Tuesday, January 07, 2003

from Seth Lloyd to George W. Bush

This one from the Edge 2003 World Question Center:

"By their potential power, quantum computers pose a significant threat to the security not only of classified encoded material, but to the security of most commercial transactions, in particular those that take place electronically. Despite the clear application of quantum computation to problems of national security, your security agencies have elected to pursue the majority of their research on quantum computers by open competition for public funds, under the stipulation that the results of the research be published and made available to all.

This is a wise course."

Science is public knowledge. But science is not the only field where openness is important. The security failures of 9/11 were caused not by too little, but by too much secrecy. And the discussions that form public policy should be public.

I know that other advisors are offering you conflicting advice: keep your cards close to your chest—don't let our enemies (or our allies) benefit from our hard-earned knowledge. Don't listen to them. Science isn't poker: it only works when the cards are dealt face up. Don't go down in history as the Texan who closed the scientific frontier.

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