on the PhD physicist hat and the old Air Force Colonel hat. So, a good person to talk about in the need for a quantum initiative and the national security issues at hand.
MILLER: Thank you, Van. No more equations, I promise. I – you know I had the opportunity recently just to drive things home we met with the commander of the 21st Air Force recently. And around there he’s dealing with a lot of issues.
We’re asking him – we’re taking QKD, command-and-control communication – what keeps them up and night more than anything else? And he said, well, the database that keeps the blood types – what if that were hacked? The impact that would have. It was an interesting answer. But it just shows you he probably had 50 different answers on his head.
But it just shows you that we don’t know – we’re vulnerable in so many ways – we heard this today – with so many things, the Internet of things out there that we have to pay attention. And this to me is the technology that we need to put in place one way or the other – I don’t know all the answers today – but one way or the other to address this particular interest.
And for this reason, we heard all the amazing things that you could achieve with harnessing full universal quantum computer. And it doesn’t – it’s not just quantum computing but quantum information sciences. It may lead to millimeter-type accuracy in GPS if we address clock issues.
Advances in AI surpassing all classical limits. Who knows where that’s going to lead us? But we all touched on this and the question we have is – and everyone is leery about this – is that a national initiative in quantum – are we ready to bet on technology?
Well, we heard the outline that you gave, Paul, and I think that the checkmarks would have speak for itself. And I think that what we’ve heard in the room here – the US has been a leader in the foundation of this field.
We can’t afford not to continue to be the leader and we cannot afford not to signal to the world that we are a major player in this. And I think the time is right now for a transition from where we’ve been doing things – the way we have been doing it now which has been very healthy, and I think is what’s made us where we are today to where we have to go to next.
Where are we today? If we’re going to look at where we’re going tomorrow we should look at a snapshot of where we are today. And I think that as mentioned earlier in the panels we have internationally, and nationally corporate involvement is well-established. Keeping the lines of communication open I think are important. I think that’s important for research.
We have substantial government programs around the world getting into this. I don’t have as fancy a chart as everyone had, nor as many. But we’ve already heard about the national lab and quantum information science in China and Alibaba’s input into that.
The Human Technopole in Italy – it was related and it’s on the order of $1.75 billion and that is focusing on data science, but they have a high-performance computing and they care about the quantum computing, looking at symmetries in data that you just can’t get to on the scales of data that we have other than by using quantum computing.
So, all these checkmarks that Paul had on here we have glaring at us. And we have the beginnings of a path forward on multiple fronts – and I want to thank you for having this conference here because this is focusing that path forward in many ways, by having these breakout sessions that you formulated.
But we have the OSD’s future directions in quantum information processing that we had very recently – 2016. We have the quantum testbed from NIST – I mean quantum testbed; sorry.
And then from the Office of Science – and NIST, the quantum algorithm zoo and the areas they’re working in. There’s a lot going on in the federal government that we already have in place. This is where we are now, and we have very much, in my opinion, done the right thing by working from the bottom up until this point.
And we now have a recognition that this is a serious issue. We see the writing on the wall with classical computing that we need to do something more. We see already examples of vulnerabilities that we have or may have in the near or far future.
And we have a great example of that encrypted code -- there was that it was cracked in a very short amount of time and they lost $100. So, we can’t afford to lose a war over such mistakes thinking that technology cannot move much faster than we think it can. It will move faster than we think.
We see that in every field of science today from biology to fundamental physics – this quantum area, nanoscience. Everything is melding together, and we are using Watson in cancer treatment plans and so forth.
AI is with us and it’s making an impact and it’s finding journals faster than the 20 doctors around the table and the Research Triangle in North Carolina can find – and it comes up with some good suggestions.
So, we don’t know about the speed of technology and certainly it’s going to feed on itself and I think be much faster.
