Quantum Computing Ethics

A global multi stakeholder initiative to create an ethical framework enabling the responsible design and adoption of quantum computing 

The challenge

Quantum computing, though at its early stages, will help provide very significant advances in our computing capabilities and will have a considerable impact on improving the state of the world in the coming years. It could have a revolutionary impact on human well-being, national security, and global society, along with potential commercial applications across industries. With the emergence of the quantum ecosystem around the world, inherent risks of relying on quantum computing have also emerged across a number of areas. Will quantum computing add to the risks (as well as benefits) of an algorithm-based society? Are there new challenges? Will the public trust technologies which they cannot understand and whose results they cannot verify? Will quantum computers be able to break existing cryptographic standards? Who will have access to the new technologies? In parallel, countries and companies pioneering the development of this technology will certainly consolidate their position in an increasingly automated and digitized world.

The opportunity

The most appropriate and effective time to consider the ethical implications of a technology is when that technology is still in the design and development phase as it allows for early intervention. Ethical concerns in quantum computing are just starting to be discussed, however, ethical “guidelines” do not yet exist globally. Drawing on the learnings of ethical principles and approaches to mitigating risks and unintended consequences in other emerging technologies like AI, nanotech, nuclear energy, and GMOs, there is a need to study the ethical implications of the technology. Quantum computing related risks can be mitigated through a selection of effective governance and policy measures, while creating awareness among relevant stakeholders. Developing effective guidelines for the public and private sectors, academia and other stakeholders is timely if we want to promote the adoption of responsible quantum computing.

Impact

This initiative is bringing together a global multistakeholder community of experts from across public sector, private sector, academia and civil society to formulate principles and create a broader ethical framework for responsible and purpose-driven design and adoption of quantum computing technologies to drive positive outcomes for society.  

Our Approach:


  • Frame stakeholder conversations and create ecosystem awareness of how quantum ethics can be used to create a better society 

  • Study the inherent risks, ethical questions, societal implications and other unknown impacts associated with quantum computing 

  • Design Quantum Computing ethics principles

  • Design a broader framework for the responsible design and adoption of quantum computing 

  • Test the framework in a few emerging applications of quantum computing to be identified by the expert community

How to engage

Project community: Nominate quantum experts, policy‐makers, emerging technologies ethics experts or senior executives to provide ongoing input on the project.

Fellow: Nominate an individual from your organization to play an integral role in shaping this initiative

Contact

For more information on this project, please contact:

Kay Firth Butterfield, Head of AI and Machine Learning, at Kay.Firth-Butterfield@weforum.org

Arunima Sarkar, Project Lead, AI & Machine Learning at arunima.sarkar@weforum.org

Claude Dyer, Community Coordinator, Digital Economy & New Value Creation at claude.dyer@weforum.org

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