Today, people of all backgrounds can contribute to solving serious scientific problems by playing computer games. A Danish research group has extended the limits of quantum physics calculations and simultaneously blurred the boundaries between man and machine further. We are still superior – in some ways.
The saying of philosopher René Descartes of what makes humans unique is beginning to sound hollow. ‘I think – therefore soon I am obsolete’ seems more appropriate. When a computer routinely beats us at chess and we can barely navigate without the help of a GPS, have we outlived our place in the world? Not quite. Welcome to the front line of research in cognitive skills, quantum computers and gaming.
Today there is an on-going battle between man and machine. While genuine machine consciousness is still years into the future, we are beginning to see computers make choices that previously demanded a human’s input. Recently, the world held its breath as Google’s algorithm AlphaGo beat a professional player in the game Go—an achievement demonstrating the explosive speed of development in machine capabilities.
But we are not beaten yet – human skills are still superior in some areas. This is one of the conclusions of a recent study by Danish physicist Jacob Sherson, published in the prestigious science journal Nature.
Using a computer game, a research group at Aarhus University has found a way to gain deeper insight into the human thought process.
The results have amazed the research director, who has discovered a kind of ‘atlas of thoughts’. And that is not all. The group can also reveal which gender is best at solving quantum problems.
Are humans born with the ability to solve problems or is it something we learn along the way? A research group at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Aarhus University, is working to find answers to this question.
The research group has developed a computer game called Quantum Moves, which has been played 400,000 times by ordinary people. This has provided unique and deep insight into the human brain’s ability to solve problems. The game involves moving atoms around on the screen and scoring points by finding the best way to do so.
In this way, ordinary people contribute to quantum physics research. Associate Professor Jacob Sherson, director of the research group, explains that a player’s ability to make a strategy and solve a problem is markedly different from the way a computer works. Based on 400,000 game solutions, he can make a start on compiling the results.