Envisioning implications of Quantum technologies for society, economy and governance
In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, the emergence of second-generation quantum technologies stands as a monumental leap forward. These advancements are on one hand not merely incremental improvements; they represent a paradigm shift, promising to reshape industries, spawn new ones, and redefine the boundaries of what we believe is possible. From ultra-secure communication networks to compelling quantum computers, these technologies have the potential to solve problems that were once deemed unsolvable and answer questions that have perplexed humanity for ages.
The upcoming era of quantum technologies raises lots of ethical, legal, societal and political questions. While the concrete impact of these technologies can only be speculated about for now, critical questions around governance and security arise along the development of these technologies. The urge for more talents and education within society is already visible today. If it fails to prepare society and politics for the coming age of quantum, Europe will again have to play the same “Catch-Up Governance Game” as is the case for artificial intelligence. Given its potential disruptive effects, the Quantum Social Lab creates an open space to explore the disruptive implications, ethical and policy-based challenges of quantum technologies.
The lab focuses on research and innovation in the field of second-generation Quantum Technologies while also exploring their regulation and societal impact. Additionally, it offers teaching in Quantum Technologies' theoretical and technological foundations. The lab was kicked off by the TUM Think Tank at the Transatlantic Quantum Forum with support from Yale University, Arizona State University, and others. The forum sought to foster worldwide collaboration in tackling the questions, solutions, and challenges arising from the social impact of quantum technologies. Since then, the Quantum Social Lab has introduced different formats and has continued to build and support the future shapers of technology development in quantum technologies.
The Quantum Social Lab tries to advance itself in the area of:
1. Quantum Social Science Research
2. Quantum Social Science Education
3. Quantum Social Science Network Building
4. Young Quantum Social Scientists (Junior Research – and Application Projects)
Topics, activities & formats
The Quantum Social Lab initially focuses on the following issue areas, activities and formats:
Quantum Social Science Research
Researchers within the Quantum Social Lab work on a variety of questions including how the growing need for a qualified workforce can be met, how the wider public can participate in and be educated about Quantum technologies, what protections need to be implemented against malicious actors, or which balance is needed between advancing technological development while putting in place necessary safeguards without prohibiting innovation. This is done through a variety of activities and formats including analysis of policy documents and focus group discussions, multi-stakeholder workshops, and simulations of future scenarios caused by the upcoming quantum era.
The Research Group meets each month to further discuss different aspects of the changes introduced and caused by the rise of quantum technologies. Various research areas we want to further explore in the upcoming months are:
- 'Risks and Opportunities for responsible innovation'
- 'Interoperability of AI and Quantum Technology Systems for Creating a Value-based Innovation Ecosystem'
- 'Application of different responsibility Frameworks to the financial, medical and mobility Sector'
- 'The Potential of building Smart Cities by the help of Quantum Computers'
Quantum Governance Platform
Driven by the motivation to foster innovation in this field that aligns with ethical standards, benefits the society at large and adheres to standards of human-rights, sustainability and responsibility, the Quantum Social Lab provides a platform that brings together academics and practitioners from various disciplines and sectors, while also engaging with society. Its aim is to serve as an open space for cross-sectoral and cross-disciplinary discussion about the governance of Quantum technologies to unlock its potential while anticipating and safeguarding against negative effects. Another hope is to foster the much-needed interdisciplinary dialogue between different disciplines within and outside the Technical University of Munich.
Transatlantic Quantum Forum (TQF)
The TQF is a joint initiative of four research centers in the U.S. and Europe: The Center for Quantum Networks at the University of Arizona, the UCLA Institute for Technology, Law & Policy, the Yale Information Society Project, and the Quantum Social Lab at the TUM Think Tank hosting the European site.
Quantum Technologies Education
Teaching tomorrow’s shapers, deciders, and entrepreneurs is one main goal of the Quantum Social Lab. Members of the Quantum Social Lab offer courses on quantum technology applications such as quantum communications, quantum computing, and quantum sensing. Most courses within the quantum social lab have an interdisciplinary approach. Interventions aim to educate the broader public about the future of quantum technologies to foster a well-grounded understanding of these emerging technologies and possible transformations of their work-life. We foster dialogue, especially between students of natural sciences and social sciences to create a political and societal discourse, early-stage.
Young Quantum Social Scientists
Using challenge-based learning and design sprints, research clinics and other formats, the Young Quantum Social Scientists at the Quantum Social Lab offer the opportunity to tackle important governance challenges of Quantum applications. Each cohort consists of up to 20 students who can put their theoretical knowledge to use by addressing real-world problems. The Young Quantum Social Scientists is an initiative open to students of all study programs within Munich:
- From November 2023 onwards, we will offer 6 scholarships each semester to work in the development and of the different modules, challenges and projects within Quantworld. More information coming soon.
Partners & organization
The Quantum Social Lab hosted at the TUM Think Tank serves as an interdisciplinary and intersectoral knowledge hub co-led by Fabienne Marco, Urs Gasser and Philip Pfaller. It brings together stakeholders from academia, civil society, startups and the public sector to engage in open discussions around the future development of Quantum technologies.
The Quantum Social Lab creates an open knowledge hub for stakeholders from various sectors and disciplines to jointly engage in future-oriented thinking about the ethical, legal, societal, and political implications of the upcoming Quantum era.