NETWORKING EVENT: ENTANGLEMENT ONGOING
ARS ELECTRONICA 2019
8 SEPTEMBER 2019
NEW PATHWAYS IN COMMUNICATING QUANTUM TECHNOLOGY
by Bianka Hofmann
8 SEPTEMBER 2019
We need spaces to negotiate scientific developments to spark the conversation about how we use new technologies and create a society and a future according to our values. The Ars Electronica is such a space. Also, in Germany, a lot has been invested in the last 20 years in explaining science. Science communication has extended its mission: to make R&D understandable to the public, to interact with society's stakeholders, to inspire young people to study a STEM discipline and to make the purpose of public funds transparent.
However, to negotiate science to achieve real understanding and advance and benefit society requires rethinking the formats scientists, researchers, and developers use to interact with the public and the media. This year's festival theme Out of the Box – The Midlife Crisis of the Digital Revolution fits very well to the crisis in science and tech communication and the increasing coverage of major tech scandals, which fueled the distrust in R&D. Topics, such as transparency, participation, and co-creation, are vital issues.
In many disruptive fields, the private sector has created reality, and the social and political discourse is barely catching up. The impacts of social media, or the developments in AI, for instance, driven by the private sector, have led to new societal challenges that are negotiated when already established. Classical academic institutions have lost their former unique status in the generation, dissemination, and preservation of scientific knowledge. Emerging theoretical knowledge and the development of new technological applications are now distributed across corporations and start-ups. The call for taking companies to task for the social implications of their technologies and services is getting louder. However, Academia is also astonishingly reluctant, to cooperate beyond different disciplines and to negotiate the impacts of new developments with the public and society.
Even though the ethical and practical relevance of "guidelines" for science communication, developed in 2016 by a supra-institutional working group in Germany, were undisputed, the German Rectors' Conference (HRK), and the German Research Foundation did not recommend them to the universities as an orientation aid, as Jens Rehländer describes in an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper from May this year (1). It was stated that the guidelines would "make statements that go far beyond the topic of communication," such as "transparency" and "good scientific practice." It was declared that these are not related to science communication. Given that public science is oriented towards the common good, this is hard to understand. Besides communication training for scientists and explaining and mediating scientific results, we need to address the integration of the public based on self-reflection of researchers and developers in science and business as well as the responsibility for the results as an individual in Academia and industry.
To communicate Quantum Technology, we face additional unique challenges: Digital technologies rule today's world, driven by zeros and ones but it is composed of quanta, the smallest physical units, the quantum, as the carrier of all physical interactions. The exploration of Quantum Technology lies on the boundary between challenging subdisciplines from physics, engineering, and informatics. Researchers communicate the counterintuitive observations and experimental results in quantum mechanics using mathematical language. This has implications for teaching and understanding: currently, quantum physics is taught from a theoretical viewpoint, with a mathematical approach. To establish foundations for understanding quantum technologies it is essential "to develop concepts for a more intuitive approach, (…), and allow a(n) (…) even playful approach to quantum physics," according to a specialized publication of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Germany in 2018. (2)
Artists and designers create their own languages and metaphors to explore, to discover, and face even the contradictions in human communication and existence. Does thinking occur in images, abstract symbols according to mathematical logic or words? Is imagery fundamental in thinking or have mental images no causal role in thought processes? Is it accurate to think of the mind as a symbol-manipulating machine? Quantum Logos aims to ease access to the counterintuitive phenomena of quantum reality. They all underlie the universe’s natural structures, from the waves of inanimate matter to the vivid systemic photosynthesis in plants to the human brain and consciousness, which seem to produce the results of quantum physical measurements. Can we explores the basics of quantum theory as expressed through cultural archetypes within an immersive, reactive audio-visual experience?
1 Das unterschätzte Gespräch mit Politik und Gesellschaft, Jens Rehländer, in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung für Deutschland , 16.05.2019.
2 Quantum technologies – from basic research to market, A federal Government Framework Program, Specialized Publication of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, September 2018.
Science Producer, Project Developer
"Artists and designers create their own languages and metaphors to explore, to discover, and face even the contradictions in human communication and existence. Does thinking occur in images, abstract symbols according to mathematical logic or words? Is imagery fundamental in thinking or have mental images no causal role in thought processes?"
Bianka Hofmann, Linz 2019
Ars Electronica Center
Joined by Christoph Kremer, Bob Kastner, Mark Chavez
QUANTUM TECHNOLOGY WILL SHAPE SOCIETY
by Bob Kastner
I . Scientific research
In quantum physics “we are in the situation of sailors, who ended up in a far away country ... with a very strange language. The only option is to carefully feel how to find one´s way in the dark.” This could be an artists quote - but it´s not. The Nobel laureate in physics (1932) Werner Heisenberg, exploring the far away country of particles and waves, described his limitations with this sailor metaphor.
