Chris Hoofnagle and Simson Garfinkel—Law and Policy for the Quantum Age

Quantum Age

Quantum Age

Chris Hoofnagle and Simson Garfinkel (NASW member)
Cambridge University Press, Jan 6, 2022
Hardcover: $89.99, Paperback: $29.99
Kindle: $24. PDF: Free (It’s open access.)
ISBN-10: 1108793177, ISBN-13: 978-1108793179

Garfinkel reports:

I was surprised to be seated next to my longtime colleague Chris Hoofnagle for the 12-hour flight from Jerusalem to New York in June 2019. On the flight, Chris told me of a law review article he was writing about quantum computing. We talked about his ideas the whole flight. The next day Chris sent me the article, I marked it up, and before I knew it, I was his co-author.

We soon realized this project was going to be much larger than a law review article, so we wrote a book proposal. Cambridge University Press, which had published Chris' previous book, bought it.

Simson Garfinkel

Simson Garfinkel

We took the law review article, which included an introduction to quantum physics, and focused it on the aspects of quantum phenomena that were relevant to quantum computing—specifically the hoped-for ability to crack codes and perform massively fast optimization problems. We added material on the theory of computation and explanations on how both digital computers and quantum computers actually compute. We took cybersecurity work on threat modeling and applied it to possible technology development and political futures.

Chris Hoofnagle

Chris Hoofnagle

Early on in the process, it was clear that the book would have massive numbers of citations, footnotes, and diagrams. Doing such a book with Microsoft Word would be a disaster, so I suggested using the LaTeX document preparation system and the Overleaf website to write and typeset the book. Our book has 100+ illustrations and dozens of typographical tricks to help to make this complex material understandable to people with liberal arts degrees and no more than a high school science education—that is, our target audience of lawyers and policymakers.

Our book throws cold water on the idea that quantum computers are just around the corner and that they will let shadowy government agencies crack all of the world’s encrypted messages. We expect a “quantum winter” sometime soon as funding dries up. At the same time, we write that quantum sensing creates new opportunities for intelligence gathering and has been underappreciated in the mainstream press. Time will tell if our predictions turn out to be correct.

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Hero photo by Alfons Morales on Unsplash.

January 12, 2022

Advance Copy

The path from idea to book may take myriad routes. The Advance Copy column, started in 2000 by NASW volunteer book editor Lynne Lamberg, features NASW authors telling the stories behind their books. Authors are asked to report how they got their idea, honed it into a proposal, found an agent and a publisher, funded and conducted their research, and organized their writing process. They also are asked to share what they wish they’d known when they started or would do differently next time, and what advice they can offer aspiring authors. Lamberg edits the authors’ answers to produce the Advance Copy reports.

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