New research has been published in the Taylor and Francis Journal of New Music Research demonstrating the use of quantum teleportation and super-fast quantum algorithms for an unusual application area – musical jamming.
Quantum teleportation is the ability to instantaneously transmit quantum information over vast distances. For example, Chinese scientists in 2017 teleported quantum information from Earth to an orbiting satellite – over 870 miles.
Now a researcher at the University of Plymouth in the UK has demonstrated the use of such teleportation in a new area: live music performance.
Dr Alexis Kirke, Senior Research Fellow in the Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research at the University of Plymouth in the UK has just published new results showing that a human musician playing piano can communicate with a quantum computer via teleportation.
In the system – called MIq – the quantum computer executes a quantum methodology called Grover’s Algorithm. Grover’s is exponentially faster than any classical computer algorithm, and is used to generate music in response.
Says Dr Kirke, “We actually gave a live performance with this technology a while ago, and it was also streamed live online. But we’re now able to present the underlying technology in our journal paper.”
The quantum teleportation is needed because there is actually no other way to transmit quantum information. “If you tried to transmit it using tradition digital communications,” explains Kirke, “in general it would take an infinite amount of time!” By being able to transmit quantum information, Kirke’s system can Grover’s algorithm to the music-making problem while jamming.
The quantum computer’s musical intelligence is stored as a series of logical equations. Kirke explains, “These can store rules such as: you can’t have too many of the same pitches in the row, or your pitches all have to be in the same key.” Grover’s algorithm can solve these equations many thousands of times faster than any traditional classical computer. “This is obviously key for real-time jamming between human and musical computer,” says Kirke.
Grover’s algorithm was discovered by Lev Grover at Bell Labs in 1996 and was the second main quantum algorithm discovered (after Shor’s algorithm), that gave a huge advantage over traditional computing.
Kirke’s research was tested on two of IBM’s quantum computers. In fact it was the IBM Melbourne – a 14-qubit machine – that was used for the performance. “We did a jam between a human keyboard player and a quantum AI agent, based on the Game of Thrones theme tune!” says Kirke. “As far as we’re aware, it was the first performance between a human and a hardware quantum computer that actually used the quantum advantage.”
Reference: Kirke, A., 2020. Testing a hybrid hardware quantum multi-agent system architecture that utilizes the quantum speed advantage for interactive computer music. Journal of New Music Research, 49(3), pp.209-230.