Quantum Computing and Innovation

Ceder, Gerbrand, and Kristin Persson. "The Stuff of Dreams." Scientific American.  12 2013: 36-40. Print.

This article was truly a captivating and exciting article.  The power that this technology holds on not only the material sciences, but of other fields, could essentially invoke a revolution.  Scientists have created quantum computers – super computers that operate with the language of quantum mechanics.  Quantum mechanics is another breed of mathematics that help describe the atomic level.  I know very little about quantum mechanics myself, except for the general statements that a person can not wrap their head around the behaviors of the quantum world.  Classical logic does not work.  Also, quantum mechanics uses probabilities to describe where certain particles are more likely to be at, rather than continual certainty.  Also, a quantum computer uses the fundamental essence of information called a qbit.  In classical computers the bit either represented a one or a zero.  A qbit can represent a one, zero, or any superposition of those two.  With the qbit itself able to represent more than two states, this shows the creative potential of a quantum computer.

The application of a quantum computer in the material sciences could not be more fitting.  These scientists are able to construct theoretical compounds and materials, while also being able to do calculations on those theoretical compositions.  They can calculate theoretical conductivity, opaqueness, brittleness or strength, to even weight.  These computers are able to predict the compatibility of these various atoms by doing quantum calculations on the theoretical atoms the computer is constructing.  In the past, much of the material sciences was trial and error.  One tried a certain composition and if it “stuck” so to speak, then tests had to be performed to learn about the characteristics of that material.  It could very well be possible that after all of that testing, it could not be favorable to be used in a real world setting.  Therefore, this method of quantum computing saves lots of time and money (albeit it was not cheap building and programming the computer itself) with the process of materials design.  Materialists are able to give the computer parameters to do its work by.  So if a designer wants a material with a certain conductivity, density, and strength, the computer will be able to narrow down to hundreds of possible theoretical materials.  Then, the operator would be able to run a series of tests on these theoretical compositions to help narrow down the candidacy even further.  To make things better, organizations around the world are pooling their data into one database.  This way, there is time saved by just having to look up materials that have already been tested.   Maybe one day if it isn’t done so already, the public database will be streamlined into the super computer systems.  Updating its systems on theoretical compositions, the computer will know which materials that don’t need to be tested.  That system will update the public database of new findings, to the point, that the entire theoretical universe of materials design will be recorded.  That is the holy grail of material sciences.  They would have a great place to start in determining what new material to pursue, in caparison to doing trial and error in finding the right material.

This innovation, the quantum computer, is not just an innovation for materials design, but is a innovation for all of humanity.  One of the prerequisites to Artificial Intelligence (AI) is having the foundation of a quantum computer.  Programming something that is self-aware and able to learn, that is another stepping stone, and it is one that is going to be pursued.  But what is intriguing, is we will be using these quantum computers to innovate for us.  A TED talk that I watched talked about how innovations in general have kept humanity from mass casualties due to over population.  The Earth naturally puts conditions in place for a species that becomes over populated, and our innovations have battled against Earth.  One of the impactful moments of his presentation, was the fact that the rate of innovation has steadily been increasing over the years.  Therefore it is concluded, that humanity won’t be able to keep up with the rate of innovation, and eventually Earth will start to eradicate large segments of humanity.  However, there is hope.

Humanity will probably try and beat mother nature, rather than identifying and dealing with a population problem.  Quantum computers will be more streamlined, and will be used to innovate in various fields.  An AI with access to a database of all known knowledge, would easily be able to provide innovations that humanity requires.  (A team is already working on creating a database of all known knowledge)  I am willing to suspect there will be ideas that we will not be willing to do.  If we as humanity would create a system to quickly streamline the innovation process, no matter what it would be, humanity’s population would reach for the stars, probably quite literally too.  But we would let the super computers innovate for us engineering designs, materials, and production methods.  If we could automate that process, with advanced robotics, we would be able to flush out solutions to various problems and ensure the survival of humanity, while keeping the paradigm that we are in.

Honestly, I would rather change how we think in order to be more stable.  I have stated the specifics of that throughout this blog.  But I think people don’t want to change our way of life, and if they do, they feel like they couldn’t do it.  People for the most part consume products and services and don’t really think.  Regardless, quantum computing provides an answer assuming we have the resources to sustain it.  We could innovate at a much faster speed, keeping up with Mother Earth.  But I still think eventually, if all else works out, there will be a shortage of resources, and Gaia will have the last laugh.

This was a very enjoyable read.  I think we are on the brink of an AI revolution.  We have all the prerequisites in place:  a quantum computer.  How researchers go about coding a brain is beyond me, but will surely be pursued if it hasn’t been already.  I think with the advancement of technology we are going to have to greatly reconsider our model of economics.  But that is for another discussion entirely.

Thanks for reading.