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Previous Programs

2018 Agency in the Physical World
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2016 Physics of the Observer
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2015 The Physics of What Happens
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2013 Physics of Information
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2010 The Nature of Time
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2008 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
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2006 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
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Eric Cavalcanti
Griffith University

Project Title

Causal reasoning in quantum agents

Project Summary

One of the abilities that distinguishes humans from other animals is our capacity to represent the world in terms of cause-and-effect relationships. It has been argued that human-level artificial intelligence will only be achieved if we endow machines with similar abilities to reason about the effects of their interventions in the world, and to imagine the potential outcomes of counterfactual courses of action. In current research in artificial intelligence, the mathematical machinery for this kind of representation is provided by the classical theory of causal models. Unfortunately, this theory is in direct conflict with quantum mechanics, as demonstrated through a number of theorems and experiments, such as those involving the phenomena of quantum nonlocality and contextuality. In recent years, a new research program is attempting to resolve this conflict by developing a quantum generalisation of the theory of causal models. In this project, I will aim to investigate how quantum causality differs from its classical counterpart in the representation and analysis of statements involving interventions and counterfactuals. This could form a fundamental part of the toolbox of automated reasoning in quantum artificial agents, and further our understanding of the nature of intelligence and agency in the physical world.

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