2. Sizes & dimensions
If you reach out for the Nobel Prize in quantum physics, you have to work with atoms and even smaller quanta and quarks. This world behaves strange, against our human logic and indeed we do not really “understand” the quantum universe. Human evolution did not equip us with senses for the atomic and subatomic environment. Elementary particles are invisible and don´t smell. The hydrogen atom performs on a stage of 10-10meters. Do we need to learn about dark matter or black holes? Why should we care about photons and their wave-particle duality?
II . Quantum industry
Scientific challenges are ahead but it is notable that quantum physics increasingly became a matter of engineering. Quantum Tech Industry is still in an early stage but governments and private investors recognize the revolutionary technology.Investments are reasonable which means two things: Quantum applications are within sight, and the pace of development is strongly increasing.
More than 10.000 people world-wide, with a combined yearly budget far over $2 biln, are involved in quantum technology R&D. These figures are exponentially increasing with governmental funding, with start-ups and corporate business looking for new profit streams. The race is on for quantum computers, quantum communication and quantum simulation. Are we users, followers or objects for governments and market segments for business? Are we on the driving seat or flying blind in the dark?
III . Applications
Quantum Computers are more than just supercomputers equipped with advanced processing power. They will be applied for complex computation producing quick decisions in real time applications – self drive cars, Internet of Things (IoT), military drones, financial trading within milliseconds. Imagine a global phonebook: A classical computer would search country after country followed by cities and then by single lines of names. A quantum computer will assess each line of this phonebook simultaneously and could present results within seconds. Quantum computers are faster – a billion times faster! And they work fundamentally different.
Quantum sensors will be utilized in material analysis, medical diagnosis or real time weather forecasts. Commercial investments are expected in underground mapping of natural resources. Currently engineers take years to optimize industrial applications like aircraft´s wings. The defense industry will develop materials for an advanced stealth technology. Satellite and submarine detection are on the military wish list. Gravity sensors will lead to a kind of “Gravitation Google Maps” to guide aircrafts and drones. Quantum simulation will change chemistry and biology research. This will lead to new pharmaceutical drug design. Quantum simulators will support biochemists to optimize drug applications against diseases.
Financial markets and portfolio performance rely on analyst´s assumptions and algorithms based on probabilities. Quantum computing identifies attractive portfolios and provides financial forecasting models. In the stock market theater quantum computers will support real time portfolio optimization. Quantum sensors and quantum simulation will work far beyond today´s digital computers and algorithms. Artificial intelligence (AI) will integrate the technology of wavy particles and granular waves. Quantum phenomena of superposition, entanglement and tunneling will pave the way to revolutionary new applications, that we have not even dreamed of yet. What are the objectives of governments and corporate business? Are we prepared for an informed opinion?
IV . Science–society gap
Future science will get even more complex. Quantum technology will lead to manifold challenges ahead. Let me remind you that civil society had no idea where theories of relativity (Einstein) - and quantum physics (Niels Bohr, Heisenberg and not to forget Lise Meitner) – civil society had no idea, where scientific theories would finally lead us and right now it´s still a foggy road ahead. Already in the 20thcentury we ended up in a first revolutionary development of atomic bombs and nuclear power plants. The second quantum revolution is on the doorstep and still civil society has no globally agreed perspectives. Let´s take efforts to develop informed opinions to facilitate responsible decisions. Quantum Travellers modestly intend to bridge the gap between science and society. We communicate technology with our visual, verbal and sonic narratives. We try to move complex science results into mainstream.
Our ancestors painted hunting scenes on cave walls and probably increased their survival rate. We all enjoyed the performance in this marvelous cave down there: You the participants, the artists, scientists, the producers, all entangled in the Ars Electronica Deep Space 8K, the 21stcentury cave.
Head of Candeed Cue;
"Our ancestors painted hunting scenes on cave walls and probably increased their survival rate. We all enjoyed the performance in this marvelous cave down there: You the participants, the artists, scientists, the producers, all entangled in the Ars Electronica Deep Space 8K, the 21stcentury cave."
Bob Kastner, Linz 2019
Ars Electronica Center
Joined by Christoph Kremer, Bianka Hofmann, Mark Chavez
Click on the image above to view publication.
11 MARCH 2019
11:00 AM, CET
Head of Candeed Cue;
"I think we should understand that artists have a more important role than just getting inspired by science. The artists – science and art is at eye height. Artists, as well as scientists are the ones taking these limits beyond the limitations of human logic."
Bob Kastner, Singapore 2019
School of Art, Design and Media
- for class Media Art Nexus
Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Singapore, School of Art, Design and Media
Joined remotely by Bianka Homann/Bremen & moderated by Ina Conradi/Singapore