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Tech Gestalts 3: The Matrix is Here

This week, we’ve got three tech-toys that go together (at least in my deranged imagination), to create a world so much worse than the World Without Privacy I talked about before: a world without free will, at least for the unlucky SOB’s that are dumb enough to volunteer for this crap. Or it may just let you pilot a super-shark through hurricanes, cutting wicked aquatic kick-flips of toothy awesome.

On the 21 September 2012, Australian engineers announced that they had built the backbone of the Matrix: a quantum computer chip. Actually, it’s a qubit (quantum bit) made from a phosphorus atom and grafted to a silicon computer chip. The transistor is actually so small that the electrons in it have to move in a damn Conga line. With tiny bursts of microwaves, scientist can control the phosphorus electrons’ movements, kind of switching it on and off from 0 to 1. With

The cool thing is that the previous quantum computer chip was made inside a freaking diamond, which may not be the most cost-effective way of speeding up your processor. The new model is a silicon chip like what’s already residing in your overpriced Mac, between your barely-read novel and your fancy-sounding coffee substitute. Unlike your Mac, the quantum chip will have a positive effect on your coolness, at least once your friends find out you can now calculate the air-speed velocity of a European Swallow carrying a coconut from the tropics to England in an alternate universe where coconuts evolved spikes and Swallows are the size of Pterodactyls. Because that would be cool. They’re predicting these chips will be commercially available in a very short time, though that’s usually science-speak for “not before we come up with something better.”

If you were Superman, this is what it would look like

Add to that the quantum teleportation technology teams of people with nothing better to do have been working on for years. This basically takes the aforementioned qubit, and entangles it with another one so that their quantum states are now forever linked. It then launches the shit out of the second cubit with a laser I only imagine is powered by the summoned spirits of Carl Sagan and Tesla. How far does it launch it? The recent test sent it to another computer 89 miles (143 kilometers) away. That’s very nearly the exact distance from the surface of our little green and blue golf ball to a Low Earth Orbit satellite.

Technically satellites

As soon as the quantum state of qubit A is altered, the quantum state of qubit changes to match, immediately, with no regard for that “speed of light” speed limit. Not only do quantum mechanics mean it’s impossible to intercept any information sent, but you could in theory link endless computers via different pairs of entangled qubits into a massive, instantaneous computer network, all feeding back to satellites that fed back to the ground computers in the area.

Mix that shit with processors made with the first entry in this article, and presto chango, the world’s communication network will never have lag again, or have to worry about encryption. It can  effectively control the simulations and the machines of the Matrix Trilogy flawlessly. So if you start seeing pods popping up around you, New Zion is totally not being built under my house at all.  It could also perfectly run all the online games.

For those of you who still play MMOs, take a second to get a towel. For those of you with a criminal bent, this network also means no FBI intercepts on your illegal download the 40th Annual International Infant Juggling Tournament.

But, to all bright days there’s one damn cloud that just won’t stop drifting over the sun occasionally. Usually there’s like 20 million of the damn things actually, but today we’re just worried about one. Other mad scientists have replaced parts of a rat’s brain with a computer chip that functions as a cerebellum, restoring motor function to what I guess was otherwise a Stephen Hawking mouse.

To quote Francesco Selpulveda, a hilariously named University of Essex engineer on the project: “This demonstrates how far we have come towards creating circuitry that could one day replace damaged brain areas and even enhance the power of the healthy brain.

Enhance. The. Power. Sign me up, Sepulcher-Guy. As it is, I can barely twirl a pencil. With this thing storing all your motor function information (they effectively downloaded how to blink straight in to the test mouse’s head), we could totally recreate that scene from the Matrix where Neo downloads Kung-Fu. Or even better, skillsofts- the temporary skill downloads from Shadowrun. Dr. Macabre-Name then goes on to explain that the replacement chip receives it orders directly from your brain stem (unlike most people’s mouths, which skip the brain altogether), and that eventually they’re going to start testing on critters bigger than what a mouse trap can get to. Now picture how much better this little brain enhancements would be if they were quantum. You know, like what we talked about earlier.

Though they say it’ll be a decade or so before humans can get this thing, I’m foreseeing two logical outcomes here:

  • A future of horse and tiger-riding awesome, controlled by the quantum processor installed in their brains, directed by the video-game like controls of your cellphone, or…
  • The much more realistic idea of guard animals, like attack dogs, and spy critters, embedded with quantum chips, controlled by security professionals and soldiers from afar via the quantum communications network, doing our dirty work. It’d be like some kind of macabre version of Star Fox Assault, except the team doesn’t want to be fighting and is actually silently screaming in their skulls as you steer them into enemy fire.

Of course, the worst possible outcome here is for people like me. You know how I said “sign me up” for super motor-control enhancing metal stuck in my brain? Only rich assholes and people who sign an eternal contract with the military, a major corporation, or Satan (he’d probably be most lenient) will be able to afford it. Assuming I find a company that values dirty jokes and crotch-punching (which I have actually done professionally, believe it or not) enough to slam a computer into my cranium, what’s keeping my new overlords from one day hitting the control switch on me like the above attack dogs? Their high standards of morality? Yea, that’ll be the day.

On the other hand, maybe throwing that override in is a little too pricey for their budget makers, and what we’ll really get is a world where enhanced motor control lets me type so fast they have to measure by pessimism in SpS (Sarcasms per Second), while my satellite-linked brain constantly downloads patches and updates to make sure my shiny new motor skills stay SotA.

If you want my honest opinion though, it’ll probably be more like this:



Josh Snow is a skeptical transhumanist and some-time freelance writer. He’s fairly sure he’s going to accidentally get turned into a  bio-drone one day.  Until that time, follow him on Twitter @ArkangelWinter, unless his drone handlers have already taken it over.

  1. 31/10/2012 at 7:07 am

    WOW!… You have blown my mind… 0.0

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