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I, Quantum Robot

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Though the concept of the robot seems to be a modern and a relatively new idea, they have been around for years. The first recording in literature of a possible description of the robot is found in the Iliad in reference to a “a three-legged cauldron that had ears for handles”. Later on, in 1900, we were introduced to Tik-Tok in Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz. The word robot was first used in 1920 by the Czech writer Karel Čapek in his play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots). This would be the first dramatization of a robot under this name. However, robots would come to life and be used for practical purposes in 1962. General Motors was the first company to use a robot for industrial purposes.

Since then, robots have been used in many ways. They have come in all shapes and sizes. They have been used in the medical field, the armed forces, and in the space program.

Now as we face the 21st century, technology evolves more. A new kind of robot is being studied and researched. This robot is called the quantum robot.

The quantum robot is the idea of combining quantum theory with robot technology. In other words, it is a practical use of the combination of quantum computing and robot technology. Quantum computing involves using quantum systems and quantum states to do computations.

A robot is an automated machine that is capable of doing a set of complex tasks. In some applications of robots, the programming used to run the robots may be based on artificial intelligence. Artificial Intelligence is the ability of a computer system to operate in a manner similar to human intelligence. Think of artificial intelligence as if you were training a machine to act like a human. Essentially, quantum robots are complex quantum systems.They are mobile systems with on board quantum computers that interact with their environments. Several programs would be involved in the operation of the robot. These programs would be quantum searching algorithms and quantum reinforcement learning algorithms.

Quantum reinforcement learning is based on superposition of the quantum state and quantum parallelism. A quantum state is a system that is a set of quantum numbers. The four basic quantum numbers represent the energy level, angular momentum, spin, and magnetization. In the superposition of quantum states, the idea is to get one state to look like another.

Let's say I have two dogs. One dog knows how to fetch a bone (energy level), sit up (angular momentum), give a high five (spin), and shake hands (magnetization). Now, let's apply the superposition of quantum states. Since one dog has been trained and given the commands, the other dog must learn to mimic or copy what the first dog did. Each time a command is achieved, reinforcement is given. The reinforcement for the dog would be a bone (or no bone if the command is not achieved).

In quantum reinforcement learning, it is slightly different. The idea would be similar to an “If-Then” statement. An example would be if the quantum state has a certain energy level, then the angular momentum is certain value. This idea of “If-Then” statements in the quantum world leads to an idea which can be a topic of its own; Quantum Logic.

Quantum parallelism simply means that computations can happen at the same time. This allows for all of the quantum numbers of the quantum system to be measured at the same time. If there are multiple quantum systems then; by using the concept of parallelism, all systems can be measured at the same time.

Programs used for “quantum searching” are based on quantum random walks. Quantum random walks use probability amplitudes. A probability amplitude allows us to determine that there is more than one possible quantum state. In the classical world, if you type a word “Quantum” in the search engine, you get many results. You may have a tough time finding a needle in a haystack if you use just one word, but if you want to refine your search; let's say “Quantum Random Walks”, then it narrows the search. The same principle applies in quantum computing to get more refined results. However, you are not necessarily searching for words but you are finding information that may correlate to a quantum state.

What would be the advantages of the Quantum Robot over the Robot?

Quantum robots are more intricate in examining their environments and doing tasks as they apply quantum effects . Because of the complexity in quantum computing, the expectations of the quantum robots would be that they are faster, more accurate, and are able to multitask better than the standard robot.

The quantum robots may be able one day to give us better medical diagnoses and better data interpretation in other research fields such as defense research. In medicine, they may be able to detect pathological changes in the body by being injected through the bloodstream. In the space program, they may be able to examine the delicate environments on other planets. In the military, they may be able to detect changes in the magnetic and electric fields. They may be able to help us detect early warnings of disasters more efficiently.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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