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Quantum Technologies
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1Quantum Revolution& Advanced AI2HumanAugmentation3Eco-Regeneration& Geo-Engineering4Science& Diplomacy1.11.21.31.42.12.22.32.43.13.23.33.43.54.14.24.34.44.5HIGHEST ANTICIPATIONPOTENTIALAdvancedArtificial IntelligenceQuantumTechnologiesBrain-inspiredComputingBiologicalComputingCognitiveEnhancementHuman Applications of Genetic EngineeringRadical HealthExtensionConsciousnessAugmentation DecarbonisationWorldSimulationFuture FoodSystemsSpaceResourcesOceanStewardshipComplex Systems forSocial EnhancementScience-basedDiplomacyInnovationsin EducationSustainableEconomicsCollaborativeScience Diplomacy
1Quantum Revolution& Advanced AI2HumanAugmentation3Eco-Regeneration& Geo-Engineering4Science& Diplomacy1.11.21.31.42.12.22.32.43.13.23.33.43.54.14.24.34.44.5HIGHEST ANTICIPATIONPOTENTIALAdvancedArtificial IntelligenceQuantumTechnologiesBrain-inspiredComputingBiologicalComputingCognitiveEnhancementHuman Applications of Genetic EngineeringRadical HealthExtensionConsciousnessAugmentation DecarbonisationWorldSimulationFuture FoodSystemsSpaceResourcesOceanStewardshipComplex Systems forSocial EnhancementScience-basedDiplomacyInnovationsin EducationSustainableEconomicsCollaborativeScience Diplomacy

Emerging Topic:

1.2Quantum Technologies

Associated Sub-Fields

Systems made up of subatomic particles like electrons and photons are subject to physical laws unlike the ones we are familiar with. Quantum technologies make use of two phenomena unique to such quantum systems. One is “superposition”, where a quantum entity’s physical properties remain undefined until they are measured, creating an entirely novel mechanism for encoding information. The other is “entanglement”, where quantum entities have intertwined properties that mean action on one entity instantly affect the outcome of future actions on its entangled twin, even when they are physically separated. 

These phenomena allow cryptographic keys to be shared securely over hundreds of kilometres, quantum computers to solve classically intractable problems and quantum sensors to make measurements of unprecedented precision. These technologies are still under development, but already pose challenges: for example, we can confidently anticipate that future quantum computers will be able to crack most of the encryption techniques currently used to secure communications and data. More speculatively, it has been suggested that quantum phenomena might play a role in processes such as the functions of biological systems, which if confirmed would raise the prospect of unanticipated new technologies. 

Selection of GESDA Best Reads and key reports 

Many countries, companies, and research collaborations have produced roadmaps outlining the technological milestones on the way to mature quantum technologies. For example, the European Quantum Flagship’s Strategic Research Agenda offers a good overview of field including milestones.1 The UK’s roadmap lists concrete applications.2 The US National Strategic Overview for Quantum Information Science addresses policy issues related to education, workforce and the collaborations between academia, the government and the quantum industry.3 The Oida Quantum Photonics Roadmap provides a synthetic table of possible applications.4

Few emerging disciplines have received more attention in recent years than quantum technologies, with many countries, companies, and researchers producing roadmaps charting out the future of the field. Much of the focus has been on quantum computing so despite its undeniably disruptive potential, much of the anticipatory work is already underway. In contrast, the role of quantum effects in biology has received little attention so far. Major breakthroughs in this area are not expected for many years making it hard to assess their disruptive potential, but this uncertainty and the field’s low visibility suggests it is one worth paying more attention to.

GESDA Best Reads and Key Resources