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.

Advertisements

Determinism Vs. Free Will Part 2

neuralpathways

The above picture is taken from neuroscientists tracking the different pathways in the brain.   It is fairly obvious that most of them head to the brainstem, but as you can see, towards the edges you have these flaps that connect with other areas of the brain.  Plus there could be some pathways touching others on their way to the brainstem.  This goes all around the brain.  I thought this picture was really cool and really enlightening as to the physical routes that these neural pathways travel.

And finally, comes my second post on this subject because I finished my book.  Determinists believe that the neural pathways that you see at the top of the post, can all be described by a set of algorithms.  That literally, since a brain is composed of biochemical processes and that they follow the laws of physics, that eventually neuroscientists with added knowledge will be able to describe different brains with different mathematics.  The implication of this, is that your thoughts, including your conscious thoughts, are just part of a system.  The conscious is just an illusion created by the brain.  The author does not go into why determinists think we have a conscious in the first place.  If conscious thought is too influenced by subconscious thought, then why do we have the experience of being us?  The best answer that I can give you, has to be one of survival.  With this view, I think subconscious and conscious thought to be part of a two core processor.  And it allows us to multitask within our thinking.  We could be sharpening an arrow head, but be thinking about what needs to be done next at the same time.  The sharpening of the arrow head would be in the subconscious networks, but the person wouldn’t really be thinking about it that hard and yet they are doing it.  The deliberation on what to do next is purely on the conscious networks.  And the conscious networks is able to probe so many different areas of the brain, that it helps ensure the most logical decision for what is known.  A different example would be having to bring livestock in when it is getting really stormy.  You are consciously trying to tie out the knots as fast as possible, but your subconscious is telling you to hurry up, forcing your conscious thoughts to center around untieing knots as quickly as you can and to do it as calmly as you can.   There is no doubt that after reading this book I have a much more appreciation for the subconscious.  It has much more influence on our decisions than we think.  And I think this influence, is enough to influence our free will that we should be truthful to ourselves and recognize that our decisions have both a conscious and unconscious component.  That our free will is not as much as pure as we would like to think.  I think right now with the experiments that were cited in this book, this is an okay assumption.

One experiment that I thought was very strong, was done with non-precise methods, so there is some intrinsic error.  However, I believe that there have been newer attempts at this methodology with better technology.  There just has to be, given the importance of this discovery.  And if it hasn’t been done already, trust me, it is going to be done.  I will show you why.

The scientist hooked up subjects to an EKG, which basically record electrical signals on the scalp, a way to record brain activity.  Then he asked his subjects to flick their wrist.  The EKG showed there was considerable amount of brain activity just before the flicking of the wrist.  So, he took the experiment a little further and had the subjects say when they were consciously flicking the wrist and he would record the time when they said it.  He found that there was heightened brain activity before the subject consciously made the decision.  Therefore, the subconscious made the decision.

The author said the experiment had a lot of intrinsic error.  It did on the precise times, but it was very clear that the subconscious was first and the conscious was second.  He then stated that we don’t know what that subconscious activity really was, that it could be anything else.  To me this is desperation at trying to discredit a pivotal experiment.  The EKG also records baseline activity, and when a certain task was presented, the activity went up followed by the conscious activity.  It is very safe to say that the subconscious activity was activity tailored towards the flicking of the wrist.  Considering the implications of this experiment, I would not be surprised if a group of scientists updated the methodology and redid the experiment.  I understand that the recording of times was not done in a very precise way.  But the scientist was able to clearly distinct the beginning of electrical impulses following by the conscious decision to flick the wrist.  To me that is good enough evidence.

