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Responsible quantum technologies movement

  • Context (TH): The United Nations would observe 2025 as the International Year of Quantum Science and Technology. Focusing on quantum technologies urges responsible quantum technologies.

Responsible quantum S&T

  • It aims to harness the value of quantum S&T while maintaining public trust. Risks of misuse and potential for dual use, like weakening digital security, must be addressed effectively.
    • For example, the U.K.’s ‘National Quantum Strategy’ commits to responsible innovation while developing quantum capabilities.

Quantum governance

  • The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Quantum Governance framework is based on transparency, inclusiveness, accessibility, non-maleficence, equitability, accountability, and the common good.
  • The WEF’s objective here is to accelerate the development of responsible quantum computing by building trust in the technology during its development to pre-empt and mitigate potential risks.
    • For example, IBM bars using its quantum products in potentially harmful applications.
  • Another framework adheres to ‘RRI’ (‘responsible research and information’)values, a concept and practice endorsed by the European Commission.
    • It emphasises ‘anticipation’, ‘reflection’, ‘diversity’, and ‘inclusion’ while foregrounding public engagement and ethical considerations.

Challenges

  • Disparity in capabilities: Gaps between countries in terms of quantum S&T capacities.
  • Lack of talent: Lack of access to talent and technologies could widen the gaps further.
  • Poor understanding of issues: Inflated expectations and overestimating our knowledge of ethical issues result in poor understanding.
  • National Policies: While global frameworks and initiatives urge openness, national policies prefer greater and stronger intellectual property rights protections vis-à-vis quantum technologies.
    • For example, the U.S. National Quantum Strategy favours government safeguarding to address the security implications of quantum S&T.
  • Private sector: Not likely to favour sharing & openness for responsible quantum technologies.

Way forward

  • A 2021 study by the University of Oxford researchers highlighted the need for a more granular understanding of governments’ responsibilities.
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