SETH LLOYD QUOTES

professor of mechanical engineering (1960- )

Bits of ignorance are like viruses that are copied and spread by interaction.

SETH LLOYD, Programming the Universe

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It's not a fantasy to explore this question about making computers that are much, much, more powerful than the kind that we have sitting around now -- in which a grain of salt has all the computational powers of all the computers in the world.

SETH LLOYD, interview, Edge

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By separating the function of adaptation from the function of maintaining the integrity of individual genes, sex allows much greater diversity while still keeping genes whole. Sex is not only fun, it is good engineering practice.

SETH LLOYD, Programming the Universe

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Nothing in life is certain except death, taxes and the second law of thermodynamics. All three are processes in which useful or accessible forms of some quantity, such as energy or money, are transformed into useless, inaccessible forms of the same quantity. That is not to say that these three processes don't have fringe benefits: taxes pay for roads and schools; the second law of thermodynamics drives cars, computers and metabolism; and death, at the very least, opens up tenured faculty positions.

SETH LLOYD, Nature, August 26, 2004

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It's hard to build large-scale, general-purpose quantum computers. I hope that we can cross that hurdle soon and build general-purpose quantum computers with hundreds or thousands of quantum bits. But the most important hurdle is in our own understanding. Unless we can understand how the world processes information at a quantum level, we will remain in the dark.

SETH LLOYD, interview, American Scientist, 2006

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When it comes to their capacity to screw things up, computers are becoming more human every day.

SETH LLOYD, Programming the Universe

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Something else has happened with computers. What's happened with society is that we have created these devices, computers, which already can register and process huge amounts of information, which is a significant fraction of the amount of information that human beings themselves, as a species, can process. When I think of all the information being processed there, all the information being communicated back and forth over the Internet, or even just all the information that you and I can communicate back and forth by talking, I start to look at the total amount of information being processed by human beings -- and their artifacts -- we are at a very interesting point of human history, which is at the stage where our artifacts will soon be processing more information than we physically will be able to process.

SETH LLOYD, "How Fast, How Small, and How Powerful?"

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The primary consequence of the computational nature of the universe is that the universe naturally generates complex systems, such as life. Although the basic laws of physics are comparatively simple in form, they give rise, because they are computationally universal, to systems of enormous complexity.

SETH LLOYD, Programming the Universe

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Science consists exactly of those forms of knowledge that can be verified and duplicated by anybody.

SETH LLOYD, attributed, The Clock and the Arrow

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The original sexual revolution was a tour de force, a huge success that came from what at first glance looks like a bad idea. Why bad? Because it risked losing valuable information. A successful bacterium, reproducing asexually, passes on its exact genetic makeup (absent the occasional mutation) to its offspring. But if an organism reproduces sexually, its genes are scrambled with those of its mate in order to produce the offspring's genes, a process called recombination. Because each half of this offspring's genes came from a different parent, and because of the scrambling process, no matter how successful either parent's unique combination of genes, the offspring's genome will not be the same as that parent's. Sexual reproduction has never passed on a full winning combination intact. Sex messes with success.

SETH LLOYD, Programming the Universe

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For hundreds of millions of years, Sex was the most efficient method for propagating information of dubious provenance: the origins of all those snippets of junk DNA are lost in the sands of reproductive history. Move aside, Sex: the world-wide Web has usurped your role.

SETH LLOYD, "Move Aside, Sex", The Edge Annual Question--2010: How Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?

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Science has an uncomfortable way of pushing human beings from center stage. In our prescientific stories, humans began as the focal point of Nature, living on an Earth that was the center of the universe. As the origins of the Earth and of mankind were investigated more carefully, it became clear that Nature had other interests beyond people, and the Earth was less central than previously hoped. Humankind was just one branch of the great family of life, and the Earth is a smallish planet orbiting an unexceptional sun quite far out on one arm of a run-of-the-mill spiral galaxy.

SETH LLOYD, Programming the Universe

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Quantum mechanics is just completely strange and counterintuitive. We can't believe that things can be here [in one place] and there [in another place] at the same time. And yet that's a fundamental piece of quantum mechanics. So then the question is, life is dealing us weird lemons, can we make some weird lemonade from this?

SETH LLOYD, "A Quantum Leap in Computing", NOVA, July 21, 2011

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Meaning is like pornography, you know it when you see it.

SETH LLOYD, Programming the Universe

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Some folks think life and technology and mind can keep expanding forever. Others say it can't. We are still not clear on that.

SETH LLOYD, "Life, the Universe, and Everything", WIRED, March 2006

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Quantum mechanics is weird. I don't understand it. Just live with it. You don't have to understand the nature of things in order to build cool devices.

SETH LLOYD, attributed, "Seth Lloyd on quantum computing", Inside the Box

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When you zap things with light to build quantum computers, you're hacking existing systems. You're hijacking the computation that's already happening in the universe, just like a hacker takes over someone else's computer.

SETH LLOYD, "Life, the Universe, and Everything", WIRED, March 2006

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Programmed by quanta, physics gave rise first to chemistry and then to life; programmed by mutations and recombination, life gave rise to Shakespeare; programmed by experience and imagination, Shakespeare gave rise to Hamlet.

SETH LLOYD, Programming the Universe

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It's recently been discovered that actual living systems such as photosynthetic bacteria in plants are using funky quantum weirdness techniques to make energy transport in plants and bacteria be much, much more efficient. It was kind of a drag because, you know, we discovered all these cool quantum techniques, and then we found out, whoa, these bacteria have been doing it for a billion years! Well, they didn't publish, so it's okay.

SETH LLOYD, "A Quantum Leap in Computing", NOVA, July 21, 2011

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[With quantum computers] you can calculate how many bits are in the universe, how much energy it takes to flip them, how much energy exists, and use that to rule out lots of things about the universe's history. Anything that takes more bit flips couldn't have happened.

SETH LLOYD, "PopSci Q & A: Seth Lloyd Talks Quantum Computing and Quoogling", Popular Science, November 4, 2011

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