What can we really expect to see on the horizon?
“We want Google to be the third half of your brain.”
— Sergey Brin
There are two converging roads that are on the cusp of coming together to create somewhat of a big bang in terms of our place in the universe (the sense of the term universe being restricted to our observable reality). Some may call it the singularity, some may define it as a kind of revolution or evolution; personally, I don’t think we can even anticipate what it’ll look like — the most that can be done is to try and understand the roads that we’re on now and, from here, attempt to gauge where it is exactly that these roads may be leading us.
The one road, winding, forking, and fraught with perplexing dead ends, is that of quantum science. Already over a century old, quantum mechanics have redefined our conceptualization of reality and proven to take us (or maybe more specifically, technology) to the next level of sophisticated existence.
Quantum mechanics have been seen as the precursor to a digital evolution like none we’ve experienced so far, and Google has been in and out of headlines of late for gunning towards fanatical firsts like quantum supremacy in the context of quantum computational power. But this is about more than that.
The field of quantum physics holds vast potential over our heads in terms of understanding everything we know about the world — about how time works, how possibility emerges or collapses, how we can or do or can’t exist. The answers to some of the most iconic quantum physical questions are so incomprehensibly tremendous that the only application, or the only means by which they can be transcribed, may through artificial intelligence itself.
Which brings us to the second road.
A little more freshly paved, the road of the digital revolution has been evolving away since the dawn of the first IBM’s. Technology has allowed us to take one step closer towards becoming our own personal Gods (Neil Gaiman gets it), as we flirt with tantalizing concepts like uploading our consciousness to cloud networks or augmenting our flesh and brains with mechanics and software. Who needs real reality when we can go virtual? Who cares to learn when we can simply update?
Convenience, ease, speed, efficiency, possibility.. We’re in hot pursuit towards roboticizing ourselves and virtualizing our realities for a laundry list of reasons that range from mastering our own worlds to simply speeding up processes. Good? Bad? It seems far too early to be pessimistic or optimistic.
Technology has come to form a hefty part of our collective self-identity, with many minds now half-expecting us to roll out the red carpet for artificial sentience to take over as we resign ourselves to conquering digital realms rather than seeking answers through the infinitely black waters of the cosmos. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re in store for some kind of melancholic or noir future. Sci-fi just loves to tickle our fear receptors.
“There’s decades of innovations ahead. We’re at the very beginning, where it’s just at the stage where we can bring in consumers [but] there’s so much further to go from there.”
— Brendan Iribe
What to really expect at the future convergence of these two roads?
We can see the glory and marvel of technology, backed by the unthinkable potential of quantum science. Quantum computing algorythms can blow the roof off of any potential held by our own collective and squishy intelligence; digital assistance can make almost every labour-intensive task obsolete.
And so what are we left with?
Well, for one, we’ll likely find ourselves in a flattering cycle of synergistic development— quantum science will help technology and technology will help us. Towards what end, however, remains to be determined.
This cycle will evolve faster and faster at an exponential rate to bring us closer towards what many are calling a singularity. To fantasize about this point is worthy of a separate post entirely.
The more practical benefits are hard to imagine right now because they ought to be thought of on a scale of volume and speed rather than pure novelty and innovation — though there will be no shortage of innovation. Problem solving in every sector from finance to weather; information technology and security; data mining and strategic analysis.
Perfect financial strategics to ensure a healthy retirement; flawless resource allocation; statistical research optimization; predictive capabilities in every sector of life. The benefits are infinite, so much so that they can’t even be expressed with accuracy.
Incorporating these benefits into ever-dynamic and versatile forms of wearable tech, smart devices, forms of digital assistantry and user-friendly mechanisms — that’ll be the bridge. Our fridges will be able to determine fermentation timelines of all that’s inside; our windshields will do more navigating than we do; our clothes will be able to monitor and advise on our physiological states. Hospitals, police stations, universities, banks, farms — we may be looking at infinitely more efficient systems in place spanning across all sectors.
Then we have the philosophical side, whereby we seek ontological clarification regarding our purpose, meaning, and origin. We’ll be able to simulate molecule processes and other life-explaining experiments, exploring the natural world like never before, mapping our genealogy in unfathomable ways, understanding genomes, solving archaeological paradoxes, deciphering geological events.
From the practical to the theoretical, quantum science will be the hyperfuel that we inject into technology to take it to a whole new level, which, upon reaching that level, will allow us to prosper like never before in ways totally unimaginable.
“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” — Albert Einstein
Will we get too carried away? Too lazy or naive? Too comfortable? Probably. Are we going to lose our semblance of humanity as we over-technologize our existence? Maybe. But we’ll also advance at a such an exponential rate in terms of our progression as a human species that these concerns may just pale in comparison to the real rewards and discoveries that we may ultimately cultivate.
At the convergence of quantum science and technology, we’ll see a true realization that we, as a human species, have evolved to a new echelon of civilization, reaching the precipice of undiluted potential and infinite prospect. That, to me, seems worth it.
All Rights Reserved for Michael Woronko