Every now and then, somebody is amazed at the ever-increasing power of computers to simulate reality. The accuracy of these simulations increases every year, in step with the increase in computing power. This has led some to extrapolate that eventually we will reach the ability to simulate an entire Universe, perhaps even including conscious beings. And if so, what if we’re a simulation ourselves? According to new research, this is, in principle, impossible due to, you guessed it, the most mysterious of phenomena: quantum effects.
It’s been quite some time since the last major breakthrough in computer graphics. For the past few decades, graphics quality has been steadily improving, but this has been mainly due advances in semiconductor technology and secondly due to software evolution. Little has changed when it comes to the way images can be efficiently rendered. Ray-tracing has been around for a while but it is too computationally-intensive to match rasterisation.
At long last, an evolutionary leap might soon be upon us thanks to quantum computing. There are myriad applications for this emerging branch of technology, but one of the most interesting I’ve learned about lately is this fascinating proposal called quantum super-sampling. It’s a process combining ray-tracing with quantum computation. Here’s a (long) video presentation describing the process, by the author himself.