US President Joe Biden looks at quantum computer as he tours the IBM facility in Poughkeepsie, New York, on October 6, 2022. - IBM's CEO Arvind Krishna announced Thursday a $20-billion investment in quantum computing, semiconductor manufacturing and other high-tech areas in its New York state facilities. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The White House’s quantum dilemma

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Good morning! Companies have been discussing potential quantum computing restrictions with the government for a long time, but the Commerce Department now wants to roll out new controls as early as this year. It might not be as easy as it sounds.

How do you regulate quantum computing?

The Commerce Department is in the midst of developing new trade restrictions intended to blunt the progress of China’s quantum computing ambitions, Protocol’s Joe Williams and Max Cherney write, a move that comes on the heels of new export controls on advanced semiconductor tech.

It’s unclear how quickly quantum restrictions could be enacted. Discussions with the private sector — including Google, IBM, Quantinuum, and IonQ — have been ongoing for years, and span both the Biden and Trump administrations.

  • However, there’s mounting pressure to move faster, particularly from the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies, which see China’s progress on quantum as a significant concern, according to industry sources familiar with the deliberations.

Regulating the sector could be tricky for the Biden administration. Quantum computing is a nascent technology, especially when compared to other emerging tech areas like AI.

  • It’s unclear exactly how the Commerce Department would craft any new export controls given quantum computers are still very much still in the development stage.
  • It’s notable, however, that the administration appears to be narrowing in on specific areas, like error-correction software, as well as end applications that will eventually run on top of the quantum computers, the sources said.
  • The most pressing problem when it comes to regulating quantum computing is that no one knows exactly what successful quantum computers will look like. Unlike more mature areas of tech such as semiconductors, there aren’t easily identifiable chokepoints that could be cut off.

Export controls could harm the overall progress of the field, or even torpedo it, and pave the way for other countries to take a more commanding lead in the development of the tech that, while still very experimental, may obliterate the capabilities of classical computing.

Read more: Biden’s push for new quantum controls has a big problem

Microsoft's Chinese AI conundrum

Microsoft has been instrumental in making China an AI powerhouse. But as tensions rise between the U.S. and China, Microsoft could be forced to make tough decisions surrounding the thriving AI ecosystem it helped create in the country, Protocol’s Kate Kaye reports.

Microsoft Research Asia is one of the most influential hubs of AI research in the world. Research conducted at MSR China has been used to build Microsoft’s advertising, chatbots, Bing search, Windows, Xbox, Azure Cloud, and other products.

  • “You can argue that Microsoft Research Asia was the sort of seed capital from which a lot of Chinese AI companies and researchers and the sector really developed,” Paul Triolo, senior VP focused on China at Albright Stonebridge Group, told Kate.

Microsoft’s AI work with China has gone far past research. It’s also helped cultivate AI talent and better understand China’s massive market. The lab works with thousands of engineers across the country, nurturing close ties with universities to get there.

  • “Instead of waiting for folks to come to the U.S., get their PhD or whatever, and then hire them into MSR, we could just go directly there,” said Kevin Goldsmith, chief technology officer at open-source AI software company Anaconda.

But a potential breakup is on the minds of many in tech. These days, Microsoft is not eager to broadcast its storied career with building AI in China, possibly because the company’s expanding business in China has become increasingly sensitive in the U.S.

  • Microsoft cut ties with China’s drone tech giant DJI in 2021 after it landed on a U.S. sanctions list, and it’s rumored that the company has stopped recruiting from some Chinese universities.
  • Plus, the tension will likely affect more than just Microsoft: Most of the top U.S. tech companies building AI today have operations in China, including Amazon, Google, and Apple.

Read more: Microsoft helped build AI in China. Chinese AI helped build Microsoft.

When to call it a day as CEO

In August, Jason Gardner announced he would step down as CEO of fintech platform Marqeta. Gardner founded the company by himself in 2010, helming it through its IPO in 2021.

