China will open a $10 billion quantum computer center and others also investing in quantum computing

On 37 hectares (nearly 4 million square feet) in Hefei, Anhui Province, China is building a $10 billion research center for quantum applications. This news comes on the heels of the world’s first video call made via quantum-encrypted communications and the completion of a quantum-encrypted fiber optic trunk cable.

The National Laboratory for Quantum Information Sciences, slated to open in 2020, has two major research goals: quantum metrology and building a quantum computer. Both efforts would support military and national defense efforts, as well civilian innovators.

Pan Jianwei, a leading Chinese quantum scientist, says that the first general-purpose Chinese quantum computer could have a million times the computing power of all other computers presently in the world. In the computers we use today, information is encoded in a series of bits set as either 1 or 0. In a quantum computer, bits would theoretically be able to hold one, both, or some combination of these states. They could be used to speedily crack encrypted messages or solve complicated research problems involving anything from weather modeling to fusion research and biomedicine, because quantum bits allow certain calculations that happen one by one on a standard computer to occur simultaneously.

China QUESS quantum satellite is projected to have only a two-year lifespan transmitting quantum keys between China and Europe, it’ll be succeeded in 2030 by a constellation of quantum satellites.

Three weeks ago Facebook announced it was tapping into Canada’s impressive supply of artificial-intelligence talent and expertise by creating a major AI research center in Montreal. Several big recent advances in AI can be traced back to Canadian research labs, and Facebook is hoping that the new lab may help it take advantage of whatever comes next.

The Canadian government is investing millions in an effort to hold onto AI talent and foster new AI companies. A couple of months ago, DeepMind founded a lab at the University of Alberta, another center of excellence in reinforcement learning. Another AI-focused center was established at the University of Toronto with funding from the Canadian and Ontario governments, as well as a group of companies including Google. In contrast, the U.S. government has slashed funding for scientific research, including AI and machine learning.

Facebook has a lab in Paris in addition to those in New York and Menlo Park, California. Several large Chinese companies, including Baidu and Tencent, now have U.S. AI labs, located in Silicon Valley and Seattle, respectively. And Google recently said it plans to open an AI research lab in China.

The $100 billion Softbank Vision fund is scouting for possible investments in quantum computing, an experimental science being researched by companies such as Google and IBM to succeed current computer processor technology.