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Legal Business In The Post-Quantum Society

Updated: May 10, 2023

By Katri L. Nousiainen & Joonas Keski-Rahkonen.

The tantalizing quantum technologies such as quantum computing are not anymore far-reaching hopes, but the dawn of the quantum age is just around the corner. Although the new quantum technologies are still at the early stage of commercialization, they have already begun to influence the structures of society in a spectrum of ways. Governments, corporations, and institutions should be prepared for the emergence of these new technologies, with the constant goal of improving society in general.

Some people see the quantum possibilities as miraculous to be shared openly, others are demanding strict control on the usage. For most part, neither of these extremes is desirable; only by finding a regulatory balance between freedom and control can we take advantage of the new emerging quantum technologies in the most beneficial ways to the whole society.

One of the emerging quantum technologies is quantum computers, which explicitly use and exploit the laws of quantum mechanics to store data and to carry out computational tasks. Even though any computational problem solvable with a classical computer can also be solved by a quantum computer, there are some situations where a quantum computer outshines its classical counterparts spectacularly. This quantum-boost will have far-reaching consequences for society. Nonetheless the full implications of quantum possibilities will be only shown by time, quantum computer resources promise a powerful high-speed processing tool for data science, an ultimate platform to simulate behavior of various physical systems, and sophisticated cybersecurity solutions that could overall shake up how we see computing, science, and product development of the future. Outside of academic curiosity, quantum-computing technology offers a giant leap, e.g., for healthcare, finance, and online security industries. On a more grandiose scale, quantum computers will open completely new applications for computing that are most likely to help us to tackle issues related to the green transition of society, vital to the planet we inhabit.

However, as we are entering into the new era of post-quantum world, the legal field with governmental operators and businesses should reflect upon the social and legal relevance of quantum computing. In particular, the legal arena should be prepared to take its own quantum leap. Foreshadowing this transition, we address a novel approach on quantum computing to law within the legal design framework.

The legal design approach aims to empower people within the intersection of means, such as interdisciplinary best practices, design methods, and technology. Generally, it encompasses four noteworthy functions: empowering, improving, supporting, and demonstrating (see fig. 1). In the quantum-computing environment, we see that the legal design approach can ensure law and legal practices to be more transparent, empathic, human-centric, efficient, and comprehensible as well as it can foster equality and nondiscrimination.

We want to underline that legal design can create a systemic impact on the legal framework in contributing to the quantum revolution. Legal rules and terms can be established in a program form as they are logical within their composition. By and large, the quantum advance for the legal profession is the fostered contract optimization and legal process, and the capability to efficiently process vast data sets which pave an accelerated path towards transparent legal solutions.

While being often regarded as static, the legal sphere must also adjust to a new social environment brought by the new quantum technologies. It is especially the duty of those who determine policies and regulations, and of those who practice in the legal arena, to ensure that their knowledge and expertise of current technology conditions are up to date. This is particularly essential since a new kind of law-and-order structure is required to be put in place when society takes its steps towards the post-quantum time.

Despite the urgence and utility during the quantum reformation of our society, no one has investigated earlier for the authors’ knowledge how to promote legal quality with the legal design approach in the quantum-tech framework. This deficiency is onward improved by the shortcoming of a greater ease of access for information. We cannot afford to wait, the time to act is now. To spark further debate on the legal environment in the post-quantum world, we put forward the proposal of The Quantum Roadmap - Law, Economics, Sustainability and Society (aka LESS).

As always, the application and possession of new technologies involve harmonizing different rights but also taking account of rising obligations. In anticipation of the social embodiment of quantum technologies, we address this regulatory dilemma within a legal design framework which comes together in our guideline – The Quantum Roadmap (LESS is more!). It dissects the emerging legal and ethical responsibilities into five basic principles that are ethics, inclusion, balancing regulatory activities, safeguarding individual rights, and innovating by design (see fig. 2). These five areas are composed of:

1. Ethics: Commercial incentives and business benefits should together be recognized within primary calls for humankind. Public good, transparency, and equal access are the guiding principles. The development or application of new technologies should not aggravate or create inequalities, neither it should create a diverse level of standing via its design nor should it enable for hidden discriminatory practices.

2. Inclusion: Democratic inclusion, resource and knowledge sharing are the guiding principles. The development or application of new technologies must be inclusive and enable utilization of the benefits and advantages for the common good of all humankind.

3. Balancing Regulation: Regulatory measures must not hinder the innovation, development, or the application of new technologies. As guiding principles, we must balance regulatory legal measures and activities, judicial rights and obligations, common public good, and incentives to develop and innovate. Moreover, we must secure fertile soil to develop technologies further.

4. Safeguarding individual rights: Safeguarding equal standing, non-interference on individual rights, and safeguarding for taking larger frameworks into account when making justified decisions affecting individual’s rights and obligations are the guiding principles. The development or employment of new technologies should not interfere with recognized individual rights, exclude individual access without good cause, create or aggravate inequalities between individuals, interfere on individual autonomy, create barriers to justice or other recognized democratic principles.

5. Innovating by design: The development or employment of new technologies should be designed in accordance with equality, transparency, ethics, and human centricity. Providing an equal access to technology, designing technologies to foster non-discriminatory practices, transparency, and sustainability.

The above principles will desirably guide the future legal regulation in the upcoming age of quantum technologies. In the end, equally effective and forceable, as predictability, transparency and stability are the cornerstone for respectful and functional society.

The brave new world of new quantum technologies is almost upon us. Undoubtedly, quantum technologies will have a profound social impact. This new age of quantum opens a new legal landscape. Therefore, it is pivotal to recognize the best characters now so that the flourishing new technology will maximally benefit the whole humankind. It is of the utmost importance to find the regulatory balance, ensuring the functionality of society while not smothering the evolution and integration of quantum technologies.


About the Authors

Katri Nousiainen is a Lawyer and Professional in Legal Education. She holds a European Master in Law and Economics (EMLE) LL.M, a Master Universitario di primo livello, a Master d’Analyse Economique du Droit et des Institutions, and a BA in Law.

She is known for her articles and book chapters on law and technology, especially related quantum technologies. In her work, she supports and assists companies and other operators in improving the quality and efficiency of their legal processes, products and services within the tools and methods of law & tech, innovation, and legal design.

Currently she holds a Resident Research Fellow position in the Harvard Law School at the Program on Negotiation. In addition to her work at the HSL, she is also affiliated with the University of Cambridge Law (the UK). Before joining the Harvard Law School, she was affiliated with the University of Berkeley Law, Center for Law and Technology (BCLT) and with the Aix-Marseille School of Economics.

Joonas Keski-Rahkonen is a postdoctoral researcher and teaching fellow in the Department of Physic at Harvard University, to where he moved after receiving his doctoral degree in computational physics from Tampere University in Finland 2020.

His research in theoretical and computational physics comprises the study of classical and quantum nature of chaos, transport phenomena in nano- and mesoscopic structures, and the development of simulation techniques.


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