Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Computers and Many Worlds

I commented on this New Yorker article:
Deutsch believes that if a quantum computer were built it would constitute near-irrefutable evidence of what is known as the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. A number of respected thinkers in physics besides Deutsch support the Many Worlds Interpretation, though they are a minority, and primarily educated in England, where the intense interest in quantum computing has at times been termed the Oxford flu. But the infection of Deutsch’s thinking has mutated and gone pandemic. Other scientists, although generally indifferent to the truth or falsehood of Many Worlds as a description of the universe, are now working to build these dreamed-up quantum computing machines.
They are indifferent to the concept because it is a meaningless fantasy.

Computer scientist Scott Aaronson writes:
However, reading this article also depressed me, as it dawned on me that the entire thing could have been written fifteen years ago, with only minor changes to the parts about experiment and zero change to the theoretical parts.  I thought: “has there really been that little progress in quantum computing theory the past decade and a half —- at least progress that a New Yorker reader would care about?” ... A good analogy would be an article about the Web, published today, that described the strange and exciting new world of Netscape, HotBot, and AltaVista.
There may never be any such progress. The whole subject has been greatly oversold.

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