The Quantum Pontiff

Fraud Fighting Quantum Computers

From Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days by Jessica Livingston, we find a gem of quantum computer’s capabilities in an interview with Max Levchin, cofounder of Paypal:

…Its one of those things where, in the end, fraud is so nondeterministic that you need a human or a quantum computer to look at it and sort of make a final decision…

Fight determinism with determinism, but fight nondeterminism with nondeterminism! I like it! But can you fight determinism with nondeterminism? Why am I now singing “I shot the nondeterminism, and the nondeterminism won?”

(I’m pretty sure Max is waxing poetic here, cus from all I’ve read about him he’s a pretty sharp cookie.)


  1. #1 John Sidles
    July 23, 2008

    Dave, your post does illustrate that computational complexity issues are at the heart of modern economic theory … and moral philosophy too.

    Because does the notion of “free market” made sense—practically or morally—in a world in which Nash equilibria (for example) are expensive to compute?

    The answer pretty obviously is “no” … and this mathematical truth upsets some pretty-well established economic and philosophical ideologies.

  2. #2 Sean Carroll
    July 23, 2008

    Why am I now singing “I shot the nondeterminism, and the nondeterminism won?”

    Because your brain is in a superposition of Eric Clapton and the Clash? (Or maybe Bob Marley and Bobby Fuller?)

  3. #3 Dave Bacon
    July 23, 2008

    Ha, I’d totally forgotten how many times that song had been covered.

  4. #4 JohnQPublic
    July 23, 2008

    Which song? You combined two: I Shot the Sheriff and I Fought the Law

  5. #5 Dave Bacon
    July 23, 2008

    Doh, how did “shot” get in there?

  6. #6 Dave Bacon
    July 23, 2008

    I should just quit while I’m behind.

  7. #7 JohnQPublic
    July 23, 2008

    Dave, do you believe in the Hawking $-matrix? Do you think that the Hawking radiation true?

  8. #8 Jonathan Vos Post
    July 25, 2008

    Do I believe Max Levchin or not? Let mt flip a quantum coin.

    Let A = “I shot the sheriff” and
    B= “I shot the deputy.”

    Then 1-A = “I did not shoot the sheriff”
    and 1-B = “but I did not shoot the deputy”.
    Assume mxing angle theta. Now, for the mixed state, we prepare the singer at “I shot the singer but I did not shoot the deputy” and use inclusion-exclusion as follows…

    By the way, does Alice shoot Bob, thinking that he’d been seduced by Carla?

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