Quantum Impact Assessment

Impressive progress is being made on the development of quantum technologies, quantum artificial intelligence (QAI) and quantum-relativistic hybridized HPC approaches, to operate beyond classical supercomputing. It is exactly at this early stage that we need to think about the impact of these technologies when we still have the power to shape and direct these technologies effectively. At the same time, we currently lack crucial knowledge about the specific kind of issues that may arise with the use of quantum technology, beyond privacy and defensive and offensive cybersecurity. What we need at this stage, are tools to help us explore possible applications and novel use cases, enabling us to anticipate what is needed to make optimal use of these applications in a responsible way. At the current technology readiness levels (TRL), such interdisciplinary explorations should take the form of a practical step-by-step method that organizations can use to take cognizance of quantum technology’s potential impact on their organization and to start a dialogue about embedding this technology within society. TRL timelines differ per quantum domain such as sensing, simulation, computation, networking, imaging, cryptography, materials & devices, as well as quantum centric, inspired, and hybrid approaches.

In time, we will also need tools for assessing the impact of 2G quantum technology. Quantum Impact Assessments are important practical tools to facilitate responsible quantum technology adoption. Together with codes of conduct, best practices, roadmaps, and physics de-risking tools, QIA instruments can be used by stakeholders to explore and analyze how current technological developments affect the world we live in.

Technology impact assessment is about monitoring and determining the unintended, indirect, or delayed societal impacts of a future technological innovation. It is also about capitalizing on opportunities and enabling responsible innovation. Establishing a risk-based legal-ethical framework that sets clear liability & insurance rules to protect both government & industry developers and end users/consumers, in combination with impact assessments, standardization, certification, and life cycle auditing of quantum driven systems, is crucial to stewarding society towards responsible quantum innovation.

Implementing interdisciplinary, expert-based QIA’s can help raising awareness about the ELSPI dimensions of quantum technology and quantum-classical hybridization such as quantum centric supercomputing, and quantum-inspired classical algorithmic research. QIA’s can serve as a moral guide to operationalize our proposed 10 Principles for Responsible Quantum Technology. For example, QIA’s can cultivate a deeper understanding about the potential dual use character of quantum.

As quantum technology matures, ideally QIA’s evolve in parallel towards fully fledged quantum domain-specific technology assessment instruments, either voluntary and self-regulatory, or mandatory to optimize risk-benefit curves, employing modern system-safety engineering approaches (such as STAMP) rather than rely on reductionist risk-assessment tools, whose inability to handle emergent properties makes them unfit for analyzing the risks of complex systems. QIA’s can be connected to interoperability standards, certification, and market entrance. Together with our transatlantic research partners, this Project aims to both develop QIA instruments in multidisciplinary settings, create blueprints tailored to the specifics and existing quality management systems (QMS) of market verticals like Healthcare, Manufacturing, Finance and Defense. The Project aspires to subsequently gain experience with implementing these tools across society’s economic sectors and industries.

An overview of Quantum Impact Assessment on the website of the European Commission: https://futurium.ec.europa.eu/en/european-ai-alliance/best-practices/quantum-technology-impact-assessment