# Unsolved Problems in Mathematics and Quantum Computing: A Conversational Exploration with Scott Aaronson

Scott Aaronson: The Greatest Unsolved Problem in Math 🔗

## - 00:00:00 Introduction

In this video, Scott Aaronson, a professor of Theoretical Computer Science at UT Austin, discusses the greatest unsolved problem in mathematics. He touches on various topics including free will, consciousness, complexity classes, superdeterminism, and quantum computing. The conversation delves into the true meaning of quantum supremacy and challenges popularized notions. The host, Curt Jaimungal, welcomes Aaronson and emphasizes the channel's commitment to providing in-depth and rigorous discussions on mathematics, physics, artificial intelligence, and consciousness. Aaronson shares his interest in computational complexity, which stemmed from his desire to create video games as a teenager and his subsequent realization about the nature of programming.

## - 00:02:27 Turing universality & computational efficiency

Scott Aaronson discusses his journey in computer science and his interest in theoretical aspects of programming languages. He delves into the concept of Turing universality and computational efficiency, highlighting the P versus NP problem as one of the greatest unsolved problems in math. Aaronson also touches on his shift from artificial intelligence to quantum computing and the interplay between physics and computer science. He discusses the complexities of proving algorithm efficiency and the inherent limitations of algorithms, drawing parallels to Alan Turing's work.

## - 00:12:35 Does prediction undermine free will?

In this video, Scott Aaronson discusses the potential conflict between prediction and free will. He raises the question of whether a machine could predict his actions faster than he could make them, and how this would affect his sense of free will. Aaronson points out that the existence of such a prediction machine could deeply shake his belief in free will. He also emphasizes that the ability to go against the predictions of such a machine would be a crucial aspect of free will. The possibility of building a reliable prediction machine is discussed in relation to the known laws of physics, and Aaronson suggests that this is an empirical question that remains unanswered.

## - 00:15:16 Newcomb's paradox

In this video, Scott Aaronson discusses Newcomb's paradox, which involves a superintelligent predictor that can foresee a person's actions. The paradox presents a scenario with two boxes, one with a known amount of money and the other with a variable amount. The predictor's ability to accurately predict people's choices raises questions about free will and rational decision-making. Aaronson proposes a resolution to the paradox, suggesting that the predictor effectively creates a second instance of the decision-maker, leading to a complex analysis of decision-making and causality. He also touches on the concept of non-cloning in quantum mechanics and its implications for the existence of such predictors.

## - 00:23:05 Quantum information & no-cloning

In this video, Scott Aaronson discusses quantum information and the no-cloning theorem. He explains that in quantum mechanics, not even information can be copied, unlike classical information. He delves into the concept of qubits and how their states are described by complex numbers called amplitudes. He also discusses the interference phenomenon and its implications, as well as the non-linearity of quantum transformations, proving the no-cloning theorem. Additionally, he mentions computational irreducibility and its connection to the Newcomb's paradox.

## - 00:33:42 Chaos & computational irreducibility

In this video, Scott Aaronson discusses chaos and computational irreducibility in the context of modeling systems. He explains how some systems, such as the orbits of planets, can be predicted accurately due to their simplicity, while others, like the weather, are highly sensitive to initial conditions, leading to diverging predictions. Aaronson explores the implications of this phenomenon for free will and new predictors, suggesting that making accurate predictions about an individual's actions would require an intricate understanding of their brain at the neuronal level, which may be practically impossible. He also touches on the concept of chaos in time travel scenarios and the challenges of predicting the firing of individual neurons in the brain.

## - 00:38:33 Brain duplication, Ai, & identity

In this video, Scott Aaronson discusses the philosophical and empirical aspects of brain duplication, AI, and identity. He explores the idea of duplicating a brain or creating an accurate copy of oneself, questioning the threshold at which a copy could be accepted as a new version of oneself. Aaronson also delves into the concept of quantum teleportation and its implications on identity and reality, discussing the implications of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.

