The quantum ‘what’ begs questions of beginnings, scale, levels of analysis and boundaries of disciplinary knowledge. The early thought-experiments of quantum mechanics introduced new principles of wave-particle duality, uncertainty and entanglement to explain how the microphysical world works. Laboratory validations and practical applications soon followed, including many of the technological markers of modernity, like thermonuclear weapons, computers, transistors, lasers, LEDs and mobile phones.
More recently, quantum has been applied across multiple levels: at the macrophysical, to posit new explanations for photosynthesis, bird migration, and most controversially, human and artificial intelligence; at the cosmological, to pose the origin – and possible end – of not just one but many universes; and at the metaphysical, to consider the philosophical and ethical implications of quantum science.
Attaching quantum to phenomena beyond the sub-atomic and outside the realm of physics can provoke skepticism and even hostility. However, quantum has from its origins raised serious philosophical and political questions as well as generated micro-, macro- and meta-physical implications for peace and security. Rather than wait for the possible to become real (see nuclear fission, circa 1939), QC3I stages a critical inquiry into the strategic and societal consequences of quantum innovation.
QC3I appropriates the strategic concept of C3I (Computing, Communication, Control and Intelligence) to speculate on how quantum computing will transform peace and security in the 21st century. The goal is to quarantine critical thinkers and innovative practitioners who will question the classical assumptions of the social, natural and physical sciences through the insights and innovations of quantum theory.
Moderated by James Der Derian, USYD/CISS
• Theo Farrell, University of Wollongong
• Hugh Gusterson, George Washington University
• Allison Macfarlane, George Washington University
• Daniel Nexon, Georgetown University
• Glenda Sluga, USYD/History
Supported by Project Q and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.