Is a quantum computer able to simulate an artificial universe like The Matrix or is that technology not advanced enough?
closed as primarily opinion-based by L.Dutch♦, Youstay Igo, Vylix, SRM, Vincent Sep 16 '17 at 22:37
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Maybe. But that's the same maybe as if you would have asked "Is a non-quantum computer able to simulate an artificial universe like The Matrix".
As of now, it's unclear in which areas quantum computers will be able to significantly outperform non-quantum computers. Factorization is currently the only operation we know quantum computers can outperform what we currently can do non-quantum computers. And that's only in the theoretical sense -- the record for quantum computer is factoring 21 = 7 x 3 "with a high degree of confidence". And it took a significant time to do this factorization.
For anything other than integer factorization, we don't have quantum algorithms which are significant faster than non-quantum algorithms.
So, the answer to "can we in the future simulate a universe with quantum computers" can be any of:
- No, just like we cannot with non-quantum computers.
- Yes, just like we can with non-quantum computers.
- Yes, and we never be able to do this with non-quantum computers.
The latter will be the most interesting answer. But as I said, we currently just don't know.
Of course, we can simulate much simpler universes, and we don't need quantum computers for that. Conway's Game of Life is arguably a very simple universe, which we can simulate with non-quantum computers (we can even do this pen and paper).
I love your question! Let's dive in...
There is one huge factor that I'm worried about w.r.t. simulations. Be your computer ever so quantum, it is still basically digital. The real universe is analog in many important ways -- degradation of field strengths over distance, curvature of space, and well, time. I am afraid that no digital simulation can perfectly calculate what would happen.
With enough processing power and good enough modeling, you could get something similar to the universe, but I bet that it would diverge more and more from how the real universe would act with every iteration. This could be a plot point, of course. And imagine if your simulated sophonts deduced from software errors that they were in a simulation, and rearranged local stars to spell out the words "PLEASE DON'T TURN US OFF!" ;D