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Reading the road: challenges and opportunities on the path to responsible innovation in quantum computing

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Journal Article

Ten Holter, C, Philip Inglesant, and Marina Jirotka. 2021. “Reading the Road: Challenges and Opportunities on the Path to Responsible Innovation in Quantum Computing.” Technology Analysis & Strategic Management 0 (0): 1–13.

Novel technologies such as quantum computing present new opportunities to support societal needs, but societal engagement is vital to secure public trust. Quantum computing technologies are at a pivotal point in their journey from foundational research to deployment, creating a moment for society to investigate, reflect, and consult on their implications. Responsible Innovation (RI) is one method for considering impacts, engaging with societal needs, reflecting on any concerns, and influencing the trajectory of the innovation in response. This paper draws on the empirical work of the RI team embedded in the Networked Quantum Information Technologies Hub. The team investigated researchers’ perceptions of RI and their understanding of societal impacts of quantum technologies, and sought to gauge the challenges of embedding RI across a multi-disciplinary, large-scale enterprise such as the UK quantum programme. The work demonstrated some of the difficulties involved in embedding RI approaches, and in creating a dialogue between innovators and societies. Finally, the authors offer recommendations to policymakers, researchers, and industrial organisations, for better practice in responsible quantum computing, and to ensure that societal considerations are discussed alongside commercial motivations. Applying RI to quantum computing at this pivotal point has implications for RI in other emerging technologies.

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