## - 00:46:43 Many-worlds, Copenhagen, & Bohm's interpretation

In this video, Scott Aaronson discusses the interpretations of quantum mechanics, including the many-worlds interpretation, Copenhagen interpretation, and Bohm's interpretation. He explains the concept of measurement in quantum mechanics and the implications of considering the function of wave as real. The video explores different viewpoints on the interpretation of quantum mechanics, including the potential role of cosmology in understanding when a measurement occurs. Aaronson also discusses the possibility of a new fundamental theory of physics to explain quantum mechanics.

## - 01:03:14 Penrose's view on quantum gravity and consciousness

In this video, Scott Aaronson discusses various perspectives on quantum gravity and consciousness, particularly focusing on Penrose's view. He explores the concept of incomputability and the challenges of establishing a preferred interpretation in quantum mechanics. Aaronson delves into the implications of different interpretations, such as many-worlds theory and Bohmian mechanics, and the difficulties in deriving probability distributions in quantum mechanics. He also discusses the mathematical basis of quantum mechanics, including the use of complex numbers and the challenges of using real numbers or quaternions in quantum mechanics.

## - 01:14:46 Superposition explained: misconceptions of quantum computing

In this segment of the video, Scott Aaronson discusses the misconceptions of quantum computing, particularly the misunderstanding of superposition. He explains that the idea of a quantum computer trying all different solutions in parallel is incorrect and leads to unrealistic expectations about its usefulness. Additionally, he delves into the challenges posed by quaternions and octonions in quantum mechanics, highlighting their non-commutative and non-associative properties and their implications for physics and mathematics.

## - 01:21:33 Wolfram's physics project critique

The video features Scott Aaronson discussing various topics related to math and physics. He touches on Wolfram's physics project critique, IIT, and the P versus NP problem. Aaronson expresses his objection to Wolfram's project, stating that it does not explain known phenomena of quantum mechanics. He also discusses the problem of quantum gravity and Wolfram's proposed solutions, emphasizing the challenges in reconciling quantum mechanics with classical automata. Additionally, he mentions the implications of Conway and Kochen's "free will theorem" in the context of quantum mechanics. Aaronson concludes by questioning Wolfram's predictions for scalable quantum computers.

## - 01:31:37 P vs NP explained (complexity classes demystified)

In this video, Scott Aaronson explains the P vs NP problem, which is a fundamental question in complexity theory. He discusses P as the class of problems that can be solved by a conventional computer in polynomial time, while NP is the class of problems where a solution can be verified in polynomial time. He provides examples of problems in both classes and delves into the implications of P being equal to NP. He also touches on the concept of quantum supremacy and its potential impact on computational complexity.

## - 01:53:40 Classical vs quantum computation

In this video, Scott Aaronson discusses the comparison between classical and quantum computation, highlighting the challenges of quantum computing and the advancements made in simulating quantum experiments using classical computers. He also explores the concept of quantum supremacy and the potential future implications of quantum computing, including the development of error-corrected, programmable quantum computers. Additionally, he addresses the difficulties in scaling quantum computing and the ongoing quest for achieving quantum error correction. Finally, he touches on the topic of consciousness and his criticisms of the Integrated Information Theory (IIT) in relation to the challenging problem of consciousness.

## - 02:03:25 The "pretty hard" problem of consciousness (critiques of IIT)

In this video, Scott Aaronson discusses the problem of consciousness and critiques the theory of integrated information. He mentions that while the theory presents a quantitative measure for consciousness, he finds it to be useless and even considers it pseudomathematics. Aaronson provides examples of systems with high integrated information that are not conscious, suggesting that the theory's predictions are flawed. He also refers to a group of philosophers and neuroscientists who have labeled the theory as pseudoscience. Aaronson concludes by emphasizing the difficulty of the consciousness problem and the challenges in finding a satisfactory answer.