Prelude to Q3CI

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As a primer for Q3CI – 2018’s Q symposium – panelists from Our public forum were invited to appear on Australia’s public broadcaster, the ABC.

  • Firstly, two of our panelists, Sydney University Scientist Michael Biercuk & George Washington University and Obama advisor Alison MacFarlane joined Q’s director James Der Derian on A Matter of Facton the eve of our public forum to discuss drones, AI and the future of Quantum. Points were raise about the democratisation of quantum computing, and how open and collaborative public research would be if there was a breakthrough in terms of a military or security application of the technology. A recording of the broadcast is available here.
  • Q director James Der Derian also appeared on ABC Radio’s Breakfast program, discussing quantum supremacy, and what that means for the future of artificial intelligence, science, war and peace. We shall post a link here when available.
  • Will Quantum even happen? There is debate within the scientific community about the ability for quantum computing to ever be practically implemented beyond tech-demos. While we’ve seen in the flesh functioning 50-qubit chips perform in environments built for demonstration, their usage in practical terms outside heavily controlled conditions of these spaces, applied to real-world tasks is exposed to significant hurdles. Israeli mathematician Gil Kalai argues while we will never see a true quantum computer in this article hosted by Quanta Magazine here. A
  • Lastly, our public forum “STRANGE PHYSICS: OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB, DRONES, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND QUANTUM COMPUTERS” is being held tonight at the University of Sydney which we will be live tweeting under the hashtag #q3ci. Tickets for those in Sydney will be available here – https://t.co/Batb0vPGl4
  • A last minute update: an article on ‘Nature’ About efforts to build a quantum internet driven by Stephanie Werner similar to the classical internet precursor. The project, to be installed in four Dutch cities should be completed in 2020.

The Quantum AI Revolution.

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Some 200 years ago, the Industrial Revolution drove workers from farms to factories, and created the grand cities of the world, fuelled by the fires of industry.

The monumental shift generated by quantum will be the same, with complex AI programs able to take over many of the jobs which employ many of us today. Once the substance of sci-fi series, the field has seen rapid development in recent years, much of the progress happening in the background; great leaps and strides, occurring with little fanfare in the media or political discourse; being blurred together with the growth of smart devices and AI systems.

Indeed many of us are happy with our new AI pals; software like Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant and others are rapidly becoming part of people’s everyday routines. Smart devices and other ‘Internet-of-Things’ are becoming ubiquitous wherever we go. As powerful as these services may seem to the end-user in the street, they are still constrained by the limitations of processing power available. Of course the power in our phones and IoTs are nothing to compared to those that the quantum future will bring. Commentators have been shocked at the rate of development in the quantum field, just a few years ago the talk was quantum as a couple of decades way – at best; yet as of last year, multiple manufacturers have shown off functioning 50 qubit chips. While the practical applications of these chips are limited – mostly to weather modelling – they do show the viability of having a chip available for some commercial tasks in the near future.


A qubit short for quantum-bit, differ from that of a ‘classic’ computer chip. Whereas a classic chip is limited to returning a 1 or a 0 for each calculation, a qubit can exist in three states, 1, 0 or 1 & 0. This escalation of states vastly improves the rate in which calculations are made, and opens the door to new and potentially disruptive applications by exponentially increasing computing power.

So why is this important? As Friedman discusses in his recent New York Times op-ed; Quantum computing will open up the ability to process larger amounts of information, faster; revolutionising the way that we interface with artificial intelligence in our daily lives. Existing ‘unsolvable problems’ for classic computers, could with quantum assistance, see solutions in minutes, or even seconds. Experts predict that soon, many jobs will disappear fully to AI; trains, trucks and taxis are likely the first to be automated with the explosive growth of driverless or autonomous vehicles. Here in Australia, the same questions are being asked about other fields of work, what will end up automated in the near future?

