Why you must get to the bottom of qubits, North Korea and global warming

Topic: Don’t leave the big issues such as global warming, nuclear war and quantum computing to the experts

Advice: learn qubit programming to understand the perils, as well as make yourself an invaluable resource in the coming crypto wars


Do you think Kim Jong Un will let one loose or won’t he?

Will the water level rise fast enough to affect you?

How should you plan for the advent of quantum computers?

It’s all too easy to just resign from even trying to address big issues like the ones above; “That’s for the experts”

However, the mindset you should apply is that every expert started out as a helpless newborn. Often they were still as clueless as you when they were teenagers. Then at some point they refused to be daunted and simply started looking into things.

“nuclear EMP”


Elon Musk, e.g., picked up a book on rocket science and soon realized it’s just a matter of metal, ceramics, rubber and some basic mechanics and physics. Now he’s planning to colonize another planet.

Richard Feynman thought he was too slow to ever make a real contribution to physics. He actually just happened to invent a new symbolic language for quantum mechanics as he found the conventional mathematics too complicated.

I’m not saying you should aim for the US presidency, a Nobel prize, creating the new Amazon, Google or Tesla. What I am saying is that whenever you are interested in or fascinated by a subject, you should make a real effort to understand it.

“Feynman diagram”


Take global warming for example.

Is it us humans, or is it he solar cycle or some other variables that are causing it. Is global warming even a thing? Most are content with noting that 97% of all scientists subscribe to the “fossil fuel burning causes global warming which will make extreme weather much more frequent, as well as cause the water level to rise” theory, and that’s that.

But why not spend an hour a day for a month going through the evidence as if you were writing an essay for school, i.e., see for yourself instead of parroting others. You might not reach a conclusive answer but you’d know where the uncertainties lie. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll be that person who contributes real value to the issue.

What about geopolitics?

If North Korea detonates a nuclear bomb in the worst possible place, they can fry uncountable computer systems and cripple the world’s financial system in ways we can hardly imagine. So will he or won’t he? Should you prepare for it? How? Perhaps you don’t want to live in a certain city for the long term, perhaps you need some emergency physical silver and gold, perhaps you should keep a generator and fuel at a bug out location…

I’m not saying you should, I’m saying you should do the math yourself. Make a mind map over the important countries, authorities, organizations and leaders. Consider things like currencies and trading patterns, energy dependence, debt, gold, similar historical developments and other factors you find relevant. Search for articles and books on the matter and spend some real time thinking hard about stuff that matters to you.

Sounds hard? What’s 20 hours, or 100, of exciting detective work and puzzle solving compared to endless social media news flows or TV?


The most acute threat of all — quantum computing

I’ve just recently realized that quantum computers could render all internet encryption obsolete.

Every single piece of information that’s online would be wide open. That includes all your messages, documents, photos, videos, bank and trading accounts and so on. Your Memopal or Dropbox backups would be theirs. Your bank account too.

But where are we really in terms of quantum computing and qubit programming? How likely is it we’ll get large scale quantum computers? If so, when? Who will get them and what will they be used for (except benevolent research and simulation of weather, fusion reactors, protein folding etc.)

Well I’m certainly going to find out, just as did with cryptocurrencies (I read the whitepaper, Princeton’s textbook, talked to local experts, bought some Bitcoins for myself, made transactions and so on).

If quantum computers hold water, it could be the next big thing.

Sure, the blockchain might become linked to everything, fusion reactors could become really hot in a few decades, nanotechnology is no small thing and could change everything from the bottom up, gene mapping and editing promise much longer and healthier lives, robotics and AI could automate away all human troubles while creating some new and possibly disastrous ones…

However, quantum computing might be closer in time, might be the enabler for all the other technologies and not least might wreak much more havoc with your personal finances and security in the short term.

On the upside, similar to my advice to start a blockchain consultancy firm, if you start learning about quantum computers now, and get in early on the completely new coding techniques, you could become an as invaluable as scarce resource for any company or authority looking to make use of this new paradigm in computing.

