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Carnegie Corporation of New York announces award of major grant to the Centre for International Security Studies at the University of Sydney for Project Q

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Who will benefit from and who will be harmed by the advent of quantum computing, communications and artificial intelligence? Are social media, global surveillance, data-mining and other networked technologies already producing quantum effects in world politics? Will a quantum revolution present us with sentient programs, feral algorithms and non-human forms of intelligence? Who will ‘win’ the quantum race? When and how will quantum be ‘weaponised’? What are the implications for peace and security?

These and other pressing questions have been the key issues addressed by the first-ever multidisciplinary project on quantum innovations, ‘Project Q: Peace and Security in a Quantum Age’. Started three years ago by the Centre for International Security Studies (CISS) with funding from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the School of Social and Political Sciences and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Project Q was created to assess the possibility, significance and global impact of new quantum technologies.

In short order, Project Q created an innovative one-stop website, organized four international symposia at Sydney’s historic Q Station and produced over 50 video features and interviews with leading experts. In recognition of its accomplishments, the Carnegie Corporation of New York has awarded a new USD$400,000 grant that will allow CISS to continue its quantum investigations and to share its findings through a broad range of multimedia.

‘Project Q was originally conceived as a thought experiment’, says CISS Director and Michael Hintze Chair of International Security, James Der Derian. ‘With the first atomic revolution in mind, we thought it better to assess the risks and benefits of a potent new technology before rather than after it becomes operational. But news of quantum innovations now appears on almost a daily basis, and, thanks to Carnegie making a long-shot bet, we’re the only multidisciplinary project out there that is ready to move from speculative inquiry to a full-on research program able to make policy recommendations.’

Over the next three years Project Q will continue to gather expert knowledge and stimulate public debate through a series of international symposia, lectures, workshops and video features. The project endeavors to step outside of professional silos, reaching across the natural and social sciences as well as governmental, corporate and university communities. Working with a team of scholars, students and media makers, Project Q will produce a broad spectrum of media – including a special journal issue, collection of essays, digital ‘green paper’ and a documentary film – to inform the public and provoke a policy debate on the implications of quantum innovation for peace and security.

Project Q team (Jack McGrath and James Der Derian in the green room interview with Mark Levinson, Director of “Particle Fever” documentary.

To learn more about Project Q visit the Q website, join the Q Blog, or follow @sydneyciss on Twitter.

All, Q3

Watch the Quantum Moment and Matter panels from the Q3 Symposium

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View the full recordings of the Quantum Moment and Matter panels from the third annual Q Symposium, held in February this year.

The Quantum Moment panel was opened by Associate Professor Michael Biercuk (Quantum Control Lab, University of Sydney) on the new quantum revolution and the unique opportunities provided by current quantum research. His presentation was followed by Professor Shohini Ghose (Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada) on quantum diversity and her interesting take on what it takes to be a quantum feminist. Finally, Assistant Professor Bentley B. Allan closed the panel with his presentation on the implications of quantum interpretations and technologies for the cosmological basis of political discourses.

The Quantum Matter panel began with Professor Andrew Dzurak (University of New South Wales) who presented his work in silicon-based quantum computing at the Centre for Quantum Computer Technology. Professor Chao-yang Lu (University of Science and Technology China) then discussed his research in perfecting single photons for multi-photon experiments, and was followed by Professor Stephen Bartlett (University of Sydney) who described new approaches to understanding quantum physics in the macroscopic world.

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Sydney University quantum lab receives multimillion dollar grant from US intelligence

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The Quantum Control Lab, led by Q3 Speaker, Associate Professor Michael Biercuk at the University of Sydney’s new Nanoscience Hub has been awarded a multimillion dollar grant for research in quantum computing by the US office of the Director of National Intelligence, reported by the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday.

The Nanoscience Hub is the only facility in Australia chosen for the US funding and the grant forms part of a program run by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA).

According to the report, IARPA’s program aims to deliver a “logical quantum bit based on trapped ions”, whereby quantum bits (qubits) are the building blocks for quantum computing, promising to revolutionise the way computers work.

