The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent

How much of the quantum tech boom is just welfare for physicists?

Episode 391 of the Cyberlaw Podcast


That's the question I had after reading Law and Policy for the Quantum Age, by Chris Hoofnagle and Simson Garfinkel. It's a gracefully written and deeply informative look at the commercial and policy prospects of quantum computing and several other (often more promising) quantum technologies, including sensing, communications, and networking. And it left me with the question that heads this post. So, I invited Chris Hoofnagle to an interview and came away thinking the answer may be "close to half – and for sure all the quantum projects grounded in fear and envy of the National Security Agency." My exchange with Chris makes for a bracing and fast-paced half hour of futurology and policy and is not to be missed. Neither is the book.

Also not to be missed: Conservative Catfight II – Now With More Cats. That's right, Jamil Jaffer and I reprise our past debate over Big Tech regulation, this time focusing on S.2992, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, just voted out of the Senate Judiciary committee with a bipartisan set of supporters and detractors. In essence, the bill would impose special "no self-preferencing" obligations on really large platforms. Jamil, joined by Gus Hurwitz, thinks this is heavy handed government penalization of a few unpopular companies and completely unmoored from any harm to consumers. Jordan Schneider weighs in to point out that it is almost exactly the solution chosen by the Chinese government in its most recent policy shift. I argue that platforms are usually procompetitive when they start but inherently open to a host of subtle abuses once entrenched, so only a specially crafted regime will keep a handful of companies from amassing enormous economic and political power.

Doubling down on controversy, I ask Nate Jones to explain Glenn Greenwald's objections to the subpoena practices of Congress's  Jan. 6 Committee. I think the committee's legal arguments boil down to "When Congress wrote the rules for government, it clearly didn't intend for the rules to apply to Congress." And Greenwald is right in arguing that the Supreme Court in the 1950s treated Communists better than the January 6 committee is treating anyone even tangentially tied to the attack on the Capitol.

Nate and I try to figure out what Forbes was smoking when it tried to gin up a scandal from a standard set of metadata subpoenas sent to WhatsApp. Whatever it was, Forbes will need plenty of liquids and a few hours in a dark quiet room to recover.

In quick hits, Gus explains what it means that the Biden administration is rewriting the DOJ/FTC merger guidelines: essentially, the more the administration tries to make them mean, the less deference they'll get in court. And Jordan and I puzzle over the emphasis on small and medium business in China's latest five-year plan for the digital economy.

Download the 391st Episode (mp3)

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed. As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of their institutions, clients, friends, families, or pets.