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November 21, 2022 Science & Technology Law Section

Approach of quantum computing means lawyers should prepare

As the rapidly emerging quantum computing industry grows, concerns for how lawyers will deal with the revolutionizing technology grows too. These include issues related to faster processors, investors and startups and significant investments by corporations and governments.

Experts at a recent ABA webinar predict practical applications for quantum computing technology in three to five years.

Experts at a recent ABA webinar predict practical applications for quantum computing technology in three to five years.

“So, all of these things are kind of leading to … a number of larger issues in the legal community,” said Kaniah Konkoly-Thege, chief legal officer for Quantinuum during a free webinar by the ABA Science and Technology Law Section.

Quantum computing is defined as a new interdisciplinary field, which combines physics, computer science and engineering. The technology, which promises to outperform today’s computers in solving problems, is moving so quickly that practical applications are expected for quantum computing in three to five years, according to Mark Jackson, senior quantum evangelist at Quantinuum. “It will really change every area of science and technology,” Jackson said. It will influence areas such as fraud detection, natural language processing (example, Siri or Alexa) investment trading, pharmaceuticals and supply chain management, he added.

One of the primary legal areas already impacted is intellectual property law. Konkoly-Thege said patent applications are being filed for quantum computing hardware applications, operation systems, software applications and quantum algorithms. She said understanding the physics behind quantum computing could be a challenge for patent prosecution teams because of its complexity.

Issues surrounding quantum computing cybersecurity will also impact the legal community, Konkoly-Thege said. Some “bad actors” may “hack now, decrypt later,” because of the hopes of what quantum computers will be able to do in the future.

Lawyers are starting to develop contracts with strong requirements around cyber breaches, reportability and cybersecurity insurance. “A lot of these issues are stemming from this quantum threat,” Konkoly-Thege said. Protecting against “this threat is going to take a long time because the systems just aren’t strong enough today, but companies and governments are preparing today because the threat is out there. It will be coming,” he added.

According to Konkoly-Thege, governments around the world are “extremely concerned about their adversary’s ability to continue to develop the technology.” Countries are doing “everything they can to leapfrog their way to…technological supremacy and gain as much information and data as possible,” Konkoly-Thege said.

To learn more about quantum computing and its effect on lawyers, read an article with the same webinar title here.

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