Quantum Computing for Societal Impact: CERN’s Open Quantum Institute Initiative

A recent announcement from CERN has unveiled a new three-year program aimed at harnessing the power of quantum computing for societal benefits. The program, named the Open Quantum Institute (OQI), is designed to make quantum computing resources and technical expertise accessible to a broader audience, particularly projects that align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Key Highlights:

  • The Open Quantum Institute (OQI) is a three-year initiative hosted by CERN.
  • The program is a collaboration between the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA) and over 130 experts.
  • The OQI aims to bridge the digital divide by making cutting-edge quantum technologies available to underserved regions.
  • Potential use cases include optimizing the food supply chain, enhancing medical imaging through quantum machine learning, and improving carbon fixation processes to combat climate change.

A Quantum Leap for Societal Challenges:

The OQI, while being hosted by CERN, has been meticulously crafted in collaboration with the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA) and a team of over 130 experts. With funding from UBS as the lead impact partner, the program was officially announced during the 2023 GESDA summit. The OQI will be integrated into CERN’s Quantum Technology Initiative (QTI) by March 2024, acting as the societal branch of the QTI.

Bridging the Digital Divide:

One of the primary objectives of the OQI is to ensure that the benefits of quantum computing reach as many people as possible. By providing access to quantum computing resources and expertise, the institute hopes to prevent the emergence of a new digital divide. The UN’s SDGs, which represent global societal challenges, are at the heart of this initiative. Enrica Porcari, head of CERN’s IT department, emphasized the importance of transcending geographical and disciplinary boundaries to harness quantum computing for addressing these challenges.

Quantum Computing in Action:

Several potential use cases have been identified for exploration during the pilot phase of the OQI. These include:

  • Optimizing the Food Supply Chain: Leveraging quantum computing to ensure better food security, addressing the SDG of Zero Hunger.
  • Enhancing Medical Imaging: Utilizing quantum machine learning solutions for more accurate medical imaging, targeting the SDG of Good Health and Well-being.
  • Combating Climate Change: Employing quantum computing simulations to improve the carbon fixation process, thereby reducing atmospheric CO2 levels and addressing the SDG of Climate Action.

During its three-year pilot phase, the OQI plans to support three to four projects that target SDG-related use cases. The institute also aims to lay the groundwork for future phases and serve as a benchmark for other initiatives focused on deploying quantum technologies for the greater good.

Summary:

CERN’s Open Quantum Institute (OQI) represents a significant step forward in leveraging the potential of quantum computing for societal benefits. By aligning its goals with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the OQI aims to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges. From optimizing food supply chains to enhancing medical imaging and combating climate change, the potential applications of quantum computing are vast. As the OQI embarks on its three-year pilot phase, the global community watches with anticipation, hopeful for the positive changes this initiative might bring.