The quantum computing sector needs to cut the hype and focus on responsible development

Quantum computing concept image showing CPU and computing chip on a circuit board.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The future success of the quantum computing sector will be heavily dependent on responsible development, cross-sector collaboration, and government oversight, according to a new whitepaper from EY and the University of Oxford. 

As part of the study, the team carried out a survey of technologists, researchers, and policymakers to explore their attitudes towards emerging technologies, the threats and opportunities these could bring, and the role of governance and government participation in technological innovation.

Half agreed that there's value in generating societal excitement about emerging technologies to raise capital, for example, but 84% also believe that claims made around such technologies are often overblown or exaggerated in popular discourse.

"The whitepaper’s findings indicate that counteracting misleading information and engaging in responsible science communication are key dimensions of practicing responsible innovation in relation to quantum computing," said Mira Pijselman, digital ethics lead at EY.

"We have already seen concerns with underperforming products, loss of public trust, and active societal harms in technology spaces adjacent to quantum computing – such as artificial intelligence – where hype may be used to propel interests and narratives that are not always aligned with public good."

The answer, researchers said, is to adopt a long-term view, based on different disciplinary outlooks, lived experiences and world views - and this means strong collaboration between academia, the private sector and government as the commercialization of quantum computing progresses.

Respondents supported this collaborative approach, with 76% agreeing that it’s important to involve many different groups, including policymakers and advisers, in the development of new technologies.

More than nine-in-ten also agreed that the government should be involved in funding the development of new technologies to ensure an inclusive and collaborative environment that benefits the entire ecosystem.

"Our research reinforces the importance of bringing socio-technical talent into development communities. This is essentially about working collaboratively with a whole range of stakeholders when developing new technologies," Pijselman said.

"While deep technical knowledge is crucial, particularly with quantum computing, we also need individuals with legal, commercial, and ethical skillsets to effectively engage in technology foresight and eventually, enable governance."

Concerns mentioned by the survey respondents included worries that the rush to develop new technologies could outpace our understanding of the potential risks and societal implications, with more than three-quarters agreeing.


Six-in-ten thought it was a bad idea to leave novel technological development in the hands of private companies alone - although a similar proportion thought it shouldn't be left in the hands of researchers and developers either.

But there was a very high level of agreement — over 90% — that governments should be involved in the funding of novel technologies, and more than eight-in-ten thought there should be regulation.

"Through more meaningful dialogue and collaboration across the quantum ecosystem, we can shape the trajectory of quantum computing to enable, not only commercial scalability, but also sustainability for present and future generations," Pijselman said

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance journalist writing for publications including the BBC, Private Eye, Forbes, Raconteur and specialist technology titles.