And this book was a broken record.  He would come up with fictional story after fictional story to describe the moral deliberations that some of us have to make.  To show us that no algorithm can describe a “boundless” problem; therefore, we have free will.  It is true that these experiments (there are two more but they aren’t worth mentioning in my opinion) only have to do with very basic decisions.  So going to the grocery store and picking ham or bacon is probably a subconscious decision.  Or going holiday shopping and picking a dress for your daughter is subconscious as well.  But the author focused on moral problems because if you guys don’t remember, the first post on this is that if there is no free will, we have no moral responsibility.  But I think the author missed the mark on how scientists would create a algorithmic system of the brain.  He thought they would have to literally create each an every moral rule.  Killing trumps stealing, and etc.  So I guess you could make a very simple moral rule and it would be something like:  K > S .  And there would be hundreds upon hundreds of conditions, that would only deal with morality.  Computers are powerful.  But if you were to set up these “algorithms” for the entire brain, that is a lot of power a computer has to have.  Which is why I think there is a more efficient way to go about it.  And it has everything to do with the picture I showed you at the beginning of this post.

The first step would be to mathematically map the brain.  What I mean by that, is to describe neural networks in 3D space.  And, certain regions of the brain would be excited by the resultant of certain networks, which could therefore be calculated.  Eventually, scientists would be able to have the fundamental networks, or mathematical map, of the brain.  And through the mathematical interaction of these networks, they could calculate the resulting network that would be stimulated.  Therefore, from those fundamental equations, you could run them to get every possible segment if you really wanted to.  They would have a complete map of the brain.  They would have algorithms (the author said that some of the brain works algorithmically) describing the entire brain.  So I think technically determinism is true.  But that is half the battle.  How would we derive meaning or thoughts from those mathematics?  If you had a subject look at a picture of a sunset, and you saw and were able to predict the brain activity, what exactly was the subject thinking?  Ultimately I do not think it wold be possible for us to go that far.  I think that is a limit to where this science can go.  Do I think the brain can be mathematically mapped?  Yes.  Does that mean the brain works deterministically?  Yes.  Will we ever be able to predict with supreme accuracy what someone is thinking or doing?  No.  It just isn’t possible.

If you take these moral situations that this author wrote out, it became apparent to me that there is a common strategy.  First, think of all possible alternatives.  And, once the deterministic brain looks for all the possible alternatives, it makes the most logical choice given all the information.  He was looking at how the brain would be mathematically described in a completely wrong view in my opinion.  The computer power needed would be tedious and asinine.  If scientists were able to describe the pathways with equations, that would be much easier to compute than hundreds upon hundreds of rules just for morality.

The brain is influenced by genetics, environment, and past experiences.  Environment, can even change the expression of genes.  Meaning the gene stays the same, but the protein that comes out of it is different.  And past experiences the brain is able to learn from.  I firmly believe our brains follow the laws of nature, and that even our conscious is determined.  Our trail of thinking can be recorded mathematically and later predicted, but a scientist would never be able to predict a conscious deliberation, but that does not mean that determinism is not true.  I believe the conscious and subconscious are ways to multitask.  For example, thinking while walking, or thinking while doing anything.  Our subconscious is like our firmware, deeply programmed and is able to influence conscious thought.  Does that mean conscious thought can influence subconscious thought?  I am not sure because we are talking about he subconscious, but I will infer that yes it does.  But this is how perfect our system is.  Humans evolved with these huge brains that have both subconscious and conscious thoughts among other powerful things.  The separate consciousness naturally help us survive.  Of course homo-sapiens had to fend off many species of human, and I don’t know exactly how.  But still, I think it is a beautiful thing.  That a few rearrangement of genes provides the building blocks of something so complex as the human mind.  

In short, I am a determinist.  I think we all do things for a reason, and our brain works like a machine, and works by what it was designed to do.  But skeptics are going to want more and more proof, and over time there will be more and more studies and experiments.  I think in order for these experiments to have any more merit, they have to record brain activity doing more complex decisions.  The advancement of technology is there, but essentially they would have to wear functional MRI magnets on a portable apparatus that can be fit around the head.  The results have to be sent wirelessly.  Only then, will we get the definite data that the skeptics will require.  And you never know, I could very well be wrong here, and they prove that there is a free will.

Only time will tell, but free will is losing.

The Implications of Quantum Theory

Let me make this clear at the very beginning:  Quantum Theory is vastly different than Quantum Mechanics.  Quantum Mechanics is essentially applying Quantum Theory in the realm of physics.  I just recently read an article about how very smart people are starting to take the mathematical language of Quantum Theory to other disciplines.  I am going to go ahead and actually quote from certain sections of this article, so therefore I am going to cite this particular article.

