Responsible Innovation and Quantum Technologies

September 17th, 2020

Building research capability to tackle the societal opportunities and challenges of quantum technologies

Project Duration: February 2020 – August 2021

CMOS bonded chip from the Quantum Nanoscience Lab

CMOS bonded chip from the Quantum Nanoscience Lab (Credit: EQUS); Current Projects page: Silicon skyline, Optical microscopy calibration of a Pentium 90 chip (Credit: EQUS/Alice Mahoney)

Investigating the societal expectations and implications of new quantum technologies

The Challenge

The first ‘quantum revolution’ led to the development of the laser and the transistor and laid the foundation for today’s communication and computation technologies. Now, advocates of quantum science and technology contend we are approaching a second revolution. This will see the development of new devices and products that use quantum properties of particles and atoms. Early indications suggest that these new quantum technologies will be disruptive and powerful with applications in wide-ranging areas, including health, finance, and defence.

At the same time, our understanding of the economic, societal, and, other risks and benefits associated with quantum technologies is still emergent. For example, quantum sensors might enable the collection of more accurate data on a person’s location or health, but this could inflame existing tensions about how and by whom that data is used and potential infringements of personal privacy. Bringing responsible innovation to the development of new quantum technologies helps us to anticipate and assess the potential implications and societal expectations of this area of science and technology.

Responding to the Challenge

CSIRO’s Responsible Innovation Future Science Platform and the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Quantum Engineered Systems (EQUS, lead node at the University of Queensland) have jointly funded a new Postdoctoral Fellowship to examine the role of responsible innovation in the design, development, and deployment of quantum technologies for Australia.

Dr Tara Roberson commenced in February 2020 to undertake collaborative research in this emerging field.  Her research is focused on anticipating and assessing the potential implications of quantum technologies for society. As part of this, Dr Roberson is exploring the perspectives of key research, industry, government, and societal stakeholders of the quantum technology sector in Australia

Project Impacts

This research aims to develop a new area of research with a focus on bringing new understanding to the societal aspects of quantum technologies. It aims to enable key stakeholders to examine responses to this emerging field and develop appropriate ‘quantum culture’, policy, and regulatory responses. This is essential if Australia is to exploit the full potential of quantum science and develop responsible and transformational technologies that will deliver benefit to society.


University of Queensland: Tara Roberson; EQUS: Andrew White; CSIRO: Justine Lacey

Additional information relating to this project is available as follows:

Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Quantum Engineered Systems (EQUS):

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