Dissemination and outreach lifting the veil on Perdigão R.A.P. (2022): Quantum Leaps in Complex System Sciences and Technologies, DOI: 10.46337/qites.m211115 (in press).
© 2021 Rui A. P. Perdigão – All rights reserved
Communicated to SIC Notícias, a leading news TV station from Portugal, on 2021.12.13. Author archive in Portuguese: “Saltos Quânticos nas Ciências da Complexidade: do Cerne Físico ao Ambiente e Sociedade“.
Quantum Leaps in Complex System Sciences:
From Core Physics to the Environment and Society
What happens when we combine complexity sciences, information systems, quantum technologies, and natural and social sciences? If each remains attached to their respective conceptual and operational niches, we simply obtain a patchwork of stars. Here we introduce new avenues in frontier interdisciplinary Physics that enable the articulation of these and other stars in a formal constellation the synergistic added value transcends the sum of the individual merits. Be it at theoretical and fundamental levels in the advancement of knowledge, or practical and operational facing multi-sectorial challenges in science, technology, society and the environment.
Our world is a dynamical system embracing a phenomenal diversity of processes and interactions in a complex coevolutionary whole. Discerning and inferring their dynamics requires he collection, processing and analysis of high volumes of information, along with the conception and operation of mathematical models apt to characterise, in a rigorous and effective manner, the coherent, consistent and unifying articulation of the myriad of processes and complexity of their interactions.
The situation becomes ever more fascinatingly complex at the interface among frontier natural, social and technological sciences. Different fields of knowledge, endowed with their respective languages and protocols, the articulation and conciliation of which requires a conceptual and operational structure that takes them into due consideration and detail, without losing the dynamic cohesion and added value of the systemic whole.
This requires us to go far beyond the tradition in which the various fields have been either integrated into an oversimplified manner with information loss relative to crucial details, or articulated into patchworks where the structure and information flow have been inconsistent with the systemic dynamics that they intended to assess and represent.
Paving Emerging Pathways in Frontier Physics
In order to overcome these challenges, and mindful that tradition cannot afford to continue to be what it used to be, the author been developing emerging pathways in the interdisciplinary science of Physics of Complex Coevolutionary Systems and Information, especially within the Meteoceanics Institute and Interuniversity Chair.
This frontier Physics brings out a mathematical formalism that is much more able to articulate numbers and words, equations and emotions, forces and actions, forms and functions, uncertainties and choices in a coherent, integrated and consistent manner. Where complexity is not limited to the edifice of information or ecological sciences from traditional system theories, but rather something much more robust, representative and general. Where the system dynamics emerging from a socio-natural coevolution is endowed with a robust mathematical physical formulation with reinforced descriptive, predictive and explanatory skills. And which has the ability to naturally emerge in a physically consistent, technically effective, ecologically sustainable and socially just manner. Bringing mathematical rigour to the philosophical discussion, and philosophical reflection to mathematical formalism.
From the formal standpoint, a more mathematically robust and solidly operational formulation has emerged for the Physics of Information and Complexity. In which instead of Physics blindly subduing itself to the information sciences and technologies, it gives them further strength and robustness, endowing information with an unequivocal natural physical basis. And with practical and operational added value of revolutionary impact in the information technologies and systems of multi-sectorial analysis, prediction and support.
This robust yet versatile Physics provides a conceptual, formal and operational edifice for analysis, modelling and action to explicitly articulate information in its manifold facets and interactions, among the microscale of individual processes, their multi-scale interactions and the macroscale of the overall system, with a unified and transversal lingua franca.
In doing so, it articulates the knowledge – and flavours – of the various involved fields and contexts, with the natural intelligence emerging from all that exists and manifests itself across our cosmos. Including the chaotic dynamics and associated uncertainties, which also underlie the life of the system and the way we perceive it and communicate with it.
Defying Computational Limits
The exhaustive investigation and operation of processes and interactions in complex systems, be it through traditional models, information technologies, and even the articulation between natural and artificial intelligence forms, invoke vast computational resources in order to comprehensively test and implement all kinds of approaches and applications.
The first impulse would thus be to take advantage of established international infrastructures for high-performance computing. However, those infrastructures still entail the conventional computational paradigm, to which non-trivial processes and interactions are still elusive. This is why generally traditional models, such as those used in climate-related operational services, are unable to resolve fundamental aspects of the dynamics, resorting to rather crude approximations and parameterisations to primitively handle what they cannot rigorously deal with, such as crucial matters related to chaos and turbulence.
However gigantic the implementation and operational resources are for classical computational systems, they are unable to adequately process and resolve the dynamical models simulating phenomenally complex systems such as our planet. The results that they produce are thus beneath a level that acceptably enables the desirable representativeness to discern and simulate with quality and precision what happens and what might happen, and even less to help face the critical challenges of a changing world.
