A race into the future
Microsoft and Google are investing billions in the race to develop a quantum computer which will change not only our technology but will also impact the development of the species by opening up a path to a quantum era. The processing power of quantum computing will dwarf the power of digital operating systems.
We look back at previous civilisations and think that they were so basic in their technology. And when we don’t get how they did some of the stuff they did, like the pyramids in Egypt or the temples in Mesoamerica, we go and attribute that to alien technology (the answer is usually slavery and the power of religion).
In the not so distant future, people will look back at digital technology and think it was not so smart after all. Digital is just binary, noughts and crosses, on silicon, programmed to do things. But when we enter the quantum age, we will take evolutionary steps.
Although revolutionary, the fundamentals of quantum technology are already hardwired into the human psyche. When a fully functional operating system based on quanta data rather than digital is eventually created, it will just be a logical extension of our habitual way of looking at things.
Digital technology is a sophisticated advance on transistors with algorithms bolted on. In the digital world, things are either on or off. If on, something happens. If in an off state, something else happens. This is the basic principle of the digital environment that uses programmes and databases, to bring us Whatsapp, cellular technology and computers. Digital data, however, is limited to its binary origins. In philosophy, this is known as the duality conundrum.
Life through a human lens
Humans experience life as binary or dualistic. Us and them, here and there, alive or dead, threatening or non-threatening. Computers are still fundamentally the same. But quantum processing takes duality to a paradigm-shifting different level of technological sophistication.
In the quantum world
Particles exist not only in binary states but are also in different material states. So a quantum can be either in a particle state or a wave state depending on whether it is ‘off’ or ‘on’. And what determines the state is whether the quantum is being observed or not. In other words, if there is a witness, the quantum acts as a particle. Otherwise, it is a wave. This observer or interacting agent does not have to necessarily be human. A robot could operate a computer just as efficiently as a human – perhaps even more so. And to complicate things and baffle the mind further, quanta exist as probabilities which in turn can be possibilities. This opens the door to the fifth dimension of possibilities and a further dimension of the outcome of these possibilities.
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One plus one = ?
A new human experience
Essentially quantum computing operates in a totally new immersion of the human experience, one in which humans are not needed. The current model of humans, described as homo sapiens, may well evolve into another species or enter a new evolutionary phase. And such is the power unleashed by the quantum technology a hundred thousand years of evolution could be squeezed into a few decades of change.
The Bionic Man and Woman
Lee Majors was the bionic man on TV back in the 1970s. The definition of bionic is the ability to self generate and we look at the body as a place to work on bionics. We already have some very intelligent prosthetics which use digital technology but nothing bionic. However, just recently, a new type of smart bacteria was developed using Artificial Intelligence. Or more precisely one type of bacteria was designed to use AI and change its RNA in response to a threat. That is bionic. Bionic bacteria – sounds a little sinister.
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It costs a whole chunk of money
The research into quantum technology will cost hundreds of billions and investors will want a significant return on their investment. The yachting industry is a microcosm with a limited number of suppliers and a relatively confined space to test this new technology. Engines and navigation systems can be built on a quantum level with self-maintenance carried out by robots. Many functions of the crew can be robotized with the captain and chef and stews working purely on quality control. The yacht itself will be a quantum artifact, a logical creation with its own thought processes connected to a dimension of extended possibilities. The yacht itself becomes an extension of the owner’s mind in another dimension that exists only on the yacht.
Beam me up
This may seem a bad case of sci-fi overdose but why would Microsoft and Google pump so much money into research into quantum technology if this was not a realistic outcome. As Einstein said you cannot solve a problem with the same mindset that created it. And how would you explain to a medieval peasant that one day you would be able to speak to someone on the far end of the world in a place that nobody knew even existed?
Knowing what was not known before is the very essence of discovery.
The quantum computer is the holy grail of technology – it does not exist outside the realm of the imagination and a few not very efficient prototypes. Some scientists say it may take over a hundred years to evolve this type of knowledge. Current technology is a better indication of the type of computing technology that will soon be available to a superyacht in a short time frame. Summit, now the world’s most powerful supercomputer, performs calculations at an unprecedented speed: with a peak performance of 200,000 trillion calculations per second—or 200 petaflops, Summit is eight times more powerful than the previous top-ranked system, Titan. For certain scientific applications, Summit is capable of more than three billion billion mixed precision calculations per second, or 3.3 exaflops.
Summit will provide unprecedented computing power for research in energy, advanced materials and artificial intelligence (AI), enabling scientific discoveries that were previously impractical or impossible.
However, as Michio Kaku, the American particle physicist and TV science pundit has suggested, the current state of digital technology may represent a ceiling for the human race and any significant quantum leaps in knowledge may be several generations away. In which case, our oceans by then maybe a swamp of plastic detritus and nobody in their right mind will want to go yachting.