Toespraak minister Dijkgraaf bij opening Inside Quantum Technology The Hague


Minister Dijkgraaf (OCW) sprak bij de opening van het congres Inside Quantum Technology The Hague, op 22 februari 2022 in Den Haag. De tekst is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar. Het gesproken woord geldt.

Verantwoordelijke Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap
Thema Onderzoek en wetenschap
Documentsoort Toespraak
Publicatiedatum 22-02-2022
Documentdatum 22-02-2022
Onderwerp Wetenschap

Dear participants, and dear viewers of the livestream, wherever you are…

…welcome to The Hague… and welcome to the Inside Quantum Technology Conference 2022.

Before we begin, I must confess something to you: it's quite a special moment to stand in front of you in a new role.

For just a month now, I have been serving as Minister of Education, Culture and Science in the Netherlands, and it’s in this new capacity that I speak to you this morning.

At the same time, I've been working as a scientist for almost my entire life. In fact, as a theoretical physicist I spent decades studying the details of the smallest particles, until recently as director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, Einstein’s home.

Honestly, I'm still a bit confused about my true identity. Just as Schrödinger's cat, I feel I’m in a superposition of a politician and a scientist.

Perhaps it’s an appropriate condition as a minister of science – should I say Schrodinger’s minister – at a conference on the future of quantum technology.

Dear participants,

In preparation for today I had to think of the most confusing and fundamental principle of quantum theory: entanglement. Einstein’s spooky action at a distance.

Or in other words: the strange and intimate connection between two objects that cannot be understood in everyday terms. If 1 object changes, the other will change with it, which makes all kinds of beautiful and useful things possible.

As far as I'm concerned, entanglement is what this conference is about: new connections and new collaborations are central stage.

That's a good thing, because an important responsibility rests on our shoulders.

For when it comes to quantum technology, we are living in revolutionary times. A big bang of new ideas, technologies, and tools.

And we are all in the middle of it, you and me… in those first, concrete steps towards a new quantum universe that will be everywhere around us.

Just a hundred years ago, young physicists like Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg were just playing with equations on a blackboard to understand the inner workings of the atom. Only a small group of insiders could participate in their research.

How much difference a century makes.

It’s now estimated that more than 30 percent of our economy is based on quantum technology… a number that will only increase. And I’d like to add that 100 percent of reality depends on quantum theory!

In recent years, also thanks to your work, we have seen one breakthrough after another.

And I am quite proud that, thanks to decades of investing in research and talent, Dutch researchers and collaborations such as QuTech, are among the best in the world, and involved in many of those breakthroughs.

Like the development of silicon qubits, a quantum processor, and of course the launch of Quantum Inspire, Europe’s first public quantum computing platform.

In short, quantum mechanics is no longer a bug in our theory, something we didn't understand. It's a feature in our society, something we can actively use.

And quantum theory is no longer something for a scientific niche. On the contrary, there is a great deal of interest and broad support for it in society.

Quantum is alive. It’s at the top of our agenda.

And rightly so, because the potential is enormous.

Applying quantum technology can help us with the greatest challenges of our time: climate; healthcare; safety and privacy.

Which brings me back to the principle of entanglement, of interconnectedness.

It is precisely because the potential of quantum technology is so immense that we must join forces. And stay connected. That is why the Netherlands is fully committed to collaboration in the development of quantum, here in Europe and beyond.

In the coming years we will invest more than 600 million euros in our Quantum Delta. This is an international community, where knowledge institutions, companies and civil organizations will work closely together. Where talent from all over the world will be trained, and startups are given ample opportunity to grow. Where we offer space and time for fundamental research and innovation. And where, last but not least, we connect these revolutionary technologies to the grand challenges in society, engaging important public values, such as transparency and privacy.

Dear participants,

I very much hope that in the coming days you will not only strengthen your mutual entanglement, but also put it into practice. When I see the programme, I have no doubt that this will succeed.

I wish you a very inspiring and productive conference, and I look forward to the new breakthroughs that you will realize.

I will be cheering you on in my new role as minister. I hereby will collapse my wavefunction, and officially declare the Inside Quantum Technology conference 2022 open!