So, the question I have – I think it’s important for this panel is, what does the US need to do to achieve – to advance right now in a way in this quantum initiative; and what should we do? And these are just talking points and the discussions we had today are informative – and this is before – I put this together before we had the discussions. But I do believe – I’m a proponent for a national quantum initiative. I think we need the consolidation. But the warnings that we had – the risk factors that we had that you outlined, I think, are very, very, important.
And this gives me pause to say well, how can we structure things? We can follow known models which were good. And I’ll talk just a couple more models that I think are relevant here.
If we scale up government funding substantially into a quantum initiative – while other organizations have done that and Cold War scenarios and war scenarios – and let me just speak on one that I know of; I was in the Air Force for 28 years. But the Air Force would spend – of their budget roughly a couple percent on basic research for the Air Force Systems Command which is now the Air Force Material Command.
But that 2% – so, you think about that and everyone in this room can have an opinion on that. Is that too much? Is that too little? Well, Bob Selden was the chief scientist of the Air Force and General Welch was there. Called Bob Selden up to his office and he said, Bob – he said, you know you’re chief scientist now. I want you to argue why you need a budget increase for basic research in the Air Force Systems Command.
You’re a chief scientist; brand new. You go up to -- this incredible general gives you the opportunity – you are blown away. This is your chance. You’re going to be the chief scientist that everyone loves.
So, he went away, and he documented all the breakthroughs that were happening in the Air Force and what was going on, but he could not pinpoint for the life of him what money level gave rise to those breakthroughs. They were random. They were coming in here and there. But it was 2% that was there was functioning. It was coming with the breakthroughs. The breakthroughs were fast enough to sustain that.
Well, Bob Selden came back to the general and said, General, I’m very sorry but we have breakthroughs. Look at all the great stuff we did, general. I know all those breakthroughs – and he says, but I can’t find any argument that would justify increasing our budget.
And he said well, you know, that’s a double-edged sword. He says, you have all these great breakthroughs – I can’t reduce your budget either – and it was a great lesson.
So, the question we have on this new initiative is, what would be the level that would mitigate some of these risk factors? To keep the startup companies able to start up. To keep the ground-up research and quantum computing – because we never know when we’re going to find a breakthrough here and there that are going to revolutionize what we are doing. What level do you think would be appropriate for this initiative? And you can look at other organizations.
Another one – I spent 14 years at Los Alamos National Lab and there – the decision there was to spend 6% of the money coming in the door for the LD RD program which has been incredible for your program over the years. That works. That works, and it gives rise to breakthroughs. And you look at companies – what does Apple spent? What does Google spend? I’m not going to keep ramping up but – yes, 15%, 10% level.
So, we have to ask ourselves what level, what percentage do you think would be reasonable to mitigate some of these risk factors to allow percolation to happen when it needs to happen? We don’t know about fault-tolerant computing overhead. We don’t know these answers. There’s brilliant people out there that may figure these things out.
So, I think that this is a question we have. Now whether the level of funding for a national quantum initiative – I don’t have the answer for that nor do I have the checkbook. Nor do I have the ear of the president or Congress – but I think that we see the numbers that are out there with our competitors. Some friendly, some not.
And to be a serious player in this game I think we have to invest substantially more money than we’re doing now. That substantially more money is in the order of billions. And the order of billions – if you come up with some percentage small as the Air Force, as large as Apple would be a way to make sure that we are percolating from the ground up but, yet we are coordinating in the government and giving some coordination to the overall direction.
I think the US government should focus on the area that it’s really charged to do for the American people and that is focus on areas of national security for this quantum computing. That is the mission we have.
The other things will come along – prolong our lives, find better fertilizers, feed the earth and so forth. That may be a national security issue in itself. But these things will come along with it, but I think that focusing in one area but yet allowing percolation and being very tolerant of other areas and other architectures and other algorithm designs will be important.
