The University of Sydney and Q Station
15 – 17 February 2018

The quantum ‘what’ begs questions of beginnings, scale, levels of analysis and boundaries of disciplinary knowledge. The early thought-experiments of quantum mechanics introduced new principles of wave-particle duality, uncertainty and entanglement to explain how the microphysical world works. Laboratory validations and practical applications soon followed, including many of the technological markers of modernity, like thermonuclear weapons, computers, transistors, lasers, LEDs and mobile phones. More recently, quantum has been applied across multiple levels: at the macrophysical, to posit new explanations for photosynthesis, bird migration, and most controversially, human and artificial intelligence; at the cosmological, to pose the origin – and possible end – of not just one but many universes; and at the metaphysical, to consider the philosophical and ethical implications of quantum science.

Attaching quantum to phenomena beyond the sub-atomic and outside the realm of physics can provoke skepticism and even hostility. However, quantum has from its origins raised serious philosophical and political questions as well as generated micro-, macro- and meta-physical implications for peace and security. Rather than wait for the possible to become real (see nuclear fission, circa 1939), QC3I stages a critical inquiry into the strategic and societal consequences of quantum innovation.


Thursday, 15 February

The Q Forum

‘Strange Physics:  Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb, drones, artificial intelligence and quantum computers’

Welcome:  Gaby Ramia, USYD/SSPS

Moderator: James Der Derian, USYD/CISS


  • Michael Biercuk, USYD/Quantum Physics/Q-Ctrl
  • Hugh Gusterson, George Washington University/Anthropology
  • Allison Macfarlane, George Washington University/International Science and Technology Policy
  • Toby Walsh, UNSW/Computer Science and Engineering

Friday, 16 February

Panel 1 – The Quantum Now: Hardware, Software and Wetware

Moderator: James Der Derian, USYD/CISS


Panel 2 – Quantum Computing: Y2Q, Y2K or HAL?

Moderator: Frank Smith, USYD/CISS


Documentary Film Screening

‘Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World’ directed by Werner Herzog

Saturday, 17 February

Panel 3 – Quantum Control: Of What by Whom and How?

Moderator:  Peter Hayes/CISS/Nautilus


Panel 4 – Quantum Communication: Alice, Bob and Micius

Moderator:  Colin Wight, USYD/CISS


Panel 5 – Quantum Intelligence: Plant, Animal and Machine

Moderator: Jairus Grove, University of Hawaii


  • Peter Bruza, Queensland University of Technology
  • Elsa Kania, Center for a New American Security
  • Ivan Kassal, USYD/Chemistry

Panel 6 – Peace and Security in a Quantum Age

Moderator: James Der Derian, USYD/CISS


  • Theo Farrell, University of Wollongong
  • Hugh Gusterson, George Washington University
  • Allison Macfarlane, George Washington University
  • Daniel Nexon, Georgetown University
  • Glenda Sluga, USYD/History