REFLECTIONS ON BEING INVITED TO GIVE A LECTURE IN LOS ANGELES, “QUANTUM TECHNOLOGIES AND THE FUTURE”
I was asked to give this lecture twice, once in the morning at a luxury hotel, and once in the afternoon at one of the most prominent Business Clubs.
The audience was an invited one – each participant was a person of some means, there were fewer women than men, involved in fields including technology, manufacturing, real estate, financial services, accountancy, law, and so on.
To my astonishment, hardly anyone was aware of even such ground-breaking announcements (that morning!) of the first-ever Quantum Computer available to purchase for use outside a laboratory, or (many months older) the controversial announcement of Quantum Supremacy by Google, or (still older!) the very first time that a Quantum Computer had been sold.
My greatest surprise was how few people were aware that quantum technologies are already in use – in fact, either they themselves, or someone close to them, had personally experienced the benefit(s) and disadvantage(s) of at least one quantum technology, but were unaware that that was a quantum technology.
The lecture covered also current developments of quantum tech in relation to fields such as: artificial intelligence/ machine learning/ deep learning, computer science, cybersecurity, financial services, chemistry, materials science/ nanotechnology, biochemistry, and life sciences.
I was not entirely surprised, therefore, that hardly anyone had thought about the consequences of quantum technologies for the future of business in general or even for their own field of work, for society as a whole, or for their own descendants or other people in the next generation to whom they were close.
The future of work (i.e. employment) and rather more philosophical questions did come up unprompted as matters for discussion, but the surprising topics that did not come up unprompted were: the future of the middle class, the future of democracy, and the future of civilization.
However, the discussions were rich, and the comments and questions of participants provided me much food for thought.
Thank you to all who participated.