πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ Qubit Barrier

IBM have created an eagle | an infrastructure bill! (but for surveillance) | How now brown DAO?

πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ Qubit Barrier

Greetings internet chums β€” I type to you today through tired eyes. Full disclosure: I'm drowning in client work because I want to go on a really nice holiday where people serve me cocktails directly to my hotel suite while I watch The West Wing on repeat. So, if there are any spelling or grammar errors in today's post, please blame it on the crushing weight of capitalism and not me, the one who is being crushed.

This week was sort of okay I guess? πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ I just don't know anymore β€” things that sound good often turn out bad, and things that sound bad are just part of the status quo so you don't really notice them. It's a MEAN TRICK.

Scroll woefully downwards to discover:

  • The crusty old white man in charge of the USA now has a penchant for smart cities
  • A DAO failed at buying a piece of paper; the world continues to meme itself at an alarming rate
  • The qubit barrier β€” BROKEN. It's gone; shattered; obliterated β€” but what does it mean?

πŸƒ The faster computers get, the slower humans get at preparing for the singularity

Let's start with something light and non-technical: IBM have just spat out a 127-qubit quantum processor. These processors are meant for quantum computers, which are something that I explained earlier this year, when Google claimed to have created a time crystal.

Confused yet? Then we have something in common! The key point is: qubits are the most foundational units of measurement in a quantum computer. Normal computers use bits, and a bit has two possible states: 1 or 0. A qubit has three possible states: 1, 0, or both. This means that quantum computers are roughly a billion years faster than normal computers.

Until now, technologists have only managed to fit 100 qubits into a quantum processor. So, if true, IBM's claim to 127 qubits is record-breaking. Context: most normal computers only use 32 or 64 normal old fashioned bits.

So, what's the point in a quantum computer? Hahahaha no β€” no one has bothered asking that. They've been too busy developing the technology. You know, just to see if they could do it? Turns out they can. This is why IBM are using vague language like "unchartered computational territory" and "a new era". It's NEW and UNKNOWN so it must be good?

🌬️But, the harsh wind-chill of reality should not be ignored: putting all the boring technical milestones aside, quantum computers are just really really fucking fast computers.

  • One thing we often forget about computers is that they are not 'clever' but just faster than we are. E.g. humans can technically break encryption, but it would just take ages, and a lot of humans.
  • That's why we design cryptographic puzzles that would even take machines a billion years to break (no one has that kind of time).
  • But non of this applies to quantum computers; they're are so fast that they could break our current methods of encryption in minutes

So while technologists are all measuring each others dicks over quantum computers, we should also be having a big brain storm about what kinds of things quantum computing will simply make irrelevant β€” traditional encryption is one thing, but what about the training of giant AI models at high speeds, for large-scale purposes? What will it do to crypto if you can suddenly mine blocks at a fraction of the speed? THINK ABOUT IT.


πŸ™οΈ No need to question a city when it's... smart

Okay, in the US, here's the key difference between how democrats and republicans use technology: the republicans announce new policy ideas on Twitter, and the democrats champion drone strikes and surveilling their citizens. This is the key way I distinguish two parties β€” it's really useful.

Anyway, Joe Biden has now signed a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, with $500 million allocated to smart city projects, or: Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART). Okay but what about DUMB? Don't Underestimate the Mindless Bullshit (of smart cities).

This money will be used on things like autonomous vehicle infrastructure, smart traffic signals, and testing surveillance technology on poorer communities who don't have the knowledge, power, or time to fight back.

πŸ€” My questions about this are as follows...

  • Why have we resigned ourselves to the idea that smart cities are synonymous with progress? Can't we improve our lives without using data-driven services to power trains?
  • What the hell is a 'smart traffic signal'? Don't we already have those? E.g. have traffic experts not spent years designing traffic lights so that we don't all crash into each other or spend hours in traffic jams? I'm pretty sure traffic jams are caused by the fact that there are too many cars, and not the lack of 'smart signals'. Obvious solution: stop using cars.
  • This brings me to my final question: do we really need autonomous vehicles for individuals?? Do we??

Ultimately, smart cities may contain useful things (like trains that are actually on time and not over-crowded? Idk), but useful, convenient things these days usually run on one thing: user data. Personally, I'm tired of this. I want my data to stay inside my body where it belongs, and my public infrastructure to be slightly shit, just like it's meant to be.


πŸ‘‹ Ciao DAO

Alright look: I know I complain about the crypto community a lot but this is getting ridiculous. They literally just formed a Decentralised Autonomous Organisation (DAO) just so they could bid on, and win, a copy of the US constitution. Was this a digital copy? An NFT? NO β€” it was just a real-life physical object; a document that outlines the laws which are upheld by a central government. Why would crypto bros care about this? Well because they're idiots, obviously.

You don't really have to understand what a DAO is to appreciate how silly this all is, but basically a DAO is a group of people (could be strangers) who form an organisation. The organisation is built on a blockchain: it's purpose is therefore transparent, and hard-coded into smart contracts which do all the decision-making until told to stop.

Anyway, this DAO's function was to buy a copy of the US constitution, no matter how much it cost. The founders of the DAO (two rich finance guys in their 20s), set up a Discord server to rally people together (yes, just to buy a stupid piece of paper), and managed to get 8,000 members within a few days, who raised $43 million in a week.

🀑 The result? They lost. In other words: a large part of the crypto community just spent $43 million on doing absolutely nothing. They had the money and time to get people excited to organise together and GIVE MONEY to a cause β€” but they did all of it for a dumb, stupid auction.

People who engage with cryptocurrencies and the β€” potentially interesting and useful β€” DAO framework in this way are greedy, self-serving, buckets of scum, who deserve to be shot into the crushing void of space.

On that light note, in case you haven't seen it yet, someone created The Pirate Bay, but for NFTs. No more right-clicking for you!

Thank you for reading β€” sorry that I was day late again!

From your BOF (Best Online Friend)


πŸ’Œ Seeing as you're at the end of this week's Horrific/Terrific, I guess you enjoyed it. Please express gratitude by donating money to me so I can keep doing this. You can share opinions/submit news stories any time on my Twitter or email.