18.8.09

Quantum Computers and the creation of human-level artificial intelligence - Uploading Schrodinger's Cat?!

This talk will put forward a case that quantum computers might help those who wish to achieve the goal of whole-brain emulation and exotic neural networks, and will review how this may provide insight into the currently hotly-debated topic of the role played by quantum mechanics in the brain and consciousness.

2pm-4pm, Saturday 12th September.
Speaker: Dr Suzanne Gildert,
Research Fellow at University of Birmingham, UK

Room CL 101, Clore Management Centre, Birkbeck College,
Torrington Square, London WC1E 7HX

The talk in more detail

This talk will explain the fundamental concepts of the quantum computer (QC) and how these systems might be able to perform certain tasks that classical computers find incredibly difficult. The talk will also explain why QCs might be useful for some very interesting problems with applications to a wide variety of fields such as biology, microprocessor design, pharmaceuticals, economics, transport, chemistry and business. More importantly, the talk will also explain what they can't do! Quantum computers are sometimes wrongly portayed by the media as being replacements for desktop machines, whereas the reality is that they are more like fast co-processors.

There will be a review of some of the experimental challenges involved in building QCs, and a focus on a particularly promising version known as the Superconducting Flux-based Quantum Computer. The devices involved in this type of QC are defined using a process similar to semiconductor technology, but using Niobium and Aluminium rather than Silicon. There will be a brief overview of the physics which causes these devices to demonstrate 'Macroscopic Quantum Coherence'- an effect which allows us to scale up quantum effects to a size where we can manipulate them easily, and why the devices must be cooled to millikelvin temperatures for them to work properly.

Finally, the talk will look at several 'controversial' applications which may arise as Quantum Computing (and classical High Performance Computing) begins to cross into the field of neuroscience and neural networks.

About the speaker

Dr Suzanne Gildert is a Research Fellow and Experimental Physicist at the University of Birrmingham. She is currently working on the design and testing of novel superconducting devices (specifically Josephson Junctions) using non-conventional materials and processing techniques. Her physics webpage.

There is no charge to attend and everyone is welcome.

General discussion is likely to continue after the event, in a nearby pub, for those who are able to stay. Why not join some of the Extrobritannia regulars for a drink and/or light lunch beforehand, any time after 12.30pm, in The Marlborough Arms, 36 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ. To find us, look out for a table where there's a copy of the book displayed, "A Shortcut Through Time: The Path to the Quantum Computer".

About the venue:

Room CL 101 is on the first floor of the Clore Management Centre, which is on the opposite side of Torrington Square from the main Birkbeck College building. Torrington Square is a pedestrian-only square and is about 10 minutes walk from either Russell Square or Goodge St tube stations.

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