Buchanan, Mark. “Quantum Minds.” New Scientist. 03 09 2011: 34-37. Print.

One implication that this mathematical language has shown a huge influence on, is logic.  The thought experiment presented in this article, had a physics nature about it to express how this correlates to human logic.  Imagine a thin sheet of paper, with two slits titled A and B.  If we were to open one slit up, let’s say A, and spray spray paint through that slit, we would get a certain pattern on the wall behind it.  Let’s do the reverse.  Let’s open slit B while closing slit A, and spray spray paint revealing a similar pattern on the wall compared to before.  Now, using classical logic, it would make sense if we were to open up both slits, that the resulting pattern would be the sum of the previous two patterns.  Unfortunately, through quantum theory this is not the case.  In fact, the overall pattern is vastly different.  What is astonishing, is the language has equations to explain this phenomenon.

So a competent reader can already see that quantum theory could really revolutionize logic, in a sense by disproving classical logic.  There is a whole mathematical language called logic, and that is traditional logic.  Quantum Theory could shake the foundations of that whole area of math.  Further, people have been using quantum theory and not really realizing it.  In this article, the main inventor of the search algorithms of Google, realized that he was using Quantum Theory ideas in his math.  I think we all know how well that search engine works.  And, towards the end of the article, brilliant minds in the realms of robotics are starting to apply Quantum Theory to the logic part of the robotic brain.  There is evidence that these programs are starting to deduce conclusions; in other words, they might be learning on themselves.  It seems that Artificial Intelligence could very well be possible, and the key would be Quantum Theory.

A thought psychologist was interviewed, and he thought quantum theory is a better representation or description to human thought.  Human thought does not ultimately follow classic logic in all circumstances.

And so, seeing how this language is having such an impact in our understanding of our world around us, I wanted to quote a specific paragraph.  This absolutely blew my mind.

“The strange links go beyond probability, Aerts argues, to the realm of quantum uncertainty.  One aspect of this is that the properties of particles do not exist until they are measured.  The experiment doing the measuring determines what properties an electron might have.”

This is insane.  Because, the whole premise of the scientific method, is that the experimental system is just witnessing a natural phenomenon.  But, if what this mathematical language is saying, is the very experiment dictates the behavior of the system that is being measured in the first place.  This ultimately explains why even through our current scientific method, humanity will never find Truth.  Simply, because once the experiment is done, the particles go to their true form.  Now, experiments might create conditions of those particles that are closer to their true form, but we will never see a particle in its true form using an experiment.  Period.  Because the experiment dictates the properties of the particle.

So essentially, this is evidence and an explanation, as to why we will never obtain Truth.  And why our universe is infinite while our minds and methodology is finite.  I suppose the fix to this problem, would be to create a whole other scientific methodology without experimentation.  Of course, as we know it, this is not possible, because over the centuries we have been refining the process of experimentation.  Maybe, just maybe, a very bright mind will create a whole new reliable process that does not use experimentation while providing concrete conclusions about the reality among us.  Or, this is just not possible.

This has huge implications to our current times as well.  CERN has just released a report saying that they clocked a particle called neutrinos that traveled faster than the speed of light.  Of course, the CERN is asking other labs across the globe to either verify or refute those findings.  Everyone within the scientific community thinks the methodology is solid, which means that the process is credible.  The beauty of this method so far though, is that labs might find other conclusions, or the same.  We do not know at this point.  The implications right now, is that if the neutrino is clocked to travel faster than the speed of light, than one of the Einsteins most famous theories would be in jeapordy.  The Theory of Relativity.  In the thought experiments that Einstein used to derive this theory, his assumption was that the speed of light was constant in no matter what frame of reference the object was in.  In other words, there was nothing faster than the speed of light.

And well, now there is an experiment that might show that things do travel faster than the speed of light.

