The Ethics of Quantum AI – What You Need to Know

There are several reasons why it’s important to consider the ethical implications of quantum AI right now. It’s likely that without a top-down mandate for responsible development, technologists will create technologies with unintended, ethically fraught consequences.

Experts from various fields have created governance and core values themes that could direct the use of quantum computing. But how far-reaching will these policies be?

What Are the Ethics of Quantum AI?

Whether expediting drug discovery, fighting climate change or optimising supply chains, quantum technologies will present new opportunities. They will also aggravate existing business challenges and raise complex ethical questions.

Ethical AI policies must be established as part of an organisation’s long-term strategy and road map, rather than a reactive response to specific incidents. Otherwise, companies risk “ethics washing” — where genuine action is replaced by hollow promises.

To prevent this, business leaders should work with their technology teams to establish a framework for Responsible Quantum Tech (RQT), which seeks to proactively steward quantum research and development toward equitable outcomes and mitigate risks. This requires a multidisciplinary approach to R&D, including anticipation, inclusivity, and reflection. It must also be grounded in robust governance policies and processes, such as those for cybersecurity, data, and AI.

What Are the Ethics of Quantum Computing?

Like any other major technological advance, quantum computing is expected to bring with it a host of ethical questions. From cyber-hacking and spooky robots to the centralization of wealth in economies already plagued by income inequality, quantum computing has the potential to raise many concerns for the public.

To ensure that the benefits of quantum technology are distributed fairly, companies should build ethics into their research and development process. Introducing ethics early can help establish informed consumer trust, provide more holistic oversight over current and future risks, and create a technological framework that aligns with societal needs and values.

Focused projects and initiatives in academia and civil society organisations can also play a role in shaping global as well as contextualised discourses on quantum ethics. These can be modeled on existing platforms that have been established for emerging technologies such as AI.

What Are the Ethics of Quantum Medicine?

A lot of the talk around quantum AI focuses on the risks, such as job displacement, cybersecurity risks, loss of privacy and civil liberties and a growing inequality between those who can afford technology (including human augmentation) and those who cannot. These are all real concerns, but it’s important to remember that good intentions can have unintended consequences – as proven by the many ethical problems associated with machine learning and other emerging technologies.

Business leaders need to prepare now to face the challenges of quantum technologies, establishing robust ethical governance capabilities before they are unleashed on their organisations. Otherwise, they risk being caught flatfooted like their technology peers with AI, which accelerated with little thought to its intended and unintended impacts on people and businesses.

What Are the Ethics of Quantum Robotics?

As with any technology, quantum AI could be used for good or bad. For example, it could superpower AI, worsening its negative effects, or algorithms based on quantum computing could help financial firms game the market, increasing income inequality.

It’s important for business and technology leaders to establish quantum ethics. This can be done by focusing on key questions and embracing an ethics-first mindset. It can also be done by acquiring more holistic oversight over current risks and developing technology that aligns with societal values and needs.

For example, if a car is driving at full speed towards a grandmother and child, the driver may make a moral decision to shift the risk away from one person by slamming on the brakes. This is a type of problem that would be hard to solve with an explainable AI system.

What Are the Ethics of Quantum Artificial Intelligence?

The ethical implications of AI are a well-documented area of discussion. From Amazon’s sexist AI recruiting tool to Tesla’s driverless car crash, the potential pitfalls of poorly executed AI have made headlines around the world.

Quantum computing can be used in conjunction with machine learning algorithms to get results that would otherwise be impossible with conventional computers due to quantum phenomena such as superposition, tunneling and entanglement. These phenomena will have a significant impact on the outcomes of AI, and thus meta-ethics will need to be developed that align with this unique science.

Business leaders must prepare for this change by developing a culture of ethical risk assessment that is proportional to quantum disruption. This means ensuring that existing cyber, data and AI governance capabilities are expanded to include quantum technology.

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