Quantum Gardening

Amanda Baum, Rose Leahy, Rob Walker

(collaborating with Jeremy Adcock and Sam Morley-Short)

How can we imagine a future where the quantum turn has transformed quantum computing from a tool of classical acceleration into a genuinely new epoch?

From our early conversations we found the proposed uses for quantum computing – breaking cryptography, building new cryptography, quicker data traversal, faster machine learning – offered to accelerate classical computing problems. The language around the work, supremacy, efficiency, effectiveness reinforced a monological instrumentalist path. Coming as quantum laymen the differentiating of quantum mechanics from quantum computing took time.  Eventually we got how illogical, weird, counter-intuitive, time-bending, mind-bending and magnificent the quantum world is. When such wonders are channelled into making quicker calculators we see another illustration of an old struggle, the field and the forest, agrilogistics and permaculture.

So we are asking, if quantum computing is a field of potentials, how do we garden it? Quantum Gardening approaches the philosophical problem of how we know what inter-relations to observe and how often. In quantum computing, as in gardening, the balance between control and letting grow needs to be a learnt and intuitive act. Gardening becomes both metaphor and method for the future use of quantum computers.  

Below are images from our first prototype presented on March 1st.

In this first materialisation of our ideas, we created an installation juxtaposing a highly ordered classical italianate palace garden with a quantum view. By presenting the classical as a large easily viewable projection we placed it as the norm, the easily accessible. Through a hole in the projection, a magnifying lens showed the same garden distorted by data from a quantum random walk simulation built with our collaborators at Bristol Center for Quantum Photonics.

Moving forwards we are excited to continue exploring quantum mechanics and computing from an ecological perspective as well as collectively developing a common language across disciplines.

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Photo credit: Amanda Baum and Jeremy Adcock (the chip)