So, and then – I’m an academic in addition to being in the military. And at the Los Alamos National Lab – I’ve been at Florida Atlantic University and I see one other thing here that is very important – and it’s timely. We have a huge deficit of cyber security experts in this country. Now is the time we can fill those cyber security positions with trained people and have them know what quantum computing is.
So, we have a unique opportunity in the very near term to capitalize on getting our young people in this country and older people like we’ve heard from Harold Treece going to D-way (ph) for training. By the way, I know where he is when he disappears. Harold Treece is a RAAM rider. I used to cycle with him in Los Alamos – and he rides across America. So, if you want to find Harold Treece look for someone on a bike – there you go.
So, I think that – oh, Harold’s great. Anyway – but I think what we need to do is we need to focus on education and public outreach. And I agree with your comment completely – we are doing it and we have to bring it home even more. And I think – well, it’s never enough; right? Because we have to communicate to everyone.
But I think that – we also – I do appreciate the comment that you had about not overhyping things as well. But I think we have concerns and breakthroughs that are exciting that we don’t have to over hype.
I think that -- being an academic I think that we need an educational program that reaches from K to 12. Get people thinking in the right way – looking at those people. And undergraduates, certificates, degrees – especially undergraduate degrees. Because it’s something that we don’t have enough of and that’s a good place to start.
Graduate students you can put in a program and we can put them in the lab at University of Maryland and they’ll know what to take care of them with various backgrounds – and take them get into shape and so forth.
So, I think that having a strong education program – and it works. I’ll just give you one example. We have a tech runway at Florida Atlantic University where we transition into business and in that tech runway we have a robotics laboratory. One of the businesspeople built a robotics laboratory for middle-school students. They do the job of programming and build the robots and compete with them on a national scale.
And for our University of South Florida to compete and beat the University of Florida team with middle schoolers – not the college people – this is the education you need to animate the young people in this country and bring a new generation up and fill these cyber security jobs with a knowledge of quantum. And I’ll stop there.
HIPP: Thank you. That was great, and I agree with you 100%. We need an education program in this country. The last few years I’ve called for national security scholarships for our best and brightest – national security scholarships for college for our young people go into data security, computer security science and computer engineering because we need a major recruitment effort on this in this country.
I know you also were an Oppenheimer fellow at Los Alamos – I want to ask you a question. Over a week ago it was revealed that the North Koreans failed but they did attempt to hack our grid. Which brings me to point – Savannah River National Laboratory, our newest national lab, for a few years has really been in the forefront of the things we need to do to secure the grid, protect it if it goes down how do we get it up? And anyone who doubts what happens – just look at Puerto Rico what happens when your grid goes down.
But one of the things that they said a year or two ago was to look at the possibility of taking a QRNG chip and using that to secure the grid. What are your thoughts on that?
MILLER: Well, there’s many facets to secure the grid. One thing I do like is that we heard the talk today with Strongpoint (ph). You may think these quantum random-number generators – there’s many of them. I was in the Air Force research lab this summer and they opened up the cabinet and I was talking about SKT’s random number generator and they said, ‘here’s our random number generators here;’ right?
But what we have here which is unique is that it’s driven out to the market. It’s driven so that it can be in your keys, eventually. It can be in every facet of the Internet of things. And it’s a true – it’s a quantum-based random-number generator. So, this is a quintessential cornerstone for security, Van; I think that you’re right with that.
But the market model and the driving it – the way the companies can do this and get it into the hands and the devices – automobile industries – you don’t want to drive your car 20 years from now and have someone take over the car and cause a catastrophe on the roads. So, I think that this all helps – it’s an important element in this and I think this kind of thing needs to be pursued.
HIPP: Well, we’ve got a real treat. Our next speaker is someone I have admired. When you look at the federal government there’s one outfit, one agency that has historically been in the forefront and that’s NIST and in looking at quantum science and the quantum revolution. And if you look at the presidential executive order that came out in May it tells all agencies, you get your cyber plans to NIST. And oh, by the way NIST, you come up with the cyber framework that we need for this country.