 

Reading up on quantum computing

I do admit that this Wikipedia article on qubits looks a bit daunting at first. And this one on quantum computing is even more dense, but give yourself a few hours to read it ten times and decode it bit by bit, I’m sure things will become clearer. Here is a link to an article about IBM’s quantum computer, that anybody can access and program online. Finally, here is IBM’s online forum (IBM QX) for quantum computing.

And this article from 2016 deals with creating and maintaining qubits inside diamonds (here is an easier read based on the article in Nature).


Summary — Quantum Computing could mean your absolute ruin… or success

These are my three cents today:

  1. Don’t be part of the worthless echo chamber. If you’re going to discuss global warming, don’t just be a believer or denier, be an understander
  2. Be practical, research things that might matter to you and where you could make a difference — either for the field or for yourself by taking appropriate measures
  3. Quantum computing could be the key to the most important technological innovations in human history. A qubit programmer could be the most valuable resource in the world for some time. You owe it to yourself to understand when and how quantum computing might become an enabler for you — or a threat.

P.S. Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter (meaning you don’t have to access my site or keep track of when I publish new posts)


P.P.S. While you’re in a self-improvement mood, check out my friend Andrian’s “30 Challenges” here (affiliate link)

What to do when AIs beat us at everything, even reason?

Topic: Computers vs. humans, regarding reason, creativity, intelligence and consciousness

Summary: Very few humans exhibit clear signs of the above traits, and even those aren’t very good at it


Echo chambers of flesh

What is creativity? Writing a song, a book, directing a movie? I’m not so sure, since it’s all based on previous work anyway, just sampled, copied, emulated, or distorted.

Some doubt computers can be creative. I wonder if humans can be. Actually, not long from now, I suspect AIs might consider humans non-creative echo chambers of flesh. Very slow ones.

 

Emotional scientists

The other day I listened to an interview with professor Dan Sperber (author of The Enigma of Reason), in which he detailed his theories of the evolution of reason, its utility, flaws and likely roots. On thing in particular struck me: human cognition is so riddled with biases that reason typically can’t be used for uncovering hidden truths of nature.

Typically we arrive at a conclusion based on emotion and stipulation; and then go about proving that conclusion with “evidence” found through various aspects of confirmation bias.

 

Reason is social

Sperber theorized that reason is mainly a social tool — a tool to build trust and rapport, by providing agreeable “reasons” for a view, an opinion or a favor asked. Reasoning and reasons aren’t there to uncover and understand truths about reality, they’re there to show we are social. Showing reason, providing reasons are for demonstrating whatever we do or say is not just a whim, that the action or we aren’t dangerous and unreliable… since it’s built on reason.

To me, it simply sounds as if humans can’t reason. At least not that many of us and not very well.

But, guess who can. Or should I say what? Artificial Intelligences. They won’t be burdened by biases but can propel their knowledge base and themselves with the scientific method based on pure unencumbered hard logic and reason.

 

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Why some drive on the left and others on the right

Way back in the UK, riding a horse on the left side showed you clearly held no dagger in your right hand

But later on in the US, it was more important to sit on the left side of the wagon to whip the oxen with the right hand; and thus more practical to drive on the right side of the road

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AIs can do away with irrational historical baggage like that and build their society from scratch.

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Strong General Artificial Intelligence is no longer a fringe idea

Recently distinguished astronomer sir Martin Rees said at a big astronomy conference “if we want to find intelligent extraterrestrial life, look for some kind of artificial organisms”.

He’s right of course. We’ve had digital technology for just about a century and we’re already experimenting with robots, artificial intelligence, nanotech, biotech etc. — trying to meld man and machine. Within another hundred years, I’m certain we will have brain enhancement implants. With time we’re likely do do away with most, if not all, of our biological heritage. Will it take a hundred years? A thousand? I don’t know, but my guess is rather sooner than later. Cosmologically, a few thousand years are equivalent to the blink of an eye. Consequently, for all practical purposes we will be a digital race for all of our existence.


