Friday, October 21, 2011

Apologies to xkcd

There’s a sci-fi staple that I haven’t seen or heard in a while, it feels to me, and that is the notion of quantum computer. In the shared experience we tolerate (re: reality), all quantum computing entails is the capacity for a computer to say “it could be both zero AND one”, instead of the current “it must be either zero OR one” mentality. Such a computer could take longer to process some things (it has 50% more possibilities to work with), but could solve other problems in much fewer steps.

In science-fiction, quantum computers get a bit cooler. They take their definition of “quantum” from the idea that all options people don’t choose in life exist in other realities. This kind of quantum computer observes those other realities and, taking a set of definitions from its user, can actually predict the outcome of a situation, and even recommend actions toward optimum benefit. Does this sound familiar to anyone else? Give it the stock reports from the past week, it’ll tell you how to make 50,000% return in one afternoon of trading. Are pirates invading your home with the aim of abducting you and your cat to hold for ransom? If you have a quantumly-smart phone, you just describe what they look like and what order they burst in and your phone can tell you how to either sneak out and steal their car or go all Batman on their asses. In short, sci-fi Q.C.s could activate god mode in a person’s life.

I was thinking about this and a few side-thoughts came up. First was that this Q.C. would have one huge, critical blind spot, that is it would not be looking at its own reality. Presumably, the best reason our Q.C. could comprehensively observe these realities is because it exists outside of them. That being the case, this position would mean it could not examine any data that was not entered in by its user, itself vulnerable to bias, error, and its own limited perspective. This means that any output from the Q.C. is applicable only to a certain point for its user. For example, I could ask for the ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe, and could get one, but if the realities it searched just happened to be silicon-based instead of carbon, I would probably not appreciate the resulting cookies as much as the Q.C. thought I would. Not to mention I would need to get a government license to legally buy a few of the ingredients, but whatever.

Simply by observing the scope of the multiverse, we would remove ourselves from it. Much like the camera man and the mosh pit at a concert, we can either be in the thick of things ourselves, or we watch everyone else have fun. We can’t have both. Taking it to another level, this means that in another reality, one with its own Q.C. that can look into the whole of the multiverse, it would not be able to look into ours. Why? Because we already took ourselves out of the multiverse by having the audacity to want to look at other realities.

It is common knowledge that the most comprehensive opinion is the one that comes from outside. Such an opinion has risen in value over time because it has so often been proven correct, if occasionally unwelcome. It’s why doctors and judges are made to remove themselves from cases whose outcomes might affect them directly. But the power to control such weighty things as health or freedom comes at the cost of being able to stand with one’s own when they need connection the most. In the case of doctors or judges, very often there are others that can act objectively so those of us with friends in need don’t have to act, they can simply be there for each other. Does the same apply to factions of the multiverse? Can we add ourselves back in after grasping the power to watch and learn from others, trusting another universe to wield the same power in a way that won’t hurt anyone?

I normally see such trains of thought accompanied by comforting stick figures. I hope their lack didn’t make the above too painful.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Here's that shorty I was talking about last update. This was typed using QuickOffice Word on a Droid Bionic with SwiftKey X. Between the breaks and "editing", this took about an hour and a half to write. One typo was corrected after moving it from the phone. It came from a joke exchanged at the comic book store that I wanted to explore just that much more.

The cold was biting again, and would bite for some time yet. It wasn't concerned. The snow had blessed it just a short time ago with its cushioning depth. The kin would benefit as the season passed and it went from loose powder to protective shell. For itself, the powder would be best loose, just for a while longer.

The tree waited. Reliably, dutifully, the savage walked into the forest. It tracked the savage as well as it could through the snow's coverage. The savage was as regular as the season. The tree had felt the screams of the kin as the savage followed the snow to fell one post-sapling tree every year. They all felt the screams, it corrected.

It felt the savage approach. It was to be the savage's chosen this cycle, and it rejoiced. It delighted as the savage prepared to take the first bite. This bite was not like the cold, it would penetrate faster than anything the tree might have imagined. It remembered the screams of the kin-that-were when, over the course of a thousand insignificant bites, each tree fell. The silence that followed was always louder still.

The tree allowed the savage one bite. Before the tree could register the pain, it flailed its upper limbs and blinded the savage with its accumulated powder. Distracted, the savage never saw the tree's lower limbs whip into his soft, watery flesh.

Heavy red rain stained the alabaster snow directly beneath, when the tree noticed that same rain would not color its ageless needles. It felt sacred bathing in the savage's sap, and while the shock of the single bite spread through its trunk, it started to sing.

Happy Holidays.

Monday, October 3, 2011


I got a new phone the other day. The last time I upgrades cell phones, I got a Blackberry Storm about two months before the Storm 2 came out. This time I promised myself I'd get something that - while it WOULD go out-of-date in side a few months, that just the nature of the beast - it wouldn't be out-of-date for a long time. Hence, the Droid Bionic.

Not being very experienced with Android phones, I have been poking at prodding like a young boy might a full-figured mannequin. The Bionic is much more responsive and rewarding. Angry Birds and the Amazon app have been downloaded and get good use. I found one game, Alchemy, that I have gotten at least one friend* angrily addicted to. I've ordered a cheap case, and mean to install a mount so I can get all GPS-y up in this. It's like I'm catching up with the rest of society.

Another friend* got me into SwiftKey, a third-party keyboard which I immediately gravitated toward over the stock program. I'm still not completely used to it yet, and since the only way will be with practice, I aim to write a short story on this little piece of tech. The results shall be posted here. Should I time it? I'll figure it out.

*I don't use friends names NOT out of shame of or for my friends, but because I want to provide them the option of anonymity.