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IQT’s “Journal Club:” Why Businesses Need to Ethically Adopt Quantum AI Technology

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By Kenna Hughes-Castleberry posted 05 Jan 2024

IQT’s “Journal Club” is a weekly article series that breaks down a recent quantum technology research paper and discusses its impacts on the quantum ecosystem. This article focuses on a recent arxiv paper looking at the ethics of quantum AI technology adoption by businesses. 

The rapid advancement in Artificial Intelligence (AI), reminiscent of the “iPhone moment,” signifies a profound shift in technology adoption and application, a recent arxiv paper written by Christian Hugo Hoffmann (of the Centre for Ethics of the University of Zurich), and Frederik F. Flöther (of QuantumBasel in Switzerland) highlights. Quantum Computing is predicted to follow a similar trajectory. This fusion of AI and Quantum Computing, often termed “quantum AI,” is a technological milestone and a significant ethical and strategic concern for business leaders and practitioners.

The Ethical Dimensions of Quantum AI

As an emerging field, Quantum AI brings a complex array of ethical considerations. The essence of ethics in technology is to foster benefits while preventing harm. For example, democratizing powerful technologies can catalyze scientific discoveries that benefit all. At the same time, Hoffman and Flöther emphasize that we must simultaneously guard against the pitfalls of biased algorithms that could lead to discriminatory practices. Despite the critical nature of these issues, there remains a gap in awareness and specific action plans regarding AI and quantum technology ethics in many organizations.

Responsibility and Impact

Quantum AI’s transformative potential extends across various sectors, from healthcare to transportation. This transformation leads to what Hoffman and Flöther call “responsibility gaps.” As AI systems increasingly take over roles traditionally filled by humans, such as medical diagnosis, addressing the shifting landscape of responsibility and accountability becomes imperative. The role of human professionals, such as doctors, is evolving, posing ethical questions about their involvement and the limits of AI’s decision-making capabilities.

Work, Meaning, and Quantum AI

The emergence of quantum AI also profoundly impacts the relationship between work and meaning, as Hoffman and Flöther highlight. The technology’s potential to replace or radically alter jobs brings to the forefront the need for skill development and adaptation. Business leaders face the challenge of redefining the meaning-work relationship in an environment increasingly influenced by quantum AI, making this endeavor inherently ethical.

Ethical Strategies for Business Leaders

Hoffman and Flöther argue that businesses need to cultivate an environment that balances technological advancement with ethical considerations. This includes fostering a culture of awareness regarding the long-term impact of quantum AI and promoting sustainable work-life practices. Developing a vision for human-machine collaboration is crucial, where employees engage in meaningful work augmented by AI, shifting away from mundane tasks.

Closing the responsibility gaps is another vital strategy. Forming teams that include both humans and AI systems can effectively distribute responsibilities, ensuring that while AI can provide answers, humans remain the key players in aspects like accountability and liability.

Kenna Hughes-Castleberry is the Managing Editor at Inside Quantum Technology and the Science Communicator at JILA (a partnership between the University of Colorado Boulder and NIST). Her writing beats include deep tech, quantum computing, and AI. Her work has been featured in Scientific American, Discover Magazine, New Scientist, Ars Technica, and more. 

Categories: quantum computing, research

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