Stephen Pink, Dartmouth NH; Lancaster University UK

The weekly 'Issues in Cognitive Science' series provides an informal setting in which faculty, graduate students and invited speakers present their current research or plans for future research, and discuss recent journal articles of general interest to cognitive scientists. The 'catered brown bag' meetings take place every other Wednesday, 12-1:30pm, Sage 4101. Many of these presentations may be viewed in our video archiveGeneral information for speakers

Stephen Pink, Dartmouth NH; Lancaster University UK

Sage 4101

September 21, 2011 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM


 This talk will begin with a short definition of quantum computing and a discussion of the reasons why quantum computing has become important to Cognitive Science and the philosophy of mind since Penrose, Lockwood and others have advanced their theories that the brain/mind is a quantum computer. We then attempt to make four points which relate to the foundations and physical realization of quantum computing. The first point is that the qubit cannot be taken as the basic unit for quantum computing, because not every superposition of bit-strings of length n can be factored into a string of n-qubits. The second point is that the "No-cloning" theorem does not apply to the copying of one quantum register into another register, because the mathematical representation of this copying is the identity operator, which is manifestly linear. The third point is that quantum parallelism is not destroyed only by environmental decoherence. There are two other forms of decoherence, which we call measurement decoherence and internal decoherence, that can also destroy quantum parallelism. The fourth point is that processing the contents of a quantum register "one qubit at a time" destroys entanglement.  The talk concludes with a discussion of the plausibility of seeing the brain/mind as some sort of quantum information processor in light of some of the problems revealed in the physical realization of such a machine.

Foundational Issues and Physical Realization

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