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.
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.
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.
Summary — Quantum Computing could mean your absolute ruin… or success
These are my three cents today:
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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P.P.S. While you’re in a self-improvement mood, check out my friend Andrian’s “30 Challenges” here (affiliate link)