Thinking of the Universe as a Quantum Computer

July 17, 2013, 20:00 lecture


On July 17 the Digital October Center provided a web lecture featuring a leading researcher from the MIT electronics laboratory, author of the popular science book Programming the Universe, which suggests viewing the universe as a big quantum computer, and Professor of Mechanical Engineering Seth Lloyd.

The lecture was part of the Forecast for Tomorrow cycle, which focuses on the future of science and technology and was developed by a team from the educational project Knowledge Stream in conjunction with IBS.

Seth Lloyd explained:

  • why the universe can, in fact, be considered a quantum computer, what it calculates, how many operations it has completed since the Big Bang, and when it will reach its capacity ceiling
  • why the computing universe automatically generates complex structures, including life
  • how familiar computing systems such as iPhones might be capable of a kind of free will


Lloyd calls himself a “quantum mechanic,” as the majority of his career has been dedicated to creating a scientific base for developing quantum computers and communication systems. He has also spent significant time looking for methods to provide for the accurate operation of such computers even when chance mistakes occur.

In suggesting a way to create a fully-existent device, Seth came to the conclusion that the fact that man is capable of building a computer using quantum particles as information carriers means that the world around us is not a chaotic assortment of particles, and is instead one huge quantum computer containing approximately 10123 bytes of information. Not only that, but all of that could speak to some kind of owner — why not?

Going back, he suggested that it is possible to find space for the universe in a “normal” quantum computer, beginning work on the problems associated with building a theory of quantum gravitation (the lack of such a theory means that creating a similar model is so far impossible) as well as the issue of quantum teleportation.

As he studied that last topic he, along with a group of colleagues, came to an unexpected conclusion, one that will facilitate time travel, though they will not be able to change the past no matter how hard they try.

To learn more about the lecturer and the topic, please visit this page.


669 show Eugene
Professor at The Niels Bohr Institute, Executive Member of Russian Quantum Centre
666 show Michael
Professor, Principal Researcher at P.N.Lebedev Physics Institute
667 show Vladimir
Principal Researcher at Physics and Technology Institute
662 show Igor
Director of IT, IBS

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general partner


series partner


intellectual partner of this lecture

Russian Venture Company

supported by

Russian Quantum Center


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