Predictions can be very difficult, especially about the future.

– Niels Bohr

The ‘Q Symposium: Peace and Security in a Quantum Age’, the first annual conference of the Centre for International Security Studies, will be held20-22 February 2014.

Q starts with the annual Michael Hintze Lecture at the Quadrangle of the University of Sydney on Thursday 20 February at 4 pm. The following morning participants will board a ferry at the Circular Quay for a two-day symposium at the historic Q Station, the former quarantine site at the entry to Sydney Harbour.

Peace and security scholars and experts as well as scientists and humanists, diplomats and soldiers, journalists and filmmakers, risk analysts and risk takers, among others, will gather to address probabilistic as opposed to predictable global events of high consequence, the ‘white swans’ of the Southern Hemisphere.

From a Youtube video of an oil spill to an Instagram of a human rights violation to a Twitter realtime feed of a terrorist bombing to a Wikileak of classified documents, multiple media interventions are transfiguring global politics. Events often phase-shift back and forth in a single news cycle: from states to sub-states, local to global, public to private, organized to chaotic, virtual to real. Complex, volatile, and emergent peace and security issues require new and timely thinking as well as responses.

Q applies new ideas from the natural, social and human sciences to a reconfiguration of global power, emergent peace and security issues and the role of networked global media in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. Q will examine rising powers, emergent actors, financial crises, terrorist attacks, cyberconflicts, pandemics, natural and unnatural disasters as well as white swans. With Sydney universities leading the way in quantum computing and communication, Q will also consider the political, strategic, diplomatic, financial and ethical implications of the moment when quantum shifts from the microphysical and metaphorical to the macrophysical and actual.

Q quarantines the best critical thinkers and innovative practitioners, questions the assumptions of traditional security studies, engages in quality transdisciplinary research, and addresses quantum global events. Next-wave thinking will be reality-checked by philosophical and historical inquiry, field experience and thought experiments, and cinematic imaginaries and dreamtime.