Final thoughts

Neither reason, nor creativity are exclusively human domains, perhaps not even human domains at all. AIs promise to be not only smarter, but also exhibiting true creativity and pure reason. Now, is that something you could be interested in merging with?

They might even solve the big problem trifecta of the universe, life and consciousness. If so, maybe they can explain to us how it all began, how life came about and how consciousness arose, and whether humans are conscious and have free will or not.

Sometime in the future, asking a SGAI if it can “improve on the issue with global warming” might very well be like asking a human to help with the “pencil on the floor” problem if one happens to roll off the desk.

So, why is this important? Why should you care?

Mostly just because it’s interesting in itself, but also as the path from here to there has implications for your career and life. You need to start thinking about how you will adapt to advancing technological capabilities, how you can take advantage of it, and not least avoid becoming collateral damage.

 

Predicting the future, one small step at a time – for happiness, relevance, work and investments

Summary: I’m not writing about, or predicting, the future, I’m asking you to do it, mostly as a brain exercise, forcing you to actually think

Length: very short


So, you doubt the Singularity* will happen?

[* the technological Singularity, when one generation of tech improves the next generation in such a rapid pace that normal humans can’t keep up]

Then, why not make your own prediction.

Start with one technology or piece of hardware or software you’re familiar with. A cellphone, e.g., or glasses, TV, internet, cars… Extrapolate what that tech will look like in the future. Never mind how far into the future. Take it one step at a time and imagine what the next iteration will look like, and the next, and the next. Again, disregard the time aspect, and focus on the generations. Don’t forget to take into account that whatever that piece of tech turns into with enough iterations, it can be used as a tool for improving and accelerating other tech areas.


Where do cell phones get you in a hundred significant iterations? Computers? How big, how fast, how competent? Where do they go, how are they powered?

Keep doing that for cars, planes, space ships, contact lenses, software, computer games and movies, 3D glasses, brain implants, artificial agents and so on.


You might not be an expert in any of these fields, but consider what an AI can do in the future if it’s already mastered Chess, Jeopardy, Go and Poker. Where does Crispr-Cas9 gene editing take us in a hundred iterations? Robots are currently stumbling around in Alphabet’s labs, but what will they be doing in a thousand years?

When, if ever, e.g., will a team of robots beat the best team of soccer or american football players? In 2050? Sooner? Later? Never?


Do your best at imagining the future piece by piece, and please tell me if you see a hard stop anywhere. If not, the Singularity will happen. Sir Martin Rees, a distinguished astronomer, has suggested that genetically and cybernetically enhanced humans/cyborgs on Mars could be the first artificial intelligences.


We can already build simple nanomachines, edit genes and create artificial life. There are brain implants controlling neurodegenerative diseases, there are eye implants making blind see (low res for now, but with Moore’s law it won’t be too long before they can see better than ordinary humans, and a wider spectrum of light).

I see a very bright future, a future where we can widen our intelligence, and live to the fullest. Others see a dystopian scenario of obese and non-thinking human remnants merely being tolerated by the only intelligent life on earth, AIs. Yet others see nothing at all, since we’ll soon destroy the Earth before being able to leave.


Where do you see yourself in a world of AI and AR?

While you’re at it, where do you see yourself in that future? Not just the end game, but the transitional period in getting there. How will you and your children create a rich and meaningful existence in the coming 25-50 years?

  • How will you educate yourself?
  • What will you work with?
  • How do you plan your investments?
    • Stocks?
    • Bonds?
    • Gold?
    • Real estate?
    • Crypto currencies such as Bitcoin?
  • What will governments look like?
  • How will laws evolve?

Where’s your worth when power shifts from governments to tech giants, when cryptocurrencies make current tax regimes impossible to enforce? How do you plan to stay relevant in the future, a future where technology might be able to do everything you can do… for free?