Quantum is often framed as ‘spooky’ or ‘enigmatic’ and developments in quantum technology are sometimes narrowly described, while the technology is already envisioned to be ‘disruptive‘ to society. Quantum technologies are an emerging field that promise a wide range of technological advancements and applications. They are currently worldwide subject of speculation and investment. The current communication on the technology is sensitive to hype, to generate excitement about potential new developments and to increase support and trust in society. But hyped communication can be problematic, for example there can be public deception when promises are not met. This PhD project aims at a deeper understanding of the role of hype in public engagement with quantum science and technology. This project is supervised by the PI Julia Cramer, and co-supervised by the promotor Ionica Smeets.
You start the project by a literature review on hype and it’srole on public engagement on emerging technologies such as AI and nanotechnology. You will follow-up with a content analysis determining the amount and form of hype in different forms of popularization of quantum science and technology. Finally, you will develop a real-world experiment measuring the effect of hype on the public acceptance, knowledge and attitude towards quantum science and technology. This work will add to the theoretical knowledge of the role of hype in popularization of emerging technologies and will offer practical advice to the increasing ecosystem of Quantum Delta NL.
This position is funded by the Growth Fund of Quantum Delta NL, a Dutch collaboration that is creating a national ecosystem for excellence in quantum innovation, for highly talented professionals to bring quantum computers, quantum networks and quantum sensors to the market. One of the action lines focusses on the Ethical, Legal and Societal aspects of quantum technology. We are part of this action line, focusing on the societal impact.
The research group ‘Quantum and Society’, led by Julia Cramer, studies the societal impact of quantum technology from a science communication perspective. We are an interdisciplinary group affiliated with the Faculty of Science, connected to quantum physics (LION) and Science Communication and Society (IBL), using methods from the social sciences.
Our research group focuses on studying the boundary between quantum technology and society via:
- Content analyses of existing communication about quantum science and technology such as outreach by experts, media coverage, and policy documents.
- Development of instruments to measure the attitude and engagement of specific societal groups towards and with quantum technology and their concerns, questions and expectations of quantum technology.
- Research into the effect of empirically developed interventions on participants in such interventions.
In this PhD, you will study the role of hype on public engagement with quantum technology on various aspects as described above. You will publish academic papers on your findings, present your work at academic conferences and partake in outreach. You will spend 20% of your time on the Center for Quantum and Society. You will build your own network and work in and on a new and interdisciplinary research field. You will assist with student supervision and teaching and complete a PhD thesis in four years.