World Economic Forum launches first quantum computing roadmap

World Economic Forum

A new Insight Report released at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2022 provides a roadmap for emerging opportunities in quantum computing, which is crucial in addressing future risks. 

The principles were co-designed by a global multi-stakeholder community composed of quantum experts, emerging technology ethics and law experts, decision makers and policy makers, social scientists and academics. 

“The critical opportunity at the dawn of this historic transformation is to address ethical, societal and legal concerns well before commercialisation,” World Economic Forum head of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Kay Firth-Butterfield said. 

“This report represents an early intervention and the beginning of a multi-disciplinary, global conversation that will guide the development of quantum computing to the benefit of all society.” 

CSIRO chief scientist Professor Bronwyn Fox said that the principles reflect conversations CSIRO’s scientists have had with partners from around the world who share an ambition for a responsible quantum future. 

“Embedding responsible innovation in quantum computing is key to its successful deployment and uptake for generations to come,” Fox said. “CSIRO is committed to ensuring these principles are used to support a strong quantum industry in Australia and generate significant social and public good.” 

The roadmap establishes best-practice principles and core values in adapting to a hybrid model of classical, multi-cloud and quantum computing. This will set the foundation for a new information-processing paradigm, while ensuring stakeholder equity, risk mitigation and consumer benefit. 

The themes defining the principles include: 

  1. Transformative capabilities; 
  2. Access to hardware infrastructure; 
  3. Open innovation; 
  4. Creating awareness; 
  5. Workforce development and capability-building; 
  6. Cyber security; 
  7. Privacy; 
  8. Standardisation; and 
  9. Sustainability. 

Quantum computing core values that hold across the themes and principles: 

  • Common good; 
  • Accountability; 
  • Inclusiveness; 
  • Equitability; 
  • Non-maleficence; 
  • Accessibility; and 
  • Transparency. 

“Governments and industries are accelerating their investments in quantum computing research and development worldwide,” World Economic Forum head of Digital Economy Derek O’Halloran said. 

“This report starts the conversation that will help us understand the opportunities, set the premise for ethical guidelines and pre-empt socioeconomic, political and legal risks well ahead of global deployment.” 

Next steps for the Quantum Computing Governance Initiative will be to work with wider stakeholder groups to adopt these principles as part of broader governance frameworks and policy approaches. With this framework, business and investment communities along with policy makers and academia will be better equipped to adopt to the coming paradigm shift. 

Ultimately, everyone will be better prepared to harness the transformative capabilities of quantum sciences – perhaps the most exciting emergent technologies of the 21st century.