And when you look at that and when you’ve looked at NIST over the years to study it there’s one name that always comes up and that’s Dr. Lily Chen. And she’s a mathematician and leader of NIST’s Cryptographic Technology Group and her research includes cryptography protocols, zero-knowledge proofs, special feature digital signatures – I can go on and on. But she is the lady who gets things done and really been in the forefront – and Dr. Chen, we’re glad to have you.
CHEN: Thank you. So, good afternoon everyone. So, today we talk a lot about quantum. So, I’m going to talk about the classical – so, the classical is post-quantum cryptography.
So, first this morning and this afternoon NIST has been referred [to] many times and in many different aspects of our work. So, we are under the Information Technology Lab and we are computer security division. So, the cyber security framework was developed in our division and I lead the Crypto Technology Group.
So, first I will show you our chart about the current NIST crypto standards. This classical cryptography standards we basically we have several different kinds of branch. One of them is public-key basic cryptography and another one is symmetrical-key cryptography.
About our group, we have a very long history and heritage. And in the 1990s this is the group that evolved the first data encryption standard, called DS in 1977. So, then during the past 30 years we have developed some other crypto standards including AES, the advanced encryption standards and the hash functions – SHA-1, SHA-2, and SHA-3.
And also especially today – everything related to this quantum is about the public-key cryptography. So, in this corner – so, this morning we told something about the RSA. We talked about RSA signatures, RSA encryption, Diffie-Hellman key agreement – and so on and so forth. This public-key faces the critical systems based on some hard problems – that’s currently one term, called the magic. Well, the factorization is one of the hard problems and that these crit-log problem is another hard problem.
However, because of the algorithm – the quantum algorithm this part becomes not as secure anymore; right? So, it’s now quantum algorithm – we can crack the factorization and we can crack this crit-log.
That means what? That means NIST will play a very, very, special role and that we have a very, very special opportunity to develop the post-quantum cryptography system to replace this public-key-based crypto standards.
So, that said then that you will ask that question, do you have some other magic to replace this block? So, the answer is yes and no. So, let me tell why the answer is yes and no.
So, first this is because we are talking about the classical computer – classical cryptography; right? So, the people will ask – you haven’t had at a large scale of the quantum computers to crack RSA. So, why do you start to develop this post-quantum cryptography – we have had in the past seven to 10 years on this? Because usually people don’t like to fix something if that is not broken yet; right? So, that’s generally what they are debating about.
So, I have three kinds of variables here: X, Y and Z. So, Z basically is how long it will take to get to the larger scale of the quantum computers – which can crack the current classical public-key cryptography system; so, that’s one number. That number we don’t know – we refer to the X part about how long that will be. However, we have another two characters. One is Y. Y is how long it will take to develop crypto standards and to deploy those crypto algorithms to the current theater.
Every day you reboot your phone, you reboot your computer. That means that you use public-key cryptography to verify every piece of the software from wrong code to the operating system to all the applications. No matter you know it or not you are using public-key cryptography, are using digital signature every day to do all your things about your digital. Unless you said I don’t use a cell phone, I don’t use computers; right?
So, that is the Y. So, the Y number they know very well because there’s a certain kind of magic inside – you have to make sure that everything has to be perfectly right otherwise someone can attack it, like the RSA encryption padding and the famous PKCS1. That has been fixed many times because it’s so difficult to make the padding right.
So, these are only very small things. So, there’s no easy task to develop crypto standard to be installed in the hardware, software and to use for all kind of applications. So, we know how long that Y will take. Especially we also have another variable that is X. That is backward privacy. That means today we encrypt something we hope we can maintain secret for the next five (ph) years.
So, if this Y plus X is larger than Z we will get some trouble. So, that’s why we need to start now. That is the urgency – we need to start now.
