Artificial Quantum Life on the IBM Q Cloud Quantum Computer

Physicists in the QUTIS Quantum Biomimetics and Quantum Artificial Life research group at the Department of Physical Chemistry, University of the Basque Country in Spain have harnessed the unprecedented power of the IBM Q Cloud Quantum Computer—recently made available for public use (IBM makes 20 qubit quantum computing machine available as a cloud service)—to reproduce the hallmark features of Darwinian life and evolution in microscopic quantum systems, proving they can efficiently encode quantum features and biological behaviors that are usually associated with living systems and natural selection.

The fundamental features of evolution captured in the system include interaction between individuals, self-replication, generational adaptation, and heritable mutations conveyed through the transfer of entangled quantum information. The self-replication mechanism employed by the researchers is based on two partial quantum cloning events—an operation that entangles either the genotype or the phenotype with a blank state, and copies a certain expectation value of the original qubit in both of the outcome qubits.
The final ingredient is the interaction between individuals, which conditionally exchange the phenotypes depending on the genotypes. This behavior is achieved via a four-qubit unitary operation, where genotypes and phenotypes play the role of control and target qubits, respectively. The conjunction of these components leads to a minimal but consistent Darwinian quantum scenario.
From the report:

Quantum Artificial Life in an IBM Quantum Computer

We present the first experimental realization of a quantum artificial life algorithm in a quantum computer. The quantum biomimetic protocol encodes tailored quantum behaviors belonging to living systems, namely, self-replication, mutation, interaction between individuals, and death, into the IBM cloud quantum computer. 
In this experiment, entanglement spreads throughout generations of individuals, where genuine quantum information features are inherited through genealogical networks. As a pioneering proof-of-principle, experimental data fits the ideal theoretical model with accuracy.
Thereafter, these and other models of quantum artificial life—for which no classical device may predict its quantum supremacy evolution—can be further explored in novel generations of quantum computers. Quantum biomimetics, quantum machine learning, and quantum artificial intelligence will move forward hand-in-hand through more elaborate levels of quantum complexity.
The researchers foresee a rich field of investigation arising from the confluence of quantum and natural life:
The creation of these quantum living units and their possible applications are expected to have deep implications in the community of quantum simulation and quantum computing in a variety of quantum platforms. All in all, the experiments presented here entail the validation of quantum artificial life in the lab and, in particular, in cloud quantum computers, as that of IBM. 
Still another interesting step would be the development of autonomous quantum devices following the theoretical and experimental results in quantum cellular automata. Our quantum individuals are driven by an adaptation effort along the lines of a quantum Darwinian evolution, which effectively transfer quantum information through generations of larger multiqubit entangled states. We believe that the presented results and vision, both in theory and experiments, should hoist this innovative research line as one of the leading banners in the future of quantum technologies.
The same research group published the report Artificial Life in Quantum Technologies last year:
We develop a quantum information protocol that models the biological behaviors of individuals living in a natural selection scenario. The artificially engineered evolution of the quantum living units shows the fundamental features of life in a common environment, such as self-replication, mutation, interaction of individuals, and death. We propose how to mimic these bio-inspired features in a quantum-mechanical formalism, which allows for an experimental implementation achievable with current quantum platforms. This result paves the way for the realization of artificial life and embodied evolution with quantum technologies.


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