Principles guide government investment in quantum computing

By Jackson Graham

January 25, 2022

quantum computing
A new WEF report has flagged the risks of quantum computing. (vchalup/Adobe)

Quantum computing will bring new opportunities for governments but also needs management with strong foresight, according to new World Economic Forum (WEF) principles. 

National governments have invested more than $25 billion in quantum computing research, with the high-scale and high-speed method of computing set to disrupt how governments, businesses and scientists use technology. 

The Australian government unveiled in November 2021 a technology blueprint with an initial focus on guiding investment in quantum computing, including through a $70 million Quantum Commercialisation Hub. 

Professor Bronwyn Fox, chief scientist at CSIRO, said embedding responsible innovation into quantum computing was key to its successful deployment.

A new WEF report has flagged risks that include a lack of due diligence in not uncovering the technology’s transformational impact, disproportionate power in the hands of the few, and a lack of focus on applications that have social good. 

It also flags the possibility of some harmful developments of quantum computing, with risks to data not protected with quantum-secure cryptography, and the misuse by authoritarian regimes or power organisations by encroaching on privacy and civil liberties. 

The WEF has agreed to principles grouped around nine core values to help guide investment in the technology into the future. 

The values aim to direct the technology at the common good and to ensure accountability, inclusiveness, equitability, non-maleficence, accessibility and transparency. 

Derek O’Halloran, the WEF’s head of digital economy, said the report sets out the ethical guidelines to pre-empt socioeconomic, political and legal risks “well ahead of global deployment”. 

Fox said the principles reflected conversations CSIRO scientists had with partners around the world. 

“CSIRO is committed to ensuring these principles are used to support a strong quantum industry in Australia and generate significant social and public good,” she said.


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