But let’s go back to what quantum theory suggests.  Quantum Theory suggests that the very nature of this experiment could create conditions of the targeted particle, resulting in a particle that traveled faster than the speed of light.  And when that experiment is stopped, the targeted particle (in this case the neutrino) would go back to a purely natural existence.  Which, could very well be an existence where the neutrino does not travel faster than the speed of light.

So even if labs across the globe conclude that the neutrino travels faster than the speed of light, that does not necessarily mean it is so.  Because of the nature of the experiment, which therefore totally undermines our whole entire scientific method.  However, it is clear that this method is not completely wrong.  We have been able to come to solid conclusions and from those understandings, do some very powerful stuff with the world around us.  Which means, maybe truly good experimentation would create an experiment that would provide the conditions of whatever in the system closest to natural existence possible.  We may never know how this is accomplished, but, I think considering our understanding, we have probably accomplished this unintentionally.

My mind is blown.

The Fourth Dimension

I just had one of those eye-opening experiences in class, and this time it was during my Calculus III class today.  We just got introduced to functions with multiple variables.  During all this time studying calculus, we have been looking at an output that is dependent upon one input.  Now, things are spiced up a bit and we are starting to look at an output that is dependent upon two, maybe even three variables.

Let’s work from the ground up.  When looking at the very first functions studied, the domain and the range were dependent upon one dimensions, or well, a line.  When we add another variable to the domain (input) this essentially produces a surface/plane depending upon the conditions of the domain.  (Some domains are all real numbers, while some have very specific conditions.)  This essentially means that the surface dictates the value of one dimension, or a line.  Which means, I am sure math has explored functions that not only have a multidimensional domain, but also a multi-dimensional range.  However, let’s keep it simple.  As numbers are picked upon the two-dimensional surface that are legitimate for the overall function (domain) a z coordinate is produced showing a three-dimensional surface if everything was plotted.

From there we went into cross sections.  Topologists (map makers) basically use this concept constantly when calculating the height (z coordinate) of surfaces.  Essentially if they can create a two-dimensional axis of x and y, they draw a line that corresponds to a constant z.  After all the z’s are recorded, a three-dimensional surface can therefore be constructed, producing three-dimensional maps of the world around us.

But….let’s get even more spicy….

What if we were to make the domain of our function dependent upon three variables or dimensions?  The output inevitably could be a minimum of one more dimension.  Which means, if one were to attempt to graph the entire system, the minimum would have to be four dimensions.

How is that possible?

My awesome teacher basically proposed the strategies of the topologists to this problem with a three-dimensional domain.  The domain was essentially a sphere.  And well, the only way the human mind (at this point) can capture the overall system, is to show a sphere that shrinks or expands depending upon the passage of time.

This is why I think many intellectuals and geniuses view the fourth dimension as time.  And well, I do not necessarily think this is the case.  I think the human mind perceives the fourth dimension as time, I do not deny that.  But just because the human mind perceives something does not mean whatever is being perceived is Truth.

Therefore, just as the fourth dimension could very well be time, I think it could just be as possible that the concept of time is just a perceivement.  Time is just the result of our brains trying to “see” a dimension that is not easily seen.

If the reader has been reading other posts of mine, in one post that I wrote I talked about the possibility of humanity to be able to fully perceive other dimensions by either evolving or deriving another sense.  In which case, if I follow the same conclusions of that post, I think it is possible for humanity to either break the boundaries of the five senses, or derive other senses using the fundamental five.  This will inevitably change our percievement, which raises the possibility of being able to perceive more dimensions past three.

So, what would the fourth dimension look like?  Would we still perceive it as the passage of time?  Or would another phenomena take place?

Today was amazing.  Not only do I understand why theoretical physicists and mathematicians think that the fourth dimension is time, but by combining other thoughts and conclusions that I have made, I have deduced that time just could be the manifestation of our percievement, which does not necessarily mean reality.

And well, this class also showed me once again how math builds upon itself.  I finally understand why finding domain and ranges are so important.  And by following the foundations of practices of functions with one variable, processes can be figured out and followed to functions with more than one.  (Derivatives, Integrals, etc.)

Awesome!