Why did Gardner decide to step back? A private company CEO is very different from a public company CEO, he told Protocol’s Ben Pimentel: “I felt that, heading into my 13th year, I needed to find that late-stage co-founder."

  • Gardner said as a private CEO, you can change your company more freely. You face more limitations as a public CEO and “in some ways, entrepreneurs just aren't built for that,” he said.
  • "I believe that the company and our investors will be better served by focusing on people, products, and our customers, because that's what I'm great at," he added.
  • He will take on the role of executive chairman once his replacement is found, stepping away from the “day-to-day running of the business.”

And what did Gardner learn from his 12 years running Marqeta?

  • “Companies don't die from starvation,” Gardner said. “They die from overeating.” He stayed laser-focused on modern card issuing instead of trying to tackle every industry problem.
  • You fail a lot more than you succeed. “Find out what you don't want to do,” he said. “That’ll lead you to the direction that you should be on.”

Read more: How I decided my startup needed a new leader

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People are talking

Amazon Music VP Steve Boom doesn’t think NFTs will upend the music industry:

  • “I don’t stay up at night worrying about NFTs, and I don’t think it’s going to end the business.”

Kevin Goldsmith, chief technology officer at Anaconda, credits open source for the machine learning and AI advancements we’re seeing today:

  • “I don’t think we’d have the kind of machine learning boom we are having without open source. I just don’t think it would have been possible.”

Making moves

The Twitter exodus continues. Ad sales chief Sarah Personette resigned last week. So did Dalana Brand, chief people and diversity officer. Nick Caldwell, a general manager for core technologies, is now a “former Twitter exec.” CMO Leslie Berland, head of product Jay Sullivan, and vice president of global sales Jean-Philippe Maheu have also left, according to Reuters.

Brazilian fintech company Nubank opened a new building in Sao Paulo. It will be used for big events, training and parties.

Protocol Live: AI and chips

This virtual event hosted by Protocol will bring together tech and policy experts to discuss the future of AI-related partnerships existing among tech businesses, developers and AI researchers in the U.S. and China. Join us at 10:30 a.m. PT tomorrow. RSVP here.

In other news

The current plan for Twitter Blue is to charge $8 per month, according to Elon Musk, which would include verification. Extra revenue dollars may be useful: IPG, one of the world’s biggest advertisers, told clients to temporarily pause spending on the social network, according to The New York Times.

Uber is testing push-notification ads and users aren’t happy. Uber told TechCrunch “this was a limited test and users can always manage their mobile notification settings.”

New OpenSSL vulnerabilities are less severe than thought. The team behind the open-source encryption software initially flagged the bugs as “critical,” but have now downgraded them to “high.”

Data centers must prepare for the climate crisis. The Uptime Institute, which advises infrastructure companies on reliability, suggests spreading workloads between data centers and regions and investing in disaster prediction resources.

Sony's PlayStation Plus service lost subscribers for the third straight quarter, but in a twist, PS Plus is contributing to higher gaming network services revenue.

Shein has a copycat problem. Will first-mover advantage be enough to keep the fast-fashion giant ahead?

TomTom released a new mapping platform that it claims offers the largest geolocation database available.

SoFi has $5 billion in customer deposits less than a year after the fintech lender acquired the banking charter required to directly hold customer cash.

A social network for HODLers

Kraken’s Cryptowatch yesterday launched Cryptowatch Social, a social media network for crypto enthusiasts. Cryptowatch founder Artur Sapek told Protocol's Ben Pimentel that the new social network’s goal is to become “the discussion center of the crypto world.” We thought that was Twitter, but not to worry.

Anyway, what can you expect? Apparently, Cryptowatch will allow crypto fans to check prices, make trades on multiple exchanges, and analyze market trends. The social network plans to add “social features,” including “live idea feeds and chart sharing,” and it will also stream Crypto Fight Night live from Dubai.

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