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Public Policy News from the Fourth Quarter 2018

Policy News from Q4 2018

National Quantum Initiative Signed into Law
28 December 2018

The enactment of the National Quantum Initiative Act on 21 December creates a comprehensive national policy to encourage quantum research and technology, and helps build a workforce capable of creating practical applications. The bipartisan legislation establishes a multi-agency program that spans the National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Science Foundation, and Department of Energy, and will include the formation of between four and ten competitively awarded research centers.

"The passage of this landmark bill delivers the exciting promise of a future-focused, technology-smart world," said SPIE CEO Kent Rochford. "It's very welcome news, not just for the organizations involved in the National Photonics Initiative, but for the next generation of researchers, scientists, and consumers. As quantum technologies shift from the research stage to development and engineering, they are creating entirely new industries and opportunities for innovation. The bill establishes the collaborative framework that is needed to produce research breakthroughs that will ultimately lead to fully enabled quantum applications. The multi-year authorized funding provided in the bill makes clear the commitment the United States has to being a leader quantum information science and technology. SPIE stands ready to assist with implementation at the agencies involved, and to work with appropriators to fully fund this initiative."

Read the SPIE Press Release.

National Photonics Initiative Applauds Bipartisan Approval of NQI Act in U.S. Senate
14 December 2018

The National Photonics Initiative (NPI)—a broad-based collaborative alliance among industry, academia, and government to raise awareness of optics, photonics and quantum science and technology—is praising approval of the National Quantum Initiative (NQI) Act in the U.S. Senate. The House of Representatives approved its own version of the NQI Act, H.R. 6227, earlier this year.

“The Senate’s action today will help ensure the U.S. remains a global leader in quantum research and development. We applaud Senate passage of the NQI Act and for moving our country closer to a comprehensive quantum technology policy” said Ed White, Chair of the NPI Steering Committee and Vice President Test, Assembly, and Packaging for AIM Photonics. “As quantum research advances from the laboratory to the marketplace, the NQI Act will help guide the use of resources and keep our nation’s scientists and researchers at the forefront of this critical field.”  Read the Press Release

Panel Urges Preparations for Future Quantum Computers
12 December 2018

A new National Academies report reviews challenges to building a practical quantum computer and states it is difficult to project when, if ever, such a device will be realized. However, it urges actions be taken now to pave the way for future advances and prepare for their consequences.  Read More

Astro2020 Decadal Survey Shifts into Gear
The National Academies has issued a statement of task and selected the leaders for the next decadal survey in astronomy and astrophysics. Meanwhile, proponents of large projects are preparing their submissions for the survey.
7 December 2018

The National Academies announced on 28 November that astronomers Fiona Harrison and Robert Kennicutt will co-chair its next decadal survey for astronomy and astrophysics. Once complete, the survey will succeed the 2010 decadal survey as the authoritative encapsulation of the research community’s priorities. As such, it will provide critical guidance to NASA, the National Science Foundation, and Department of Energy as they plan their astronomy and astrophysics portfolios.  Read More

New Cryptography Must Be Developed and Deployed Now, Even Though A Quantum Computer That Could Compromise Today’s Cryptography Is Likely At Least A Decade Away, Says New Report
Report Details Risks and Benefits of Developing a Practical Quantum Computer, Identifies Metrics for Tracking Progress
4 December 2018

Given the current state of quantum computing and the significant challenges that still need to be overcome, it is highly unlikely that a quantum computer that can compromise public-key cryptography – a basis for the security of most of today’s computers and networks – will be built within the next decade, says a new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. However, because replacing an established internet protocol generally takes over a decade, work to develop and deploy algorithms that are resilient against an attack by a quantum computer is critical now.  Read More

SPIE attends the launch of the Clúster Mexicano de Fotónica
25 November 2018

SPIE CEO Kent Rochford was on hand to witness and celebrate the launch of the Mexican Photonics Cluster (CMF - Clúster Mexicano de Fotónica) at an event in Toluca, Mexico 15 to 17 November. The CMF is a non-profit organization founded to promote and enhance optics and photonics innovation in Mexico, by strategically articulating business, academy, government, and society.

