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2018 Agency in the Physical World
2018 Awardees

2016 Physics of the Observer
2016 Awardees

2015 The Physics of What Happens
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2013 Physics of Information
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2008 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
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2006 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
2006 Awardees

Thomas Elliott
Nanyang Technological University

Mile Gu
Nanyang Technological University


Jayne Thompson, Centre for Quantum Technologies; Felix Binder, Nanyang Technological University

Project Title

The role of quantum effects in simplifying adaptive agents

Project Summary

Whether it's a predator tracking their next meal, or a seed waiting for the right conditions to blossom, the key to survival in nature lies in making appropriate decisions based on present stimuli and past experiences. All living things continuously monitor their environment, devoting resources to store and track relevant information so that they can anticipate how each of their actions might affect the future. Interactions between such agents drives an evolutionary arms race, where they must devote ever-increasing resources to survive in increasingly complex environments. Could the drive for survival motivate adaptive agents to harness quantum effects? In this project, we approach this question by interfacing elements of complexity and quantum science. The former allows us to identify the resource costs for agents to adapt to various complex environments, and the latter to reduce this cost below classical limits when such agents are capable of processing quantum information. Such discoveries can have profound consequences: they uncover the means for designing quantum machines that can adapt to and thrive in their environment, while simultaneously illustrating that evolutionary pressure may well favour life capable of quantum reasoning.

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