So, what we – NIST has been doing – we started this project in 2012 -- at the very beginning which is to grow NIST cryptographers’ team and that we have people with research in many different aspects. We have the critical-analysis experts, we have hash-function experts and we also have some public-key based numbers-theory experts. However, we do need some people to understand the quantum computing, to understand the quantum pack to this kind of factorization and to the discrete lock.
So, we have kind of started to build this team and in the past seven years we have some workshops which involve the industry – academic and the government. We also published some NIST IR as our post-quantum cryptography. So, the answer about whether we have some other magic to replace that block – yes, we have many candidates.
Like this morning the keynote speaker talked about like lattice-based Shortest Vector Problem: still hard. And the (inaudible) and the hash-based signatures and the coding-based encryption and also some other – like the elliptic curve isogeny group of the cryptosystem; yes, we do have. And then – so, very important milestone is that we announced a call for submissions last year before Christmas.
So, a lot of teams in this world are preparing the submissions. So, we have a preliminary deadline that was September 30 – the people who submitted to NIST the team to check the completeness, because we require not only algorithm description, we also require reference implementation, optimized implementation, IP statement and the full package.
So, after September 30 we already received more than 30 submissions. So, the final deadline will be November 30 and then after that we have another five-year project. So, after we look at the other package we will post all the submissions at the NIST website, call for analysis.
And then we will have -- next April where we will have the first conference about NIST post-quantum cryptography standards. Then of that we will have about 12 to 18 months for the analysis and then about in August of 2019 we plan to have the second workshop. Then we will narrow down the pool, we will further do the crypto analysis and we expect in five-to-seven years from now on we will have NIST crypto standards; that’s the plan.
So, that said, I said that the yes part – yes, we do have some magic to replace that block but I will say no because there’s no easy magic or real magic. And then so we need the crypto analysis; right? The cryptography even in the quantum time – I mean, the classical cryptography even in the quantum time is still the cornerstone of the cyber security. We still need the classical cryptography to do all kinds of things.
Today translations challenge and I was involved in developing the first-generation of the public-key cryptography standards but there’s various times the situation is so different because the public-key cryptography in the beginning of the 1990s – middle of the 1990s were not implemented in so many different devices; right?
Now today we use public-key cryptography. So, today is not an easy task. We need to replace – we need to have a smooth migration. We need to have smooth transition so, that’s why it’s challenging. The crypto analysis and the performance evaluation is very, very, important.
So, for the national initiative we need to have the strong support to our researchers to do the analysis. So, if we – NIST receives the submission from 30 crypto teams then we need to do 10 times that kind of team to do the crypto analysis. The national initiative has to sponsor this strong crypto analysis – that’s all I want to say. Thank you for your attention.
HIPP: Thank you Dr. Chen. I thank you for what you have been doing and continue to do at NIST. I think I feel good, though. I mean, I think we’re behind, but I’ll tell you one thing – I think this symposium has brought out – we’ve got the brainpower right here in this country. We’ve got the right people in this government – people like Dr. Chen. And we’ve got the right people in industry and it’s time to bring them together to have a national quantum initiative in this country.
Which brings me to the right person to be the cleanup hitter and to close, Dr. Herman. This was his brainchild. He’s a senior fellow as you know here at the Hudson Institute. He got his PhD from Johns Hopkins but he’s also quite a writer; and I knew about the book he had written on Douglas MacArthur that came out last year: Douglas MacArthur, American Warrior – it got a lot of play.
But also, I noticed he also had a New York Times bestseller, How the Scots Invented the Modern World – and I have a good bit of Scotch in me – I want to definitely read that one. But the one I think is very relevant for today – his book that received a lot of acclaim, Freedoms Forged: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II. I think that’s relevant because we are going to need American business, American entrepreneurship and innovation working with our government to win the cyber war, to when the quantum race and to win the cyber war.
So, Dr. Herman.
