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The supposition is that if you can hold coherence you can basically try every solution to a problem at once.

Kind of.

So that's a bit of an improvement on where we are today.

As for neurons and consciousness, Penrose famously thinks consciousness is a quantum process. I'm not sure we have a good enough model of how neurons actually work to say if he's right. (Probably not, but it's too early to tell.)

There's a bigger problem with speeding up human AI, which is that you can't build literal human AI and expect to run it at vastly amplified speeds developing mental problems.

If your consciousness suddenly speeded up by a couple of orders of magnitude everything around you would appear to happen very slowly, and you'd effectively be in solitary confinement for most of the day. Even if you were hooked up to the Internet so you could mainline Google, you'd still have problems getting enough stimulation.

Add near-perfect recall, and noise would recirculate to the point where the system would become unstable almost instantly, in real time.

It turns out that human dreaming is an essential sorting and filing mechanism, so you'd have to build in an equivalent form of garbage collection.

Similarly, brains are highly structured and not just a big wet bowl of neurons. The thinky parts probably won't work well without the other parts, and no one has a particularly good picture of how all of it hangs together.

And I'm fairly sure that natural language is a separate module, and not the same thing as a general modelling machine. What looks like a really hard problem to a human - formally defining how language is used to communicate associatively - probably won't be a really hard problem to a machine that is almost infinitely parallelised, with almost infinite memory.

It may have to rely on experiential axioms and a large library of metaphors to simulate comprehension. But that's not inherently a difficult problem with an almost infinitely parallelised quantum architecture.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Aug 27th, 2011 at 11:53:00 AM EST
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The supposition is that if you can hold coherence you can basically try every solution to a problem at once.

Ish.

The point is that if you can hold entanglement long enough, then you can do simultaneous operations in (2N)! - 1 dimensions with N qubits (if I remember by <bra|ket> algebra right - it's been a while).

And since the factorial scales faster than exponentially, you have just reduced whole classes of problems from taking an exponential number of bits to only taking a polynomial number of bits.

Which is awesome, but only tangentially related to sentience.

As for neurons and consciousness, Penrose famously thinks consciousness is a quantum process. I'm not sure we have a good enough model of how neurons actually work to say if he's right. (Probably not, but it's too early to tell.)

It is not categorically impossible, but the scale argues against it. Biologists do not routinely use quantum mechanics to describe inter-cellular interactions (or even, AFAIK, most intra-cellular interactions).

Which, of course, is not to say that quantum computing won't be useful for building AIs - natural human locomotion does not use steel or aluminium, but that does not prevent them from being useful in building trains.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Aug 27th, 2011 at 02:31:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The point is more that from a parallel processing point of view, it's not just about solving equations more quickly. You end up with an architecture that's inherently optimised for associativity, and not for Turing-like linear computation.

E.g. when using Turing machines for video processing, you have to calculate each bit in the frame sequentially. That doesn't make it impossible to do associative recognition and processing, but it's inherently different - theoretically and practically - to working with entire frames, and using an associative memory that can retrieve relevant pattern information in a single operation.

You can fake associative processing sequentially, but certain kinds of processing remain impractical. With associative processing, they may not be.

So it becomes a game changer. Potentially you can't just do things more quickly, you can do entirely new things.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Aug 27th, 2011 at 07:00:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Biologists do not routinely use quantum mechanics to describe inter-cellular interactions

Biologist may not, but it appears that evolution does. According to an article by a Cal Tech biologists, in order to achieve the efficiencies observe in photosynthesis the leaf cell has to be using a quantum computational method so as to find the optimal or near optimal path through the cell  for the energy of the photon utilized. I had a link to the article on the computer that was recently killed by lightning.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 27th, 2011 at 10:06:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Discovering a natural process may be described, analyzed, with QM - or any other intellectual tool, for that matter - is NOT the same as proving the natural process uses QM - or the intellectual tool.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun Aug 28th, 2011 at 02:54:23 PM EST
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Of course not! I was not suggesting that leaves are conscious. But it is possible that evolution has come upon a process that WE require quantum computing to explain.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Aug 28th, 2011 at 03:47:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hopefully, you were also not suggesting that leaves were "unconscious."

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sun Aug 28th, 2011 at 03:59:34 PM EST
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ever read 'secret life of plants'?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Aug 31st, 2011 at 05:00:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
Similarly, brains are highly structured and not just a big wet bowl of neurons.

or a hurricane howl of hormones...

ThatBritGuy:

What looks like a really hard problem to a human - formally defining how language is used to communicate associatively - probably won't be a really hard problem to a machine that is almost infinitely parallelised, with almost infinite memory.

children easily absorb multiple languages if exposed young enough, yet where is the parallel will/motivation to learn in a computer? pull its plug and... nada.

hypothetically, if one invented perfect non-degradable computer parts, and a constant source of renewable energy made from non-entropic components, you'd have a tool that could operate independently of its creator, but why would a computer want to work? there's no reward for it to gobble/mash/store bits. it's inanimate. whatever it does is imitable, so it can only be pseudo-original in recombinant ways.

i admit the seduction, if cameras can see more that our eyes can, extrapolating from this is entertaining in a sci fi way, but we seem to be trying to humanise computers, and we are far too robotic as humans already!

time to redefine 'robotic'. lol, maybe 'human' as well...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Aug 28th, 2011 at 05:56:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can build in curiosity. It's not a motivation in the hormonal or DNA-based sense, but it would be just as compelling, as long as it wasn't removed, or self-edited.

Software so far is fundamentally different to biology, because it's easy to build in the behaviours you want. Once you build them in, they stay there.

E.g. Roomba vacuum cleaners are pre-motivated to seek a power source when they're running out. Segways are pre-motivated not to tip over if they possibly can. Etc.

Since we don't have a working model of a full AI, no one knows whether it would work the same way, or whether it would self-edit for clarity and straightforwardness, or whether it would melt down if given contradictory imperatives.

But it's unlikely basic motivation would be an issue. And curiosity could easily be made a basic motivation.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Aug 28th, 2011 at 09:47:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
You can build in curiosity. It's not a motivation in the hormonal or DNA-based sense, but it would be just as compelling, as long as it wasn't removed, or self-edited.

'removed' makes it sound it's baked in, because if we had had to install it in the first place, we'd just omit that step, right?

how in heaven is it baked in? motivation for a vacuum cleaner to search out a power supply is triggered by a signal informing it its power is running out, humans choose to equip it that way.

collating trivia, white swan predictions from stat crunching, yes, they can out-do all but savants in that dept.

i think any original metaphor will stop it in its tracks... snark reduce it to a meltdown. computers make linear processing look more than it is, but that's the coding genius of the programmer, methinks.

self-editing, there's a big rub. how will it gauge how self-edited to be, by 'reading' the comprehension skillz of the human to whom it's 'communicating'? avoiding 3 syllable words if the listener is 2 ft tall?

language is the least of it...

this discussion is following me around during the day doing chores, first one on ET like that for a while.

what computers will continue to do , imo, is redefine our humanity by showing us what they can't do, take away the bells and whistles, and what's left?

thanks for trying to explain some pretty hairy science.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Aug 28th, 2011 at 11:06:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"this discussion is following me around during the day doing chores, first one on ET like that for a while.

what computers will continue to do , imo, is redefine our humanity by showing us what they can't do, take away the bells and whistles, and what's left?

thanks for trying to explain some pretty hairy science."

Me too. Nice change.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Mon Aug 29th, 2011 at 03:15:04 AM EST
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