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Previous Programs

2018 Agency in the Physical World
Awardees; RFP download

2016 Physics of the Observer
Awardees; RFP download

2015 The Physics of What Happens
Awardees; RFP download

2013 Physics of Information
Awardees; RFP download

2010 The Nature of Time
Awardees; RFP download

2008 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
Awardees; RFP download

2006 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
Awardees; RFP download

Peter Love
Tufts University


Christopher Fuchs, University of Massachusetts Boston; Aram Harrow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Project Title

Quantum and classical Bayesian agents

Project Summary

The basic nature of agency is deeply connected with the ability to possess an internal model of the world. Agency is what distinguishes asteroids moving through space from birds moving in a flock. The birds have an internal model of the flock and they move based on this model. The motion of the flock is a consequence of the agency of the individual birds. The implications of agency for Physics are not always so clear as distinguishing birds from rocks. Typically in Physics we wish to treat everything as a rock, subject to immutable external laws. However, many fascinating phenomena in Physics arise from collective behavior. As in the example of the flock of birds, agency is a useful phenomena for describing collective behavior. How useful can it be? How can we write models for agency in quantum mechanical systems, where collective behavior is especially difficult to understand? In this project we will use tools from quantum information theory to define quantum agents and study their properties and behavior. We hope to gain insights into how agency can arise in quantum systems, and how agency can be used to describe quantum collective behavior.

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