HERMAN: Well, thank you, Van. And thank all of you to – both our audience and all of our participants in what has been a really eye-opening I think and informative even for me on the issues that we’re all going to be confronting as the quantum revolution comes. Not if it comes but when it comes and what we need to be able to do to prepare for it.
The topic for our last panel is, “Do We Need a National Quantum Initiative?” And I’m going to start my remarks that are going to complete our work today and finish of the conference with some remarks about what we don’t need.
I think one of the things that we can say pretty clearly is that we don’t need – the United States doesn’t need a new research base in which to investigate and to develop work on research and development for quantum computing. We’ve got that. The Quantum Valley that Martin (ph) was talking about that the Canadians are building and constructing – we already have that; that already exists. Private industry as well as government labs. And a national quantum initiative that’s focused purely in that kind of an area I think will be not where we need to go.
We also don’t need another interagency working group. You’ve got that already. Dr. Karim (ph) talked about that. And I think the idea that this is something which will be coordinated just within government agencies to keep focus on what they’re all doing I think it’s also something that would be redundant at this point.
And I think we also don’t need a national quantum initiative to get DOD and the intelligence community interested and active in what’s going on. They’re already are. They’re already realizing the degree to which not just in terms of what the challenge that the quantum revolution poses to the ways in which we encrypt data within the government and within our most sensitive government agencies and the ways in which quantum can become a powerful weapon in intelligence and counterintelligence operations – both for this country and against this country.
But they also realize at DOD that they are a networked service. This is what they are. That in a world in which you are networked, the possibilities for attack even from classical cryptography and decryption systems is appalling. And it gets even worse when you integrate it into the quantum universe.
It’s important to realize that what we see when we look at a nuclear submarine or an F-35, a joint-strike fighter or a Ford-class aircraft carrier isn’t a submarine or an airplane or an aircraft carrier: they’re basically just big tubes for holding algorithms.
This is what those systems now represent today and the way in which they operate is on the basis of algorithms. And the way in which you can render our armed services useless in the event of a conflict is by scrambling those algorithms – by being able to interfere and to break down those systems that keep that data safe and secure.
And so, they’re very well aware of what’s going on. They’re engaged in the research in it. And a national quantum initiative which is directed solely at the national security level or at the military and DOD level even intelligence community level I think won’t be able to get the best results that we want from such a national effort.
So, what do we need? Well, I’ve got a checklist. And it’s a checklist which I think you’ll see is not by any means comprehensive. It’s by no means exclusionary – there aren’t other things that can be added to the list. But these are the ones that I think – if we’re going to do a national quantum initiative that are going to have to be included.
First of all, we need to have a platform for sharing private and public information from both the computing – the quantum-computing domain and the quantum-cryptography domain. In an area in which it becomes able to share information to understand where breakthroughs are coming, where breakthroughs are imminent and where more needs to be done and that they work in other scenarios in other areas – whether it’s in government labs or a private company a startup or a Google or a Microsoft, that may be helpful to achieve those goals in the directions that we want to be headed in.
And this is where I think something that Paul Stimers has talked about with the National Nanotechnology Initiative – I think can provide a good model for that. A way in which the sharing of information, the pooling of information and data resources can be made possible and can work.
Second, we need a plan for what Scott has called the great migration, which is the move from a classical cryptography to post-quantum cryptography and then finally to quantum-based cryptography. That this is going to be a massive effort over time. It can’t be done all at once. It can’t be done in one sphere – the public sphere or the private sphere apart: it has to be done in both and a plan for implementing that is required.
And that plan for the great migration includes standards. Standards for example that the National Institute for Science and Technology are working on and hammering out even as we speak. But standards are only one part of this process.
The other part of it too has to be building the network of trust that the new systems that replace the old are going to work. This is the whole point of our keynote speaker’s address, I think, and one of the most important parts. Is that the systems rest upon a set of beliefs and trust that the systems that are installed now will work and are resistant to attack and are resistant to collapse.
