Qubit

Over the weekend, I read an article in The New Yorker about quantum computing. I don’t claim to know anything about anything, but I know this: the idea that computing can be founded on a principle wherein a quantum bit — qubit — can represent both zero and one, instead of one or the other, using atomic superpositioning is fucked up. The article postulated that the entire foundation of quantum computing is predicated on the notion that the Many Worlds Theory is true, which is fucked up. I don’t know if anything in the article is true, but it simultaneously blew my mind and terrified me.

There’s a two-qubit computer at MIT that runs a four-card monte simulation. In standard computing, such a program would require up to three operations — because there are only three nil possibilities; one must be the queen, right? In a quantum computer, the queen can be found in one move. One guess. Because one qubit can represent zero, one, zero-one, or one-zero. I mean, what the fuck?! It looks at the world in a completely different way — a world where the queen is all four cards simultaneously, before announcing, “This is the path,” and it must be right because it’s looking at all four paths as true before selecting the one it deems best as the correct solution. So does that mean a quantum computer is the master of our destiny? If it doesn’t mean that, what does it mean?

Do I need to get an advanced degree in quantum physics just to stop the nagging sensation that we don’t have control over any aspect of our lives, that every possible outcome has created so many billions of tangent universes yet I’m stuck in this shitty one? There are probably billions of other mes that made better choices and are currently happy and carefree, not thinking about the cosmic implications of quantum computing. Am I stuck in this miserable existence because I really made the choices, or am I just a multiverse also-ran playing out the dark consequences of poor decision-making? I’m not blaming quantum physics for my problems. I just wish things were more like The One with Jet Li, where I could leapfrog willy-nilly to 127 other tangent universes, killing all the other mes to gain their strength and become the most powerful warrior alive. It just makes sense.

But why should I be entitled to do that when I’m the one who fucked things up? What right do I have to enter a tangent universe and kill another me that’s probably a better version? If anything, I should willingly allow the better me to kill me and absorb my power. Does that qualify as suicidal ideation, or did I just find a loophole thanks to the magic of quantum physics?

Posted by D. B. Bates on May 9, 2011 12:28 PM