Quantum Leaps in Computation and Prediction
In order to overcome such challenges and limitations, I have launched the platforms QITES – Quantum Information Technologies in the Earth Sciences (also linked to the constellation that I reported here), and ESDI – Earth System Dynamic Intelligence. Thereby allying the assets of quantum technologies with those of Information Physics and Coevolutionary Complexity, along with those of the system dynamic intelligence inherent to the dynamics of planet Earth.
To do so, I began by reformulating the systems of analysis and prediction. Regarding information analysis, redesigning the intelligence systems in order to take maximum advantage of quantum technologies, effectively optimising procedures and quality of the analysis without the concessions that marred the traditional platforms. Regarding prediction, reconstructing the fundamental core of the mathematical formulation governing geophysical models instead of simply squandering the power of quantum computation with the limited classical geophysical formulations.
The added value of quantum computation stems from taking advantage of the underlying fundamental physics, even already in the theoretical an algorithmic formulation per se, and even taking into account the long way to go in the development and maturing of infrastructures and equipment.
The properties of quantum physics bring a differentiating added value enabling to code, process and transmit information through computational protocols involving quantum configurations, with fundamental quantum states of the material constituents at their core, along with their superpositions and interactions. And doing so with high fidelity, robustness and security.
The quantum states and their superposition provide more degrees of freedom than the binary dichotomy used in traditional computing. One quantum unit of information entails more than 1 or 0, yes or no, “on” or “off”. Rather, it admits the coexistence or superposition of states, and an alphabet even longer with which to construct and exponentially scale the capacity to treat information.
The interaction by entanglement among quantum states enables to build structures of entanglement and articulation of information the nature and efficiency of which are beyond reach to traditional technologies. The added values include the potentiation of speed, robustness, reliability and security of the information articulation in networks of computation and communication.
However, the gains are not limited to this. We have been developing even broader formulations of entanglement, involving the nonlinear collective articulation among multiple states. Thus bringing up to the quantum technological sphere some of the aspects until then only conceivable and approachable with the even more general information metrics developed across nonlinear Physics (Perdigão 2017, 2018).
Beyond Quantum, towards the Firmament of Complexity
These advances in the synergy between Quantum and Nonlinear Physics have transcended the limitations of the network paradigms, including those of pre-existing quantum technologies. Thus being able to characterise and process nontrivial multilateral interactions of enormous complexity, such as those patent in intelligence systems, analysis and modelling that we have been developing in the coevolutionary interface among frontier natural, social and technological sciences.
The underlying physical foundations to the essence of information in this emerging form of Information Physics provide us not only with evident gains in terms of computation and operation, but also in terms of phenomenological comprehension of systems with which we work. Being that instead of having nature made of information, we have information made of nature. Instead of the concrete made of pure abstraction, we have abstraction anchored in the essence of the concrete. Something that we can measure, experiment, calculate, interpret, manipulate and use across the most diverse applications, such as the analysis of massive data or the modelling of complex system dynamics with reinforced robustness and natural consistency.
In technological terms, this new physics of information of natural base empowers the collection, processing, storage and exchange of information through natural processes, with nature providing the most sublime platforms for computation and communication, grounded on the most fundamental physics that governs cosmos… and chaos.
In scientific terms, it brings further impulse from the subtlety of quantum gravitation to the galloping thundering of cosmological thermodynamics, through the meands of fluid dynamical complexity that I have introduced in Fluid Dynamical Systems: from Quantum Gravitation to Thermodynamic Cosmology (Perdigão 2017).
From Frontier Physics to the Environment and Society
By embracing the challenge to improve frontier Physics itself at its core, it has become possible to pave the way for the discovery of new principles and new pathways for analysis, prediction and action relative to complex dynamical systems.
In practice, it has become possible to approach in a rigorous and concrete manner crucial matters elusive to traditional models, such as high-impact irregular extreme events that until then were considered to be unpredictable, such as the so-called “black swan” events. And such as critically disruptive events at the structural functional level of system dynamics, e.g. in the coevolutionary dynamics of climatic and socio-environmental systems and in the systems of risk analysis, disaster prediction, early warning and decision support for a robust and expedite prevention and effective assessment of disruptive phenomena.
The platform for analysis and prediction here emerging is not only faster, more robust and effective in predicting phenomena of high environmental and social impacts, but also in providing decision support services for the longer term. Thus becoming not only a means of prediction and early warning, but also for planning and development of business and policy strategies to prepare society for the extraordinarily complex challenges of a planet in critical change.
All in all, taking quantum leaps in the complex system sciences has not solely entailed advancing knowledge and technology, themselves worthy and noble goals. But also develop and provide a robust and unified platform with effective mechanisms to understand, address and resolve complex problems, save lives, optimise resources, reinforce resilience, create value, and in general contribute constructively to the collective journey that we do as a system, as a society.
The sensing technological aspects of Perdigão (2022) were addressed in his outreach communication to SIC Notícias on Taking the Quantum Pulse of the Planet (Tomando o Pulso Quântico ao Planeta), lifting the veil on the namesake chapter (DOI: 10.46337/qites.m211115.qpp) and Quantum Leaps in Gravitational and Electrodynamic Sensing (DOI: 10.46337/qites.m211115.qge).