"Towards a brighter Mexico: Optics and photonics roadmap" was released by the Mexican Photonics Initiative (MPI), a joint collaboration between ProMéxico, the Mexican federal government agency devoted to promote the attraction of direct foreign investment and the export of goods and services, as well as the internationalization of Mexican companies in order to contribute to Mexico's economic and social development and strengthen the country's image as a strategic business partner, and the International Commission for Optics. Among the recommendations of this roadmap—and a critical factor to its success—is the establishment of a Mexican Photonics Cluster.  Download the roadmap

U.S. Government Seeks Information On How to Control Emerging Technology
Quantum, AI, Navigation, and Biotechnology are among the listed technologies
19 November 2018

As of 19 November, the U.S. Department of Commerce will start accepting comments on how to control certain technologies for export. This request stems from the concern that some technologies, which are still considered emerging, have not been evaluated for their national security risk, and therefore are currently not controlled through regulation.

Many of these emerging technologies are critical to the optics and photonics community and any changes to their classification for export control could have a broad impact, so it is vital that the industry help shape these decisions.

The Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making (ANPRM) released in the Federal Register for public inspection 16 November, lists the 14 technology areas that the U.S. government is evaluating, and requests comment on “criteria for defining and identifying emerging technologies.” The ANPRM also seeks assistance in identifying specific emerging technologies that are essential to the national security within these areas.  Read the SPIE news article to learn more.

2018 Midterm Election Results: Outlook for Science Policy
The 2018 midterm election’s immediate effects on federal science policy will manifest primarily through changes in the composition of congressional committees, with the Democratic takeover of the House bringing new leadership to science policy and spending panels.
8 November 2018

The 2018 midterm elections mark a return to divided government in Washington, with Democrats securing control of the House for the first time since 2010. Meanwhile, Republicans will add up to three seats to their current one-seat majority in the Senate.

Among the election’s most immediate consequences for science policy will be the handover of House committee leadership positions to Democrats at the start of the 116th Congress, which begins Jan. 3. Although the parties’ leaders of key science policy and appropriations panels will likely not be determined until weeks into the new year, there are clear frontrunners for certain positions and some influential members are retiring or were defeated.  Read More

NSF Scaling Up STEM Diversity Efforts with INCLUDES Network
To address the persistent underrepresentation of women and minorities in STEM fields, the National Science Foundation has issued a set of major awards through its INCLUDES initiative to scale up promising strategies with a national network of projects.
2 November 2018

INCLUDES is entering a new phase. The National Science Foundation’s flagship initiative for increasing participation of underrepresented groups in STEM fields is aiming to establish a national network of programs that can scale up successful strategies for tackling longstanding workforce disparities. After funding dozens of pilot projects over the past two years, NSF recently issued six major awards to establish a set of partnership-based projects and a national “coordination hub” for the INCLUDES effort.  Read More

Quantum Technologies Flagship Kicks Off with First 20 Projects
The Quantum Technologies Flagship, a €1 billion initiative, was launched today at a high-level event in Vienna hosted by the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
18 October 2018

The Flagship will fund over 5,000 of Europe's leading quantum technologies researchers over the next ten years and aims to place Europe at the forefront of the second quantum revolution. Its long-term vision is to develop in Europe a so-called quantum web, where quantum computers, simulators and sensors are interconnected via quantum communication networks. This will help kick-starting a competitive European quantum industry making research results available as commercial applications and disruptive technologies. The Flagship will initially fund 20 projects with a total of €132 million via the Horizon 2020 programme, and from 2021 onwards it is expected to fund a further 130 projects. Its total budget is expected to reach €1 billion, providing funding for the entire quantum value chain in Europe, from basic research to industrialization, and bringing together researchers and the quantum technologies industry.  Read More

New U.S. Law Addresses Control of Emerging Technologies
Legislation could affect the future trade and growth of emerging photonic technologies.
11 October 2018

The current political and security climate has spurred interest in maintaining control of emerging technologies developed in the United States. How this is accomplished was a point of contention recently, as legislation titled the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA) moved through the U.S. Congress and was passed into law.  Read More

Read other past issues of the Public Policy News.