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Quantum Computing since Democritus by Scott Aaronson

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4 Minds and machines

Now we're going to launch into something I know you've all been waiting for: a philosophical food fight about minds, machines, and intelligence!

First, though, let's finish talking about computability. One concept we'll need again and again in this chapter is that of an oracle. The idea is a pretty obvious one: we assume we have a “black box,” or “oracle,” that immediately solves some hard computational problem, and then see what the consequences are! (When I was a freshman, I once started talking to my professor about the consequences of a hypothetical “NP-completeness fairy”: a being that would instantly tell you whether a given Boolean formula was satisfiable or not. The professor had to correct me: they're not called “fairies”; ...

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