Editorial Feature

Creating Life on the Cloud with Quantum Computing


Late last year, a research team, led by Professor Enrique Solano at UPV/EHU-University of Basque Country, created a model of quantum artificial life on a quantum computer.

Life is a complex macroscopic feature emerging from inanimate matter, while quantum information is a feature of qubits - microscopic isolated objects happening in the universe of the very small.

Our research brought these amazingly sophisticated events called ‘life’ to the realm of the atomic and microscopic world… and it worked.

Professor Enrique Solano, UPV/EHU-University of Basque Country

The Quantum Biomimetic Protocol

The Quantum Technologies for Information Science (QUTIS) has developed a model of artificial life called the quantum biomimetic protocol which is able to accurately recreate Darwin’s Theory of Evolution using quantum algorithms and computing processes.

The protocol encodes specific quantum behaviors which are known to belong to all life. These characteristics include mutation, individual interaction, self-replication and death. When the protocol was uploaded to the cloud quantum computer IBM, ibmqx4, the experiment showed that ‘entanglement spreads throughout generations of individuals where genuine quantum information features are inherited through genealogical networks’.

While previous attempts have imitated life, including natural selection, with quantum computer systems, this new research takes it one step further. The university research team believes that they can design a specific set of quantum algorithms to accurately imitate complex biological processes and apply them on a quantum level. In an interview with Vice, Solano expressed interest in the application of ‘gender features’ to the protocol in order to observe the sexual and social interactions.

We may find that more than two genders [are] better, or perhaps none, for the sake of species survival and propagation.

Professor Enrique Solano, UPV/EHU-University of Basque Country

For now, the model consists of units of quantum life. Each unit is made of two qubits acting as a genotype and phenotype. The genotype contains information describing the type of life while the phenotype describes the individual characteristics. The difference between a genotype and a phenotype is that information for the genotype is hereditary and the information stored in the phenotype is determined by both genetics and interactions from outside stimuli.

“Our quantum individuals are driven by an adaptation effort along the lines of a quantum Darwinian evolution, which effectively transfer the quantum information through generations of larger multi-qubit entangled states.”

Scale Up of Quantum Simulation of Life

The research team’s aim is to be able to scale up the quantum simulation of life by increasing the number of interactions that occur in a units’ lifetime. It is expected that, given more time and research, the quantum artificial life could be implemented on a variety of quantum platforms, including photonic and ionic systems, neutral atoms or superconductor circuits.

While there has been much research around quantum computing, the main hurdle is always the computing hardware. Qubits, a main ingredient in this experiment, are incredibly sensitive and therefore the machines and systems to house them are very expensive, complex and difficult to maintain. The record for the largest qubit processor was set by Google and only used 72 qubits.

Despite this, the research team believe that their experiments could eventually lead quantum artificial life, intelligence and machine learning to be combined once technology has caught up.

Works Cited

  1. Oberhaus, D. (2018, October 5). Researchers Created ‘Quantum Artificial Life’ For the First Time. Retrieved from motherboard.vice.com: https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/mbdxav/researchers-created-quantum-artificial-life-for-the-first-time
  2. U. Alvarez-Rodriguez, M. S. (2018). Quantum Artificial Life in an IBM Quantum Computer. Scientific Reports 8.
  3. University of Basque Country. (2018, November 16). Quantum artificial life created on the cloud. Retrieved from phys.org: https://phys.org/news/2018-11-quantum-artificial-life-cloud.html

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