Feb 17, 2022

New Book From Chris Hoofnagle: Law and Policy for the Quantum Age

Quantum technologies are poised to change our lives. 

In a new book, Law and Policy for the Quantum Age, (Cambridge University Press 2022), Professor Chris Jay Hoofnagle and Simson L. Garfinkel explain the genesis of quantum information theory, and its applications through quantum sensing, computing, and communications.

Professor Hoofnagle holds dual appointments at UC Berkeley in Information and in the School of Law, where he is Professor of Law in Residence. He is faculty director for the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity. 

The importance of quantum sensing occupies a central thesis in The Quantum Age—a technology left in the shadows because of the spotlight on quantum computing. According to Hoofnagle and Garfinkel, “Quantum computing is a family of approaches for building computers that switch information with quantum interactions, rather than with the electronic interactions that power today’s computers.” Hoofnagle and Garfinkel project that quantum cryptanalysis, the process of studying cryptographic systems to look for weaknesses or leaks of information, is largely a bogeyman (monstrous, but imaginary) and that quantum computing more broadly is likely to suffer a “winter” like the AI winters of previous decades. 

The Quantum Age will nevertheless change our world, the authors posit, because quantum sensing has strategic implications and is now a battleground in the China-U.S.-EU technology superiority race. For America to perform in this race, it has to continue to invest in big science — particularly outer space, laser and optics — and reduce obstacles that complicate researchers’ work, embrace innovation, and optimize immigration to attract and retain the most promising scientists in the world.

The Quantum Age also could give rise to power imbalances, where those with quantum technologies can know more and understand more about the world than others, and these capabilities have few practical countermeasures. Hoofnagle and Garfinkel draw parallels to earlier generations of technology to show that we can anticipate the likely conflicts that will arise and build in safeguards now. 

“I decided to work on this topic after some great conversations with Lily Lin (MIMS 2019) in the context of the cybersecurity reading group,” Hoofnagle said. “After I developed an article, I ran into Simson Garfinkel on a plane. We talked for 10 hours and decided to convert the article into a full-length book together.”

“The book is a classic information school work ... a major portion of it is about information theory, and then a multidisciplinary analysis of technologies that emerge from information theory.”
— Chris Hoofnagle

Garfinkel is a Senior Data Scientist at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, a part-time faculty member at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, and a member of the Association for Computing Machinery’s US Technology Policy Committee (ACM USTPC). 

The duo decided to publish the book with open access “because we are both longtime government employees; our work should be available to the public,” Hoofnagle said. “We needed a book-length treatment of quantum technologies, but wanted the accessibility normally afforded to articles.”

“The book is a classic information school work,” Hoofnagle explained, “because a major portion of it is about information theory, and then a multidisciplinary analysis of technologies that emerge from information theory.”

The book can be purchased in print, or accessed in full at Cambridge.org.

Last updated:

February 17, 2022