John Marburger John Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, has called for a “workshop” that may well determine the direction of quantum computing R&D in the US for the next decade. His agency has published a very slick sales brochure, signed by Holdren’s predecessor, John Marburger, that describes various unanswered issues in Quantum Information Science, and promises a bold new American initiative to answer them.
At first glance, this might seem like promising news. However, there are some disheartening red flags. The buck must stop at Holdren, since his agency is financing this workshop.
(1) LATE ANNOUNCEMENT DESIGNED TO KEEP PUBLIC PARTICIPATION TO A MINIMUM
The general public has been notified about the conference on April 7, only 16 days before the April 23-25 event. With so many confirmed speakers (about 2 dozen), it’s clear that the planners of this conference have known about it long before April 7. It appears that Holdren is no great believer in the democratic process, and that he is using this technique of late announcement to dissuade the general public from attending, except for a token few of the great unwashed.
(2) CONTRADICTORY GOALS
From (1), it appears that the workshop is mainly for insiders, for the old boys network of tenured “experts”, to advise on government policy. If so, then why so many technical talks? Are experts coming together in this workshop to advise on government policy, or to learn additional esoteric details about quantum information theory? I mean, should the experts in this workshop be focusing on the microscopic details of the trees, when their main goal is to see through the forest? Personally, I think the only expert that should be speaking at this workshop is Mr. Open Discussion. An adjunct, secondary poster session would have been okay too, but why the hilariously long, dog and pony show?
(3) INDUSTRY EXCLUDED
The list of speakers includes no business interests. No entrepreneurs, no investors, no CEOs , no real business people, no software developers (of either closed or open software). How does Holdren expect to foster a new industry if he excludes business interests from day one? Is he planning to invent a new kind of computer that doesn’t use software? Sure, there are a few invited speakers from IBM and Microsoft, but they are all quasi-academics, many are partially funded by the government, none is trying to sell a product or court investment. One or two of the speakers have even written a small amount of quantum computer software, but none of their software is public that I know of.
The outcome of Holdren’s workshop appears to be a foregone conclusion, so why have a workshop at all? Holdren will continue to fund the same old tenured academics and their silly institutes. These old fashioned institutes will continue to produce an endless stream of post-docs. Most of these post-docs will have to leave the field because Holdren’s “initiative” has failed to foster the industry that could employ them.
To learn more about how to build a computer that uses no software, see this.
This workshop has been announced also at