Although they may not transform information technology as a whole yet, it seems that quantum computers are already detangling nature’s mysteries, according to Wired. The speakers of their ‘Quantum Pulse’ event explained simply the secret of quantum principles, namely superposition, entanglement and interference, notably Strangeworks, which aim at making this disruptive field accessible to everyone. Oxford Quantum Circuits, the European challenger to the most known superconducting qubits developed by Google and IBM, and Riverlane, its Operating System partner, have also introduced more ways to build those logical quantum bits (trapped ion, spin, cold atom or photon) among the UK quantum ecosystem.
A decade ago, I was fascinated by the disruptive potential of the quantum cyber-communication solution developed by SeQureNet; it may have been too early since the startup has failed. Recent online events dedicated to quantum were a great opportunity to catch up with the new European quantum Tech rising stars members of the DeepTech cluster Systematic Paris Region. I have also realised that UK companies are now partnering with the French ICT leaders to develop quantum networks based on the quantum key distribution (QKD) for cryptography. Another promising application is the development of quantum sensors to improve measurements with a new European leader in photonics and quantum technologies.
During this new decade, the tech giants have to compete with startups that are building quantum computing solutions to solve complex simulation and optimisation problems applied to pharmaceuticals, finance or energy. In this way, Pasqal is deploying quantum processors on-demand above 100 qubits and towards the 1000 qubits threshold, which allow testing concrete use cases in partnership with quantum companies and multinational end-users. The European information technology industry is also preparing for a quantum future, building the next generation of cryptography and electronics thanks to collaborative projects and leveraging ESA’s agenda 2025 to deploy quantum communication in space.
In addition to Wired’s content, French speakers can listen to the podcast Decode quantum to learn more about the discoveries of the 3 quantum gurus who have understood the power of entanglement almost 40 years ago. Since their initial experiments, 3 French Nobel laureates have accelerated the second quantum revolution, which may one day create bio-inspired artificial intelligence based on quantum cognition and neuromorphic computing.
Events switched to a virtual experience during this global crisis triggered by the Covid-19, CogX organised in June 2020 from London was no exception. CreaTech Festival gathered forces to bring Creative Industries together with CogX Festival of AI and Emerging Technology that covered 17 other topics from HealthTech to Smart Cities, FinTech to Blockchain, EdTech to Industries 4.0.
CogX Festival supplements CreaTech Festival among the London Tech scene but competes with the Paris-based VivaTech cancelled this year. I mentioned both events at their inception in previous articles about the emergence of CreaTech Hubs and the move from French Tech to Crea Tech. In my view, CogX brought Tech event organisation to another level aiming at designing a Mindful Tech Xperience for a better future society.
In line with my previous articles, I envision CreaTech as a starting point for creativity & innovation to connect different fields instead of predefined creative sectors such as FashionTech or Digital Media. Furthermore, the CogX Festival also raised long view issues related to ethics & society highlighting current trends in AI from fundamental research to cutting edge technologies, or the so-called DeepTech, to foresee different applications for our future of work and education. CognitionX is building a knowledge-sharing platform and has launched a series of virtual weekly events CogXtra to ensure a responsible transition to an AI-driven society for the next 10 years.
The 2nd CogXtra event addressed the question of The Tech We Want that sounds even more important in a world in crisis. The main challenge is to empower citizens, as explained in a fireside chat with Taiwan’s Digital Minister Audrey Tang, who showcased how CivicTech could help to beat the pandemic and fight against misinformation.
Ultimately, we should ensure AI & data works for people and society thanks to independent organisations like Ada Lovelace Institute, the co-curator of this CogXtra. We need to deal with several issues behind the design of global AI superpowers racing to create an Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), listening to Ben Goertzel, who believes in the decentralisation of such global intelligence.
I recommend you to watch the panel “How Autonomy Fosters General Intelligence in Robots” from CogX 2020 to understand ethical issues raised by Sam Williams who challenged Ben Goertzel about the risk of losing control in a decentralised network. In contrast, Ben reminds us of the risk of global powers led by totalitarian regimes controlling an AGI that may happen sooner than we think in his point of view.
Finance and Technology are interlinked and evolve together in the perspective of the Evolution of Fintech. The last paradigm emerged in 2008 following the financial crisis based on the widespread use of information technology and the need for regulatory innovation. The same year, a paper titled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System was published by the unknown Satoshi Nakamoto, who created the well-known cryptocurrency, one of the first use cases of blockchain technology. One may wonder if this paradigm shift is an incremental evolution of Fintech or a more disruptive revolution similar to nuclear power or electricity.
If we look at some ethical considerations, blockchain gives rise to several issues in terms of security, privacy, efficiency and the integrity of the system itself, and the risk of crime and oppressive conduct that a mediating institution would otherwise offset. Those issues are only the emerged part of the iceberg of blockchain ethics which is a broader quest to redefine the value of our society since blockchain technology is changing the nature of money and organisations. In this way, we shouldn’t only consider the risks brought by the technology and the opportunity of blockchain for good based on evolved moral principles.
Fintech and blockchain are paradigm shifts in our society, with other technologies that include artificial intelligence and big data. Alone this paradigm is an evolution of Fintech. But combined with AI and cybernetics, this paradigm shift is a cognitive revolution that may either decentralise the power of monopolies or control the decentralised power of people. That’s why blockchain ethics should examine what the technology can do and ponder the potential consequences like the control of nuclear power that led to the atomic bomb or the electricity that led to the electric chair for the death penalty.
This article is part of the Ethics of Fintech & Blockchain series with the 5 key principles of digital currencies and cryptocurrencies and Are Digital Currencies the new Technological Power?