Australia to invest $73 million in quantum science as critical technology

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By Colin Packham

CANBERRA (Reuters) -Australia will spend A$100 million ($73 million) to develop quantum technology, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday, as Canberra identifies nine areas of technology it believes critical for national interests.

Quantum technology, based on core principles of physics, is still in its infancy but has become a darling of investors aspiring to revolutionise industries from healthcare and finance to artificial intelligence and weather forecasting.

In recent months Australia has promised spending of billions of dollars to modernise its economy and cut dependence on China, by spurring manufacturing in industries such as resources and critical minerals as well as backing for development of low-emission technology.

Accelerating its economic plan, Australia will support nine technologies, the first of which is quantum technology. The bulk of the promised A$100 million going to commercialise Australia’s quantum research and forging links with global markets and supply chains.

“Quantum science and technology has the potential to revolutionise a whole range of industries,” Morrison said in a speech on Wednesday.

The announcement was welcomed by Australia’s information technology sector.

“Quantum technology has the potential to be a multi-billion dollar industry that generates thousands of Australian jobs,” said Ron Gauci, chief executive officer of the industry group, the Australian Information Industry Association.

Morrison said other technologies that will be supported include advanced cyber security, communications, mineral exaction, autonomous vehicles and novel antibiotics.

But he also warned of the ethical implications of such new developments.

“We need to be asking ourselves what should be done with technology — not just what can be done,” Morrison said.

($1=1.3633 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Michael Perry)



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