How quantum computing can help predict US elections

Quantum computing is being used to predict US elections. Futurist Isaac Arthur explains how.

How quantum computing will be used to model elections

Dan Patterson, a Senior Producer for CBS News and CNET, interviewed futurist Isaac Arthur about quantum computing and election predictions. The following is an edited transcript of the interview.

Isaac Arthur: We had, in the 2016 model, for instance--regardless of what other errors might've come in during sampling on that--we had models that would predict a Clinton win by about nine-to-one odds. And yet, when they ran those exact same models through--which are much more difficult when you're looking at individual states--every state has a chance to win or lose by so much. These all have to be shuffled together with individual probabilities, and we use approximations to make that easier. 

We don't have to do that with quantum computing. We used an [Unsupervised Deep] Learning model called a Boltzmann machine, which we probably should save for another occasion. That one predicted--using the exact same data and the same general trends--actually showed Trump more likely to win that election by about two-to-one, in some cases, but certainly not 10-to-one against.

SEE: The ethical challenges of AI: A leader's guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

This is an example. You can imagine how many other things we can use this for, in terms of very parallel cases. With the current US system--50 states plus [Washington] D.C.--each one of those wins are toned. You have to pull each of those pieces individually, and so you don't get a very small sample from that. Trying to add those all together on the various combinations and pull mutations becomes very difficult to do on a classic computer. There are just too many scenarios. So we again, we approximate.

The biggest thing about a quantum computer--and you were saying earlier about parallel processing. It's not running a bunch of processes simultaneously; it's running all of the processes simultaneously. Every single option that could be put in that, is simultaneously happening. What we do is try to remove all the ones that we can that we don't want to see, so that we only get the actual desired one that comes through to us, when we look at it.

Watch more interviews with Dan Patterson and Isaac Arthur

Also see

American Flags

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto