Future Directions

part of The Coreworld: Quantum Teleportation and Artificial Souls by Alexander (Sasha) Wait

Any naturally occurring ecology has multiple time and space scales at which different, biologically important, phenomena occur; such ecologies also have different processes through which nutrients and energy flow into the ecology, are used or consumed by the inhabitants, and ultimately re-cycled for use by future generations. A quantum mechanical ecology-like the one envisioned here-adds a new twist to the study of artificial life; such ecologies could have the intriguing property that a model is very possibly more informative than the real thing (due to the physical constraints placed on measurement of quantum systems).

In this essay, I have speculated that complicated "difficult to write down" quantum histories could be precisely the ones that give the greatest selective advantage to the motifs that enact them; the length, in bits, of these histories could easily exceed the maximum apparent, entropy of the whole ecology. Thus, the standard maxim that a complexity measure should "reward" intermediate measures of complexity between total randomness and total order is not necessary, in this case. Simply equating the complexity of a quantum mechanical ecology with the length, in bits, of its compact description, or actual entropy, seems to capture the intuitive definition of "complexity". Similarly, such a complexity measure is consistent with a gradual "open ended evolution" since the primary gain in complexity comes from the quantum operations being added to their qubits' histories and this can go on for a period of time exponential in the apparent entropy of the ecology (at which point it becomes more compact to just store the quantum state).

In the future, the Quantum Coreworld ecology should leverage the availability of modest quantum computers and the rapid increase in classical computing power to explore the abstract world described here. It will be a long time before such advances could rival the awesome resources of the biosphere but-eventually with enough poking and prodding-a human, or super-human, intelligence will surely wake-up in an artificial world. In pursuing the intellectual puzzles presented by the Quantum Coreworld, I have always tried to keep an open mind to the ethical challenges that accompany such research. As we consider life as it might be-and demystify life as it is-these ethical challenges may ultimately prove to be more perplexing than the typical hurdles that normally preoccupy us.

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await @ genetics.med.harvard.edu