Global effort to build the quantum economy
The potential of quantum computing is expected to be unprecedented. Quantum computing is already recognised as a strategic technology by the world’s leading economies; it is expected to unlock new capability in modelling and understanding of chemical and biological systems, to solve complex logistical and financial optimisation problems, and to enable entirely new approaches to fundamental science and technology development.
While quantum computing is widely anticipated to be transformative across society, there are challenges that we just don’t fully comprehend yet, and these need to be identified, considered and managed as early as possible. These include the cybersecurity risks that come with powerful quantum computation and the sheer scale of potential for rapid technological advances by anyone having access to a quantum computer. Industry and government should consider how to prepare for these developments. Other concerns relate to hype which leads to unrealistic expectations. These factors can undermine the development and adoption of technology.
At CSIRO, we are doing our part to tackle quantum readiness. CSIRO has a considerable advantage in helping to establish a strong foundation for the quantum industry because of our deep engagement with end-users across all major sectors globally. Working with end-users gives us a direct line of communication to where the existing big problems are and helps us hypothesise and develop ready solutions.
The Quantum Technologies Future Science Platform also employs that approach, albeit with a longer time horizon of 10+ years in mind. It is establishing a wide-spread capability base in quantum technologies that both leverages existing strengths in areas like algorithms and security, materials and modelling, sensing and devices and seeding new areas of opportunity like quantum biotechnology.
Director of the Future Science Platform, Professor James Rabeau, said Australia needs to increase its overall ‘Quantum IQ’ in order for quantum technologies to be successfully developed and taken up.
“People at every link in the value chain need some level of quantum knowledge to help in the translation of this deep-technology, in order to have practical and widespread impact,” said Prof Rabeau.
In terms of managing the opportunities and risks, CSIRO has previously collaborated with the World Economic Forum in its efforts to develop the world’s first global governance guidelines to ensure this technology can be developed and deployed in a safe, responsible and secure way.
The importance of uplifting the global quantum ecosystem has been in focus for the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Quantum Computing. The Council brings together participants to drive international collaboration and create public-facing and accessible information about quantum computing, and it has just released a global report on the state of quantum computing.
Dr Justine Lacey, Director of CSIRO’s Responsible Innovation Future Science Platform, has been working with the Council over the past year.
“One of the great challenges of quantum computing is that it is the domain of deep expertise and specialist knowledge. But if we are to truly prepare for and embrace the changes at a societal scale, we need to make quantum computing accessible to a range of different stakeholder interests and end users,” said Dr Lacey.
This new report released by the World Economic Forum aims to provide a clear, concise but also neutral assessment on the global state of play for quantum computing for that broader range of stakeholders and end users. The report synthesises key information designed to help industry and policy makers identify the key actions they can take to prepare their sector and state for this technology as it matures.
A key conclusion of the report identifies that governments, business and research organisations have the potential to accelerate technology development for the common good if they work together. In effect, the report provides a guide for uplifting the global quantum ecosystem and Australia has much to bring to this global effort.