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Key companies to attend White House quantum computing meeting

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By Reuters
Key companies to attend White House quantum computing meeting
The White House is seen as the sun sets in the third week of the new Trump administration in Washington, U.S., February 7, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg   -   Copyright  Jim Bourg(Reuters)

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House will hold a meeting on Monday on U.S. government efforts to boost quantum information science, with administration officials, leading companies including Alphabet Inc, IBM Corp, JPMorgan Chase & Co and academic experts taking part.

Quantum computers could operate millions of times faster than today’s advanced supercomputers. Experts have said the promising technology, still in its infancy, could have a major impact on healthcare, communications, financial services, transportation, artificial intelligence, weather forecasting and other areas.

The technology carries major national security implications because quantum computers potentially could break traditional internet security programs or other codes.

The meeting was organised by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Jake Taylor, the office’s assistant director for quantum information science, said the administration plans to publish a strategy on Monday on how to advance the next-generation technology. The meeting is aimed at bringing key stakeholders together and “really develop a plan” to help make quantum computing a reality and look for input on what additional steps the government can take, Taylor said.

The meeting will include officials from the Pentagon, National Security Agency, White House National Security Council, NASA and the federal departments of energy, agriculture, homeland security, state and interior, among others.

Tim Sheehy, IBM’s vice president of technology policy, said in an interview the meeting “gets academia, government, industry together and says how can we make our individual efforts into a greater collective whole.”

Representatives from Honeywell International Inc, Lockheed Martin Corp, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, AT&T Inc Intel Corp, Northop Grumman Corp and other companies also will attend.

Quantum computing “will enable us to predict and improve chemical reactions, new materials and their properties, as well as provide new understandings of spacetime and the emergence of our universe,” and could be realized within a decade, according to a White House memo.

On Sept. 13, the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation on quantum information science to “create a unified national quantum strategy” that would authorize $1.3 billion in funding through 2023. The bill’s co-author, Representative Lamar Smith, who chairs the House Science Committee, will speak at Monday’s meeting.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Will Dunham)