Day 2: World Café - Quantum Initiatives from all over the World

The World Café Session of the Transatlantic Quantum Forum started off with an introduction of different international quantum initiatives. Although these initiatives range from being of academic nature to citizen inclusivity programs, they all have one common denominator: making quantum technology and its connected future challenges more accessible and digestible to a wider, more diverse audience. Resulting from the initial introductions, synergies could be found among the initiatives which later led to the mention of “a network of networks.” This idea means that different initiatives could jointly form a wider engagement platform, stretching across borders and audiences to collectively work on quantum research communication.

Following the introductions, the World Café Sessions kicked off. These sessions included the different stakeholders, consisting of our students, academia, and members of the public sector, brainstorming and exchanging ideas. Discussions were guided by a set of questions, such as “how do we interact and engage in shaping the collaboration and understanding and how do we ensure diversity and multi-disciplinarity in our networks?” and “how can we enhance societal readiness for quantum technology through quantum science communication? Which groups in society need or expect which types of outreach work?”

These fruitful conversations rendered interesting impulses such as the potential need for tech-embassies. However, the guiding questions often led to even more questions being asked. For example, who should have access to these types of technologies (e.g. Quantum Computers) and which staff in the industry should be trained for becoming an educator in quantum technology, given its large societal future impact?

What almost all groups were able to agree on was the growing importance of interdisciplinary studies and skill sets with the development of innovation technologies and their effects becoming increasingly sensible to many aspects of everyday life. There is a pressing need for multiple disciplines to engage in debates on e.g. quantum technologies and a possible solution could be more people receiving interdisciplinary training. Additionally, most groups found that it is essential to engage students from different academic backgrounds in a joint debate.

Another key argument of the debates revolved around the responsibility of scientists researching quantum technologies. It was mentioned that scientists should be educated in a “socially responsible way”, leading to the question of how such a “way” could be defined and what normativity this would entail. Moreover, the obligation was placed on scientists to communicate their findings in a comprehensible way and adapt their vocabulary to their audience. Finally, educational aspects for getting a step closer to “tech readiness” for quantum were mentioned. Several groups and stakeholders highlighted the idea of gamification approaches as a way to engage younger audiences.  

Overall, the World Café allowed for a first glimpse on the work ahead for achieving a more “interdisciplinary and community sensitive” science communication of quantum and for allowing interdisciplinary scholarship to grow in the still rather walled field of “hard sciences.”