Diversity imperative in the emerging field of quantum computing

Friday, 09 April 2021

Cathy Foley recording a message for a Diversity in Quantum Computing Conference.

With quantum technologies set to offer huge potential for Australia, Australia’s Chief Scientist, Cathy Foley, has stressed the importance of diversity in the research and development of the technology.

In her previous role as CSIRO Chief Scientist, Dr Foley led the development of a quantum roadmap, Growing Australia’s Quantum Technology Industry.

The roadmap notes Australia’s expertise in quantum research and its emerging quantum industry. It estimates that with the right approach, the industry could generate more than $4 billion in revenue and create 16,000 new jobs over two decades.

Dr Foley sent a message of support to an international Diversity in Quantum Computing Conference last month where she said a diverse workforce would lead to diverse solutions. This applies as researchers investigate solutions to the significant research problems that remain before quantum computing can be fully realised. It also applies to the eventual commercialisation of the technology.

Quantum technologies are expected to bring benefits for a range of industries, from precision measurement, to cybersecurity and medicine.

Quantum computing will transform the search for drugs with the capacity to search the immense zoo of potential molecules. It will speed the development of drugs through the capacity to simulate their interactions virtually.

Quantum computing will bring new capability in complex tasks such as aerofoil design and climate prediction.

Quantum sensors will be used in deep and complex earth mapping, and in medical sensing for early disease detection. Quantum timing devices will unlock new discoveries in space, and allow ultra-accurate navigation.

Dr Foley added that the full potential of quantum technologies will not be realised unless it is developed in a way that recognises the diversity of the human experience.

In her video message to the Qubit by Qubit conference, Dr Foley urged participants in the quantum research community to seek out diversity from the ground up, by ensuring their conferences, events and teams include contributors from a range of backgrounds.

The conference, designed for students and professionals, included speakers from the academic, scientific and commercial arenas in the United States. It recognises the need to act fast to ensure diversity in a growing field.

Last updated: Tuesday, 13 April 2021