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Quantum Diplomacy for a New Technological Age

by Randolph Mank

December 2017

Executive Summary

Quantum mechanics is a body of science that Albert Einstein, Max Planck, Niels Bohr and others developed in the early decades of the 20th Century. Along with its indisputable technological benefits, it also led to the development of nuclear weapons a few decades later, which has had a profound effect on global security and diplomacy. This threat remains with us today. Another of the offshoots of the 'Quantum Age' - information technology - spawned the internet and, with it, now familiar cyber vulnerabilities. Given this repeated 'promise and peril' pattern - scientific discovery, leading to technological advancement, leading to new threats - it is surprising how little serious discussion has occurred around the diplomatic and security consequences of the latest wave of new technologies. This phase features the emergence and merger of artificial intelligence, nano-technology, robotics and, soon, quantum computing. Already finding their way into modern weapons' systems, controlling the proliferation of these technologies and their misuse is a sleeper issue that will soon demand an entirely new set of diplomatic initiatives, as did the monitoring and control of nuclear weapons. This paper suggests parameters for developing quantum diplomacy to meet the challenges of this new era. Among other things, it suggests the eventual need for an international treaty to control both weaponization and proliferation of these technologies.

Read the full article on the Canadian Global Affairs Institute website.