Apr 09, 2019 11:10 AM EDT
A group of researchers has constructed a prototype quantum device that has the potential of generating all possible futures in a simultaneous superposition. This team comprised of researchers from Nanyang Technology University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), and Griffith University.
While talking about the device, Assistant Professor Mile Gu of NTU who initiated the development of the quantum algorithm that underpins the prototype, noted that when humans think about the future, a vast array of possibilities confront them.
Furthermore in his address, as humans go deeper into the future, these possibilities grow exponentially. Even if they have each minute only to choose from two options, there are 14 million possible futures in less than half an hour. And the number exceeds the number of atoms in the universe in less than a day.
However, Mile and his co-researchers realized that a quantum computer could study all possible futures by putting them in a quantum superposition, equal to the famous cat of Schrodinger that is dead and alive simultaneously.
Mile and his team then joined forces with the experimental group of Professor Geoff Pryde of Griffith as the leader.
When the two groups came together, both forces were able to implement a specially-devised photonic quantum information processor whereby the locations of photons, quantum particles of light represent the potential future results of a decision process.
In their demonstration, the state of the quantum device was a superposition of multiple potential futures, weighted by their probability of occurrence.
The lead author from Griffith, Farzad Ghafari stated that their approach is to synthesize a quantum superposition of all possible futures for each bias.
Ghafari moved on to say that when they interfere with these superpositions, they can avoid viewing each possible future individually. Several artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms can learn through seeing how small changes in their behavior can lead to different future outcomes.
He is optimistic that their techniques may enable quantum enhanced AIs to learn the effect of their actions much more efficiently.
The group also noted that even though their prototype simulates approximately 16 futures simultaneously, in principle, the underlying quantum algorithm can scale without bound.
A member of the Singapore team, Dr. Jayne Thompson said that the Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman was the inspiration behind the functioning of this device. While studying quantum physics, Feynman realized that a particle that moves from point A to B doesn't necessarily follow a single path, but connects the points and transverses all possible ways.
Thompson believes their work extends this phenomenon and harnesses it to model statistical futures.
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