Democratization of quantum technologies

Quantum Science and Technology 8:024005 (2023)
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As quantum technologies (QT) advance, their potential impact on and relation with society has been developing into an important issue for exploration. In this paper, we investigate the topic of democratization in the context of QT, particularly quantum computing. The paper contains three main sections. First, we briefly introduce different theories of democracy (participatory, representative, and deliberative) and how the concept of democratization can be formulated with respect to whether democracy is taken as an intrinsic or instrumental value. Second, we give an overview of how the concept of democratization is used in the QT field. Democratization is mainly adopted by companies working on quantum computing and used in a very narrow understanding of the concept. Third, we explore various narratives and counter-narratives concerning democratization in QT. Finally, we explore the general efforts of democratization in QT such as different forms of access, formation of grassroot communities and special interest groups, the emerging culture of manifesto writing, and how these can be located within the different theories of democracy. In conclusion, we argue that although the ongoing efforts in the democratization of QT are necessary steps towards the democratization of this set of emerging technologies, they should not be accepted as sufficient to argue that QT is a democratized field. We argue that more reflexivity and responsiveness regarding the narratives and actions adopted by the actors in the QT field and making the underlying assumptions of ongoing efforts on democratization of QT explicit, can result in a better technology for society.

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