And what we’ve seen is that the classical cryptography systems – the ones based upon public-key cryptography are doomed. That that process then is what comes next – what comes next both to shore up the existing systems, the post-quantum cryptography component, but then also prepare for the future. This is going to require a whole reeducation of both people within the industry and also outside the industry as to why this migration must take place and why this change in direction is going to be necessary and inevitable.
Now the great migration is as I think we’ve also made clear – as also we’ve learned from this conference is that the that great migration is not something that you going to see happening in the realm of quantum computing. Classical computers going to be around for a long time. They’re going to be here – quantum computing will add new facets, it will add new capabilities to the realm of information technology, but the classical computers are going to be around for a while.
But classical cryptography based upon public-key cryptography ain’t going to be around – it can’t. It can’t survive. It can’t survive the revolution that’s coming. And a plan for making that chance addition possible has to start now in order to be prepared in a decade’s time or even less.
Third; we need a plan for a transition in the workplace and in the marketplace to the new quantum technologies. This gets to a point that Chris Munro raised and that is in a very basic lesson that the transition from vacuum tubes to transistors wasn’t organized by vacuum-tube engineers.
It required a new way of thinking, a new approach to the whole – this whole arena in which that transition was made possible – and we’re going to need a transition like this also both in the private sphere but also in the public sphere – of ways in which we can get a generation of engineers who are comfortable with and are adept at thinking quantum and are going to be able to think in quantum terms in confronting all these range of problems and issues.
Now some of this may be a bottoms-up initiative. You go back to the question of STEM and of training the next generation in the skills that they’ll need including perhaps national security scholarships to be distributed to help encourage this kind of growth and direction as we go forward here.
It will include standards for what it is that are going to be required for our engineers to be able to understand what it is to think quantum when addressing key problems in information technology – going forward from here, what takes place. But a plan needs to be implemented.
There has to be a way in which this becomes a movement that takes place, not just in certain discrete areas that are going to be affected by quantum technology but that really becomes – that really sort of shape a generation who are prepared to take quantum technologies to the next level and to push it forward to where it needs to be.
Fourth idea – fourth plan for a national quantum initiative – and that is a national quantum initiative has to expand the information sharing on quantum information technology to within the Five Eyes.
The Five Eyes, just for those who don’t know, are the five countries that are signatories to the intelligence sharing agreement that was struck between the US and Great Britain after World War II. The Five Eyes being the United States, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
Now notice those five. Three of them are already key leaders in quantum technology and investment in quantum technology. And that includes Great Britain as well. We didn’t talk very much about the effort that takes place there, but they’ve invested a great deal in quantum labs.
They’re very much involved in this process as well and the possibility of being able to share information with allies with whom we already have trusted our key classified secrets for more than 70 years -- makes a lot of sense especially if we’re thinking about this from a national security perspective and thinking about what takes place beyond that.
And beyond the Five Eyes we can see other countries, other allies who are also now part of the quantum effort that are going to be involved with us. I include Japan. Now I’m biased with this because I worked on Japan – US-Japan strategic and defense cooperation issues. But Japan’s entry into the quantum race I saw as a very welcome step. Next week in fact I’m going to be in Tokyo speaking at the Mount Fuji dialogue which is sort of a meeting of Japanese and US officials and legislators to talk about science and technology issues.
And one of the topics that I’m going to be raising there while I’m there next week – Prime Minister Abe is going to be present. Defense Minister Onodera (ph) will be present. One of the issues I’m going to raise is to talk about what we’ve done in this conference about where the path forward I believe lies in terms of developing a national quantum initiative and in terms of information sharing with allies – trusted allies – like Japan as well as the Five Eyes.
And then down the road we can see this happening as well. South Korea being added to the list. India being added to the list – the possibilities for the growing and sharing of information on these key areas – even in the most sensitive areas I think is something that looms inevitably on the horizon for us.
