Cyber Security Webinar

April 10, 2024

A Conversation on Quantum Technology with Kate Weber, PhD

By Gabrielle Curran and Margaret Fahey

On Thursday, March 28th, the French-American Foundation—United States hosted a Cyber Security Webinar on quantum technology. The Foundation welcomed featured speaker Kate Weber, PhD, Head of Governance, Google Quantum AI at Google, and moderator Maura Sullivan, PhD, U.S. Young Leader ’20 and Managing Director, Applied AI at Applied Materials, for a fascinating conversation focused on quantum computing and its implications for cyber security.

The program began with a brief overview of quantum technology and its potential problem-solving capabilities. Kate explained that over the past decade,  there has been a shift in focus from the academic side of quantum to the industrial side, where many companies are now centering significant investments. This industrial progress has led experts to believe that a fault-tolerant quantum computer will be achieved in the next decade.

Maura and Kate discussed the recent leap in development of generative AI and contrasted the speed of advancement with the quantum field. They also touched on subjects such as the race for quantum, as well as the creation of encryption protocols and the role of public and private sectors in data protection. They explained that ongoing efforts to standardize quantum computing algorithms, which organizations like the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have been working towards since 2017, will help to protect data from malicious actors by migrating to post-quantum cryptography. Ideally, said Kate, standards should be harmonized across countries, particularly for multinational companies like Google, who have a role in protecting data and thus participating in the algorithm standardization process.

Regarding the geopolitical impacts of quantum computing, Kate stated that the goal is to make quantum technology accessible to as many people as possible while restricting its access for malicious purposes. She explained that global cooperation is needed to make quantum and post-quantum technology as successful as possible. “This is going to be a global industry,” emphasized Kate. “There is no way that one country can develop this on its own.”

During the live Q&A session, audience members had the opportunity to discuss quantum computing as it relates to the development of computer hardware, environmental impact, education and the future workforce, American and European approaches to standardization, and preparing for a post-quantum world.

Looking forward, Kate said that she is excited to work in quantum technology because of its relative newness. “I think it’s exciting to be working on a technology at this stage where you have the ability to shape it,” she elaborated. “We are only at the tip of the iceberg.”

The Foundation extends its sincerest gratitude to Kate and Maura for such a captivating discussion on an important topic in national security and the future of technology.

Watch the recording

About the French-American Foundation’s Cyber Security Webinars:

Building on the French-American Foundation’s longstanding commitment to advancing transatlantic dialogue on cyber security-related issues, our webinar series complements the Foundation’s annual two-day Cyber Security Conference in December. These webinars are open to the public and engage high-level American and French experts in conversations on today’s most pressing cyber security challenges in a transatlantic context.