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Singularity Summit – Michael Nielsen’s Quantum Computing 101

I doubt any one is going to say that this year’s Singularity Summit wasn’t technical enough! For a good example, take Michael Neilsen‘s "Mathematics of Quantum Computing In Ten Minutes" presentation on Saturday, where Michael summarized his quantum computers model at an easy to follow pace in record time.

Michael answered a lot of the basic questions that everyone always asks about quantum computing, such as "what are quantum computers really good for?" His answer was that we don’t know very much about the answer to that question, but  we do know they find prime factors very well.

He explained that what’s interesting about quantum computers is the gap between our ability to construct a concrete model of how they work, and what’s actually going on. He called this the "quantum gap."

Michael then asked himself the question "What’s quantum computing got to do with the Singularity," which led to an interesting possibility that the audience seemed to latch on to for the rest of the conference – that of a "quantum AI."  He thinks an AI would probably have to build a quantum AI. He explained how a quantum AI would have completely different reasoning, and that having quantum AIs could bring about a "Quantum Singularity" — the likes of which we cannot even fathom.

One attendee asked what the relationship was between bit states and the idea of a quantum consciousness. "In terms of what I’m talking about, none," he answered.

Another attendee asked when we might expect to have large-scale quantum computers? "When we have near perfect control of one or two qubits," he answered.

Michael’s bottom line was quite clear. We don’t really understand exactly how quantum computing works. "Perhaps someday, a quantum AI will actually understand quantum mechanics and explain it to us," he mused.


What do you think about the possibility of a "Quantum AI" that might bring about a "Quantum Singularity?" Tell us on the blog.




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