A quantum computer can perform millions of calculations simultaneously. It has been suggested that such a device would be able to simulate paradoxes in science that occur on a scale so small that they are impossible to observe within nature.
In 2003, University of Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom proposed that there are three possible futures for the human race:
- Civilization collapses before developing technology capable of creating a believable simulation of reality.
- Civilization exists long enough to create technology capable of creating a believable simulation, but chooses not to use it.
- Civilization exists long enough to create technology capable of creating a believable simulation, and chooses to use it. In this scenario, multiple simulations would be run, which implies that it’s more likely that we are currently living within one of those simulations as opposed to living within the lone base reality.
We understand the forward motion of time through the thermodynamic arrow. That means disorder increases over time, which is one of the reasons why we can’t travel backwards into the past. The toothpaste can’t go back in the tube. We remember where we have been but not where we are going, because the trajectory of the psychological arrow mimics the asymmetrical nature of time.
An IBM quantum computer recently created a simulation illustrating that with a tremendous amount of manipulations within an environment, it would theoretically be possible for a single elementary particle to go backwards in time for one millionth of a second. The conditions required for this to happen are extraordinarily unlikely to occur in reality.
The allure of this theoretical model is that it offers respite from the real, it affords all of us the luxury of believing that there might be some chance that our transgressions might be reversed, our victories repeated, our most absurd fantasies realized in a place that lies just beyond our understanding of what is possible. Or maybe this is all just a practice run.