>  WASHINGTON--Quantum computers don't exist outside the laboratory. But the
>  U.S. government appears to be exploring whether it should be illegal to
>  ship them overseas.
>
>  A federal advisory committee met Wednesday to hear an IBM presentation
>  about just how advanced quantum computers have become--with an eye toward
>  evaluating when the technology might be practical enough to merit
>  government regulation.

Suppose that quantum computers work and the NSA has them. What steps
can or should they take to try to stop the propagation of this
technology? If they come out too openly with restrictions, it sends a
signal that there's something there, which could drive more research
into the technology by the NSA's adversaries, the opposite of the
desired outcome. If they leave things alone then progress may continue
towards this technology that the NSA wants to suppress.

Something like the present action isn't a bad compromise. Work towards
restrictions on technology exports, but in a studiously casual
fashion. There's nothing to see here, folks. We're just covering our
bases, in the outside chance that something comes out of this way down
the road. Meanwhile we'll just go ahead and stop exports of related
technologies. But we certainly don't think that quantum computers are
practical today, heavens no!

CP

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