Responsible research and innovation (RRI) in quantum technology

Ethics and Information Technology 19 (4):277-294 (2017)
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Abstract

We are currently witnessing the emergence of a discourse on responsible research and innovation in the field of quantum technology. Working on the assumption that the initial stage of discourse is of particular importance with regard to the ascription of meaning to an emerging field, our point of departure is a small corpus of prominent policy-oriented reports on quantum technology recently published in Europe. With a view to these publications, the article analyses various approaches to RRI and discusses lessons learned in nanotechnology discourse as these may impact on emerging discourse on quantum technology and its stance towards RRI. On the basis of our analyses, we outline a strategy for fostering RRI in this promising field of science and technology. We propose implementing a “strong” RRI approach which entails linking parliamentary or other core policy processes to stakeholder dialogues, decision-supporting public engagement and a wide variety of other public communication activities. At the same time, taking our cue from lessons learned in nanotechnology discourse, we argue that a strong RRI approach to quantum technology should be modest and focused in terms of thematic and societal scope.

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