Researchers have developed a quantum bio-mimetic protocol that reproduces the characteristic process of Darwinian evolution adapted to the language of quantum algorithms and quantum computing. The researchers anticipate a future in which machine learning, artificial intelligence and artificial life itself will be combined on a quantum scale.
A scenario of artificial intelligence could see the emergence of circumstances in which models of simple organisms could be capable of experiencing the various phases of life in a controlled virtual environment. This is what has been designed by the QUTIS research group at the UPV/EHU's Department of Physical Chemistry, but the scenario is that of quantum computers: an artificial life protocol that encodes quantum behaviors belonging to living systems, such as self-replication, mutation, interaction between individuals, birth and death, and has been executed on an IBM ibmqx4 cloud quantum computer. This is the first experimental realization on a quantum computer of a quantum algorithm of artificial life following Darwin's laws of evolution.
The algorithm follows a protocol that the researchers refer to as bio-mimetic and which encodes quantum behaviors adapted to the same behaviors of living systems. Quantum bio-mimetics involves reproducing in quantum systems certain properties exclusive to living beings, and this research group had previously managed to imitate life, natural selection, learning and memory by means of quantum systems. This research aimed, as the authors themselves describe, "to design a set of quantum algorithms based on the imitation of biological processes, which take place in complex organisms, and transfer them to a quantum scale, so we were only trying to imitate the key aspects in these processes."
Quantum artificial life: A promising future
In the scenario of artificial life that they designed, a set of models of simple organisms are capable of accomplishing the most common phases of life in a controlled virtual environment, and have proven that microscopic quantum systems are able to encode quantum characteristics and biological behaviors that are normally associated with living systems and natural selection.
The models of organism designed were coined as units of quantum life, each one of which is made up of two qubits that act as genotype and phenotype, respectively, and where the genotype contains the information that describes the type of living unit, and this information is transmitted from generation to generation. By contrast, the phenotype, the characteristics displayed by individuals, are determined by genetic information as well as by the interaction of the individuals themselves with the environment.
This experimental test represents the consolidation of the theoretical framework of quantum artificial life in an evolutionary sense, but as the model is scaled up to more complex systems, it will be possible to implement more accurate quantum emulations with growing complexity towards quantum supremacy," as the authors pointed out, the researchers opine.