(TechCentral.co.nz) The research group of Mile Gu, one of the scientists from Nanyang Technical University (NTU) in Singapore, realized that a quantum computer can examine all possible futures of a decision process. It does this by placing them in a quantum “superposition” — a kind of limbo in which different potential states occur simultaneously. Only when the system is observed or disturbed does it “collapse” into one state or another. Gu explained, “When we think about the future, we are confronted by a vast array of possibilities. These possibilities grow exponentially as we go deeper into the future. For instance, even if we have only two possibilities to choose from each minute, in less than half an hour there are 14 million possible futures. In less than a day, the number exceeds the number of atoms in the universe.”
In the new study, potential future outcomes of a decision process were represented by the locations of photons. The scientists showed that a superposition of multiple potential futures was weighted by the probability of one or other occurring when the system collapsed. The machine has already demonstrated one application — measuring how much our bias towards a specific choice in the present impacts the future.
Lead researcher Farzad Ghafari, a PhD student at Griffith University in Australia, said: “Our approach is to synthesise a quantum superposition of all possible futures for each bias. Many current artificial intelligence algorithms learn by seeing how small changes in their behaviour can lead to different future outcomes, so our techniques may enable quantum-enhanced AIs to learn the effect of their actions much more efficiently.”