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White House budget proposes to hike AI and quantum funding by 30 percent to stay ahead of China

[Aug. 17, 2020: Joseph Shavit]

U.S. chief technology officer Michael Kratsios [Photo: Michael Brochstein/Zuma Press]

If the US is going to build a quantum internet and otherwise claim technical supremacy, it is going to need appropriate funding — and that might be forthcoming.

The White House’s fiscal year 2021 budget proposal includes $1.5 billion for AI, up from about $1.12 billion in 2020, and $699 million for quantum information science, up from about $579 million in 2020. The $2.2 billion total funding proposal for 2021 represents about a 30% increase over the $1.7 billion in spending across the two technologies that was appropriated by Congress this year.

The 2021 funding proposal for the technologies was released Friday as part of an AI and quantum technology research and development report from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

About $25 million of that spending would go toward the quantum internet plan. Other funds would go toward AI research institutes from agencies like the Agriculture Department and National Science Foundation. Other elements of the proposal aren’t as specific but emphasize the need for AI in healthcare (particularly during the pandemic) and “advanced manufacturing” for the next wave of quantum computing devices.

It is not surprising why the US would devote more money to these efforts. US Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios stressed that the country needed to be “winning and leading” not just in present-day technology, but also that which would “define our future.” It’s concerning that countries like China might claim an edge, and the extra spending theoretically helps.

The 2021 budget still has to clear both sides of Congress.


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What can we learn?

AI and Quantum Information Science have the power to revolutionize computing, productivity, finance, security and drive exponential growth in manufacturing. People will be hard-pressed to find an area in society where these technologies won't have a 10x impact.

The Forbes Technology Council has identified 13 industries soon to be revolutionized by AI.

An excellent Wired Magazine article called "Quantum computing and quantum supremacy, explained" explains Quantum computing, how it works and what the potential impacts are.


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