Artificial intelligence may have beaten humans at chess and Go, but they couldn’t beat human intuition at one thing: quantum physics. In a game called Quantum Moves, it was video gamers rather than computers that satisfied the need for speed in quantum manipulations. The online game mimicked a complex quantum mechanical problem. Findings of the study were published in the journal Nature.
Quantum Moves is much more than a video game
For a long time, researchers have been working to develop quantum computers that take advantage of the way atoms behave to store and process data. Quantum computers have the potential to perform some of the most complex tasks like operating self-driving cars and cracking encrypted codes. But there are several problems that are yet to be solved.
Scientists led by Jacob Sherson of Denmark’s Aarhus University had to deal with the problem of moving atoms around without messing with the information they contained. Researchers turned the problem into the video game Quantum Moves and put it online for everyone to play. Researchers suspended the atoms in “light crystals” and allowed players to use optical tweezers to move them around.
What computers couldn’t accomplish
Atoms lose information quickly, and can lose it even at the slightest disturbance. So, you can’t move them at a relaxed pace. On the other hand, you can’t move these things fast because the moment you pick them up, they begin to slosh and have motion. So, researchers had to find an optimum speed to move sloshing atoms into a designated zone without spilling the material or running into obstacles.
Sherson said computers could not perform the task satisfactorily. But some of the video gamers had “solutions that were of higher quality and of shorter duration than any computer algorithm could find.” It is still too early to say if the new techniques would be helpful in making quantum computers because it is just one part of the extremely complex puzzle.