John Keane | Quantum Thinking
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Quantum Thinking

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Q1: Interview with John Keane from CISS University of Sydney on Vimeo.


The third annual Q Symposium of the Centre for International Security Studies, ‘Peace and Security in a Quantum Age: Moment, Matter, Mind and Metaphysics’, was held 11-13 February 2016.

Physicists and philosophers, diplomats and soldiers, novelists and filmmakers, historians and futurists, peace and security scholars, among others, gather to explore the origins, elements and outcomes of a quantum age.

Q3 starts with the Q Lecture at the Quadrangle of the University of Sydney on Thursday, 11 February. The following morning participants board a ferry at the Circular Quay for a two-day symposium at the historic Q Station, the former quarantine site of Sydney Harbour.

With quantum, ‘what’ begs questions of beginnings, levels of analysis and the boundaries of disciplinary knowledge. A hundred years ago the thought-experiments of quantum mechanics introduced new principles of wave-particle duality, uncertainty and entanglement to explain how the microphysical world works. In the following century, quantum interpretations were validated in laboratories, and practical applications soon followed, including – for better or worse – many of the technological markers of modernity, like thermonuclear weapons, computers, transistors, lasers, LED’s and mobile phones. More recently, quantum has been applied at the macrophysical level to posit new explanations for photosynthesis, bird migration, and most controversially, human consciousness; at the cosmological level to pose the origin – and possible end – of not just one but many universes; and at the metaphysical level, to consider the political, ethical and philosophical implications of quantum computing, communication and artificial intelligence.

Attaching quantum to phenomena beyond the sub-atomic can provoke skepticism and even hostility. However, quantum has from its origins raised serious philosophical and political questions as well as generated macro- and meta-physical implications for peace and security. Rather than wait for the possible to become real (see nuclear fission, 1939 to 1945), Q stages a critical inquiry into the societal, strategic and ethical consequences of living in a quantum age.

The Q Symposium at Q Station provides a unique opportunity to quarantine critical thinkers and innovative practitioners; question the assumptions of social, natural and physical sciences; engage in quality transdisciplinary research and transmedia production; and address the most pressing issues presented by quantum innovation. Thought experiments will be supplemented by philosophical and historical inquiry, field experience and laboratory findings as well as cinematic imaginaries and dreamtime.

Originally published on Project Q