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I was thinking of a lifeforms that would have a brain more similar to that of a quantum computer than an ordinary brain. I was thinking the brain would use something similar to qubits that could be in superpositions of states instead of or in addition to braincells.

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  • $\begingroup$ That this has actually occurred and describes the function of our actual brains is a live hypothesis, though not a super credible one. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mind $\endgroup$ – SudoSedWinifred Jul 16 '17 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ I have no doubt that the answer is 'Yes' and may already have effectively occurred, but how valid such an answer may be is likely to depend upon semantics: to what extent and in what terms can a brain (normal or otherwise) be differentiated from a computer (analogue, binary or quantum) and how do you measure similarity between the two? I think this is of greater importance than the detail of how either actually works. $\endgroup$ – Lee Leon May 18 '18 at 11:18
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There's theoretically nothing preventing it, but we don't know how it would be done. One of the requirements for a quantum computer is to keep the qbits in coherence with each other. So far we are not aware of any way to do this at reasonable temperatures. The first quantum computer, the D-wave had to operate at a frigid 0.2 kelvin. Just last year there was a breakthrough that let us operate a quantum computer at 1.0 kelvin. That's a far cry from the 293.0 kelvin that is room temperature, or 310 kelvin which is the temperature of the human body.

Again, there's nothing theoretically preventing it, but we haven't discovered any mechanism by which it can occur. There's even people who claim that our brain is a quantum computer, though they have had little luck explaining the mechanisms in a way that is accepted by the scientific community at large.

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  • $\begingroup$ Most of space is naturally very cold, (close to the temps you mention?) But evolution would likely not proceed at those temperatures. What it there were a region where there was somehow a frequent interaction between the very cold regions and the evolution-friendly regions. Could a worm hole allow for such evolution? $\endgroup$ – BlueMonkMN Apr 21 '16 at 21:50
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    $\begingroup$ @BlueMonkMN It'd be an interesting plot to explore. Space is warm compared to quantum computers (2.72 K), but its certainly close enough to entertain the "what if it could work" questions. The tricky part would be how to provide the evolved creatures enough control over the cold region without accidentally warming it up. At those temperatures, nearly every action you do raises the temperature notably. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Apr 21 '16 at 23:37
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There is a "heretical" school of thought which says it is inconceivable that evolution has not already caused neural networks to take advantage of quantum computing in some way. And we really do not understand how brains work. So we cannot categorically state that the quantum processes of thought are restricted to local chemistry of single molecules in synapses, although that is the majority view.

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    $\begingroup$ Quantum Computing is exceedingly fragile, requiring literally no interactions besides those that are supposed to take place. Blood flow alone would be enough to destroy it. $\endgroup$ – PyRulez Apr 22 '16 at 2:34
  • $\begingroup$ Quantum computing as engineered by humans is fragile. But the catalytic effect of enzymes is only explicable by quantum effects distributed over a large bio-molecule. Enzymes evolve. So maybe a neural net is exploiting a quantum effect distributed across the structure we call a synapse? Which we do not fully understand, and much less so a whole brain or consciousness. $\endgroup$ – nigel222 Apr 22 '16 at 8:52
  • $\begingroup$ enzymes are much smaller than neurons, let alone neural nets. $\endgroup$ – PyRulez Apr 22 '16 at 11:03
  • $\begingroup$ And neurons are much smaller than most of the quantum computer prototypes operating in labs. Quantum coherence or lack of is far more complex than size. $\endgroup$ – nigel222 Apr 22 '16 at 15:37
  • $\begingroup$ Most prototypes have the main quantum computer at the size of atoms (like, 5 atoms). $\endgroup$ – PyRulez Apr 22 '16 at 18:27
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I assume you are familiar with Quantum Biology. If not, you might want to check these papers/comments from a few years ago: Quantum Biology and Physics of life: The dawn of quantum biology.

Some people even wonder whether "Is Quantum Biocomputing ahead of us?" in terms of quantum computing (asked in the currently-in-beta QC-SE). You might find some background on the realistic possibilities of quantum processes that employ biomolecules in my answer to that question. Of course in a sci-fi context things could be stretched quite a bit further than in reality...

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