Establishing a Legal-Ethical Framework for Quantum Technology

16 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2021

See all articles by Mauritz Kop

Mauritz Kop

Stanford Law School ; AIRecht

Date Written: March 2, 2021


What is quantum technology?

Quantum technology is founded on general principles of quantum mechanics and combines the counterintuitive physics of the very small with engineering. Particles and energy at the smallest scale do not follow the same rules as the objects we can detect around us in our everyday lives. The general principles, or properties, of quantum mechanics are superposition, entanglement, and tunnelling. Quantum mechanics aims to clarify the relationship between matter and energy, and it describes the building blocks of atoms at the subatomic level.

Raising Quantum Awareness

Quantum technologies are rapidly evolving from hypothetical ideas to commercial realities. As the world prepares for these tangible applications, the quantum community issued an urgent call for action to design solutions that can balance their transformational impact. An important first step to encourage the debate is raising quantum awareness. We have to put controls in place that address identified risks and incentivise sustainable innovation.

Connecting AI and Nanotechnology to Quantum

Establishing a culturally sensitive legal-ethical framework for applied quantum technologies can help to accomplish these goals. This framework can be built on existing rules and requirements for AI. We can enrich this framework further by integrating ethical, legal and social issues (ELSI) associated with nanotechnology. In addition, the unique physical characteristics of quantum mechanics demand universal guiding principles of responsible, human-centered quantum technology. To this end, the article proposes ten guiding principles for the development and application of quantum technology.

Risk-based Quantum Technology Impact Assessment Tools

Lastly, how can we monitor and validate that real world quantum tech-driven implementations remain legal, ethical, social and technically robust during their life cycle? Developing concrete tools that address these challenges might be the answer. Raising quantum awareness can be accomplished by discussing a legal-ethical framework and by utilizing risk-based technology impact assessment tools in the form of best practices and moral guides.

Keywords: Quantum Technology, Legal-Ethical Framework, Law, ELSI, Quantum Mechanics, Regulation, Superposition, Entanglement, Tunnelling, Human-Centered Quantum Computing, Intellectual Property, Sustainable Innovation, Regulation, Technology Impact Assessment, Nanoethics, Risks, Guiding Principles, Asilomar

JEL Classification: O24, O31, O32, O33, O34, O35, O38, O39, K11, K12, K39, F13, Z18

Suggested Citation

Kop, Mauritz, Establishing a Legal-Ethical Framework for Quantum Technology (March 2, 2021). Yale Law School, Yale Journal of Law & Technology (YJoLT), The Record, March 30 2021,, Available at SSRN:

Mauritz Kop (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

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Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States


AIRecht ( email )

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020 261 4898 (Phone)


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