New Scientist magazine's 15 November edition features a "Big Idea" essay by IIIS faculty Mile Gu, and Vlatko Vedral from the University of Oxford. In the article, titled ‘Zen and the art of Quantum Complexity,’ Gu and Vedral detail how quantum theory can redefine our understand of what is complex, and in doing so, give new insight on why reality is ultimately quantum mechanical.
“Even information from quantum experiments is recorded in a "classical" way– in words on a piece of paper, or as a series of 0s and 1s on a computer. Why then is nature ultimately quantum mechanical?” they posed.
The essay was inspired by the World Economic’s Forum’s ‘Meeting of New Champions’held in Tainjin, China this September, and attended by professionals, politicians and entrepreneurs. A common pressing issue was the importance of modeling complex systems – for such systems governs everything from the economy the design of efficient cities.
What are the simplest models, the one that explains these phenomena with the least extraneous causes?
In the essay, Gu and Vedral asked if this preference to explain more things with less drive quantum theory? They highlighted that simplicity holds universal appeal. In the words of Isaac Newton, ‘We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances.” Meanwhile, recent research indicate that the simplest models, even for classical data, was quantum mechanical.
"To a person capable of storing and processing quantum information, the universe could look far simpler. This offers a new paradigm, where our notion of complexity ultimately depends on the information theory we use," write Mile and Vlatko in the article.
“Einstein once said that God does not play dice,” they state, “In answer to Einstein, we could say that god might play dice because of a love of for simplicity too.”