Governance Tools for the Second Quantum Revolution

59 Jurimetrics J. 487-521 (2019)

35 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2019 Last revised: 4 Mar 2020

See all articles by Walter G. Johnson

Walter G. Johnson

Arizona State University (ASU), Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Students; RegNet, Australian National University

Date Written: February 28, 2019


Quantum technologies are on the rise. Though still emerging, innovations in nascent quantum computing, cryptographic, and metrology domains promise lightning-fast computing, high-security communications, and hyper-sensitive sensors to improve multiple civilian sectors. The same technological developments threaten enhanced cyberattacks, broader surveillance, and destabilized national security. Growing hype and hyperbole amongst stakeholders and policymakers in the United States and elsewhere will soon trigger decisions laying the groundwork for innovation and oversight in the quantum technologies space. However, a legal and policy framework for governing quantum technologies at the federal or international level has not yet emerged and requires critical evaluation. More traditional command and control regulation could thwart promised advances and shirk national security imperatives, while under-regulation may jeopardize privacy rights and fail to realize useful civilian applications. Instead, softer governance approaches offer agility, flexibility, and an important first step towards responsible innovation and oversight in quantum technologies. Looking to the strengths and weaknesses of such soft law mechanisms implemented around nanotechnologies can illuminate and guide useful governance interventions. Optimizing the risk-benefit curve in dual-use quantum technologies will require public, private, and civilian entities to deploy soft law approaches to maximize societal benefits while mitigating domestic injustice and international tensions.

Keywords: quantum technologies, soft law, nanotechnology, standards, codes of conduct, voluntary regulatory programs

Suggested Citation

Johnson, Walter G. and Johnson, Walter G., Governance Tools for the Second Quantum Revolution (February 28, 2019). 59 Jurimetrics J. 487-521 (2019), Available at SSRN:

Walter G. Johnson (Contact Author)

RegNet, Australian National University ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601

Arizona State University (ASU), Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Students ( email )

Box 877906
Tempe, AZ
United States

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