While we aren’t there yet, the technology that quantum heralds will quickly be able to create AIs which can do most “routine and repetitive tasks”. This, as Friedman highlights, raises concerns about numerous economies’ middle classes reliant on this type of work for their livelihoods.  But also more worryingly, the same technologies will invalidate exist methods which we use to secure all our data. The same dramatically increased processing power can also be applied to breaking the encryption of our health records, bank accounts, and personal devices. This goes without saying the threat that quantum poses to state-secrets, and the vast troves of data that are held by governments, ripe for the taking if our ability to secure is taken away. With quantum automative AI, Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics – namely a Robot may not allow a human to come to harm – may no longer be a thing of fiction; rather a required tool in the near-future.

The issue of about quantum and artificial intelligence will be the subject of the Q Forum at 6pm, February 15 2018 at the General Lecture Theatre, University of Sydney, which kicks off the the fourth annual Q Symposium, ‘QC3I’:  Quantum Computing, Communication, Control and Intelligence.

All, Project Q

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. (more…)


Watch the final roundtable event from Q3 Symposium on peace and security in a quantum age

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The final roundtable from the third annual Q Symposium held on February 11-13 this year is now available online. View the full recording below.

The roundtable wraps up the conference and features a discussion panel of Professors Azar Gat (Tel Aviv University), Karen O’Brien (University of Oslo), Christian Reus-Smit (University of Queensland), Assistant Professor Taylor Owen (University of British Columbia), Stephen Del Rosso (Carnegie Corporation) and Professor James Der Derian (University of Sydney).

Q Research, Q3

The University of Sydney launches world-leading nanoscience institute

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This week, the University of Sydney launches the Australian Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology (AINST), which aims to bring together the best researchers and research facilities to discover and harness new science at the nanoscale, including quantum science, to address some of society’s biggest challenges.

The Sydney Nanoscience Hub will be the new headquarters for AINST, and is among the most advanced facilities for measurement and experimental device fabrication in the world.

The Hub will be home to several different projects including the Quantum Control Lab lead by Associate Professor Michael Biercuk who was a Q3 Symposium participant on the Quantum Moment panel last February. Michael has also been involved in the public media discussing his team’s work in quantum innovation recently on ABC’s Q&A program. Professor David Reilly who leads the Quantum Nanoscience Lab research project at the Hub was also a participant at the first Q1 Symposium in 2014.

This week, AINST will be holding several different events as it officially launches, which included a free public talk by Professor Joanna Aizenberg from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard titled ‘Slippery Surfaces: how nanoscience is changing our material world‘.

A two-day Scientific Meeting will follow from Wednesday to find out the latest developments in nanoscale science and technology from eminent scientists from around the world, including research leaders from the institute. Professor Charles M. Marcus from the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark will be presenting a seminar ‘From the Atom to the Computer and Back Again – A 100 Year Round Trip‘ on the development of semiconductor-based computing technology and quantum mechanics. Registrations for the meeting are still open and can be done via AINST’s website.

Photo: Australian Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology

Q Research

New research in photon technology may hold the key to unhackable communication

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A research team from the University of Sydney’s School of Physics have recently made a breakthrough in how to generate single photons or light particles as carriers of quantum information in security systems.

Professor Benjamin Eggleton, Director of the Centre for Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS), leads the research team in a collaborative effort between the School of Physics and the School of Electrical and Information Engineering in utilising quantum communication and computing to revolutionise the ability to exchange data securely.

“The ability to generate single photons, which form the backbone of technology used in laptops and the internet, will drive the development of local secure communications systems – for safeguarding defence and intelligence networks, the financial security of corporations and governments and bolstering personal electronic privacy, like shopping online,” Eggleton says.

The team are currently exploring real-world applications of this new technology.

Project Q, Q Research

Alexander Wendt’s animated lecture on ‘Quantum Mind and Social Sciences’ goes live


Last June, the Project Q team travelled to Ann Arbor Michigan to talk with Professor Alexander Wendt from Ohio State University about his bold new book ‘Quantum Mind and Social Science’. The team produced a short video interview as well a short exegesis of the book by Wendt. The final presentation, an animated video lecture by Wendt, encourages us to venture out of our disciplinary silos to consider the importance of quantum physics for the social sciences.

Watch the video below for the final version of Alexander Wendt’s animated video lecture on ‘Quantum Mind and Social Science’:

All, Project Q, Q3

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.