Then my last point – my last point. And that is that we need a Manhattan Project-style funding focus in order for a national quantum initiative to succeed. Now that doesn’t mean the amounts of money that was invested, which in today’s dollars would be about $30 billion.
It doesn’t mean having the amount but as we’ve seen from all of our panelists and discussion, the key here is not the amount, it’s the consistency of knowing that that money is going to be there. Whether it’s at 2% or 6% or whatever. As long as you know that money is there you can plan and organize your research efforts and your development efforts based upon that kind of an idea – that kind of a direction.
But the Manhattan Project also had another dimension to this – which I think is two other dimensions, I should say, which are also important for this. And I’ve got a piece that should be coming out in the Wall Street Journal on this calling for the next Manhattan Project should be a national quantum initiative.
But the thing I want to stress about this is that I think there may be some misunderstanding about what the Manhattan Project was really all about. That in the course of it – I worked on this, researched this very much – extensively when I was working on my book that Van Hipp mentioned, Freedom’s Forge and the effort to arm the United States and mobilize for war during World War II.
The Manhattan Project – the government really didn’t do anything. For one thing, they couldn’t. No one had built an atomic bomb before. It had never been approached. It all was still in the area of laboratory experiments and drawings on blackboards; not much more than that.
But what they could do is that they could provide a focus for where the money was going to go and what was expected – and that was we need to build an atomic bomb before our opponents do. And they knew that there were two paths to that. It became very clear that there was going to have to be two kinds of bombs: one built on a uranium basis and one built on a plutonium basis – and that’s all the government did. It just provided a set of goals.
This is what we need, and we’re going to need it fast, under the pressure of war and the threat that the Germans might be able to make the breakthrough first.
And so, they turned to private industry in order to do it, and the bomb – the atomic bomb was all built through the effort of private industry: companies like DuPont and Monsanto and, what’s the company that later goes on to build nuclear reactors? Westinghouse of course – but I think – Stone and Webster. These are the companies – and the government sort of said, you figure out how to do it; we just want the end result – and we’ll pay for what it is in order to get that. To build for example a plutonium processing plant which DuPont did up in Washington State.
So, the question of funding of course can be very important particularly if you need funding in an emergency in a directed way. But there’s also another key reason that I’ll mention that made the government – federal government’s involvement through the Manhattan project and its effort absolutely essential.
And that was that the federal government with the Manhattan Project understood that – understood that they needed to give permission to fail. I’ll come back to that phrase again. That there are going to be times when the breakthrough wasn’t going to happen. When mistakes might be made. They might find themselves going totally down the wrong road about the work that was being done. That money would be thrown away on a project or something – you throw a switch and it doesn’t come on; right?
Now for a private company facing return on investment kinds of questions at some point they have to sort of say, you know what? I don’t think – I think we’ve spent enough; we’re done. We’ve got to move on to something else if it’s more profitable.
But the federal government was able to stay focused and sort of say, no, your job is to build the bomb. We don’t care about the failure here or the breakdown there – keep going, try again. Keep it going. There was a tolerance for failure that was built into the system because they couldn’t afford not to succeed.
They couldn’t afford not to succeed and that gave permission to fail and it gave the possibilities and then of opening up and keeping the focus – and that’s what a federal effort can do in a way in which the private sector – no matter how incentivized, no matter how capitalized, no matter how many experts it brings to bear and involves – can’t provide. And that’s where a national quantum initiative can be crucial for the breakthroughs that we want, and that we need from all of this. Thank you very much.
HIPP: All right. I think we’ve got a reception afterwards –
HERMAN: We have a reception afterwards. There is – have some fruit. We have some light refreshments. Please feel free to stay and mingle. Feel free to ask panelists the questions that you were too afraid or too embarrassed to ask but which may actually turn out to be one of the most important questions that was asked at the conference. And I will look forward to seeing you there.
Again, thank you very much. Let’s thank all of our participants for an amazing conference.