Associate Professor Biercuk commented on the intelligence funding from IARPA as “not about building weapons but for supporting applied science research.” He also described the diversity of funding programs in the US, many from the military or intelligence organisations unlike Australia. (more…)

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The Q3 Symposium: Quantum Mind panel

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Following on from the Quantum Moment and Quantum Matter panels on the previous day, Q participants gathered to contemplate the implications of quantum for the mind and consciousness, after a video lecture and Q&A with Professor Alexander Wendt on his book ‘Quantum Mind and Social Science’

The diverse panel was comprised of materials scientist Dr Anirban Bandyopadhyay from the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan, neurologist Dr Andrew Duggins of the University of Sydney Medical School, and molecular geneticist Professor Johnjoe McFadden of the University of Surrey. The panel was moderated by international relations theorist Professor Colin Wight of the University of Sydney.

The discussion centred primarily on the nature of information processing in the brain and branched out from there to consider issues such as how consciousness might arise, the portability of quantum-level processes to the classical scale, and finally the broader implications of quantum mindedness for how we should commence the discussion on security in a quantum age.


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Sydney University to open the Nanoscience Hub for the quantum technologies of the future

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The University of Sydney is set to open its one of a kind Nanoscience Hub on April 20, following a public lecture on April 19. The news of the launch has been published on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Associate Professor Michael Biercuk, Professor Benjamin Eggleton and Professor David Reilly will run the three flagship projects at the new Hub on quantum simulations, building quantum devices, and the development of nanoscale photonic circuits, respectively.

Both Associate Professor Biercuk and Professor Reilly have presented papers on their work in quantum technology at the Q Symposium, and Project Q is pleased to be part of a quantum revolution that both are aspiring to build.

You can read about the Quantum Moment panel, where Associate Professor Biercuk presented a paper on The new quantum revolution, and listen to Professor Reilly’s interview with Project Q on the disruptive technologies of quantum mechanics.

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The Q3 Symposium: Quantum Matter panel

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In February 2016, Q participants gathered to hear about the principles and implications of quantum technology from the ‘Quantum Matter’ panel, comprised of three distinguished quantum physicists.

Local panellists included Professor Stephen Bartlett, who leads a research program in theoretical quantum physics at the University of Sydney, and Professor Andrew Dzurak, director of the research program into silicon-based quantum computing at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). The panel was completed by an international guest, Professor Chao-yang Lu, a leading researcher in quantum physics at the University of Science and Technology China (USTC), and moderated by Project Q’s own Dr. Frank Smith, from the Centre for International Security Studies at the University of Sydney.

Throughout the discussion, panellists considered several common themes: the nature of quantum knowledge, its implications and relevant stakeholders framed the discussion on Quantum Matter. (more…)

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The Q3 Symposium: Quantum Moment panel


The inaugural panel for Q3 began with the observation that, “Political Science had given up on the future.” In his opening words, Director James Der Derian remarked that what has hindered our ability to prepare for the shocks to the international system has been the abandonment of the essential imperative to speculate. When the premise of a peace and security symposium is speculation, identifying vantage points becomes the primary challenge. Assembling thinkers from a spectrum of methods, disciplines, and cultures, the opening panel traced three of these points.


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Spooky action is closer than you think: Dr. Jairus Grove discusses quantum insecurity on ABC’s Radio National

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Project Q’s co-investigator Dr. Jairus Grove (Center for Futures Studies, University of Hawaii) joined host Joe Gelonesi on the ABC Radio National program The Philosopher’s Zone shortly after the Q Symposium in February to discuss Project Q and the philosophical implication of the quantum conversation.

Listen here:

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‘It seems life really does have a vital spark: quantum mechanics’

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For centuries philosophers have grappled with the question of what makes life, and thanks to the science of quantum mechanics we might just have the answer, writes Q3 panelist Professor Johnjoe McFadden in an op-ed for ABC’s The Drum.

Professor McFadden is a molecular biologist from University of Surrey and will be in attendance at the upcoming third annual Q Symposium in Sydney this February 10-13, 2016. He will be presenting a paper titled ‘Life on the Edge: the new science of quantum biology‘ on the Quantum Mind panel.