writing chapter 3.2
“Yeah, i’m working on a quantum computer,” Kurt was saying. “There are still a few kinks. But once I’ve got them figured out, videogames will never be the same. Let me explain.” He paused, considering their polite faces. “I know you won’t understand it,” he remarked, “and it’s okay. I’m used to dumbing it down for people.”
“Thanks,” said Anomia. “I like to think of myself as blonde.”
Caroline, lurking behind a potted plant, suddenly walked away to spend some quiet time thinking of her as a naked blonde.
“To begin with, a classical computer bit is either one or zero, so there are two choices per bit,” Kurt said. “But a quantum bit can be one and zero, or any number of states in between. In a classical computer, it seems like you’re doing a bunch of things at once, but it’s really only one step at a time. With quantum computing, you can branch out into parallel universes, and run endless calculations on top of each other.” He sat back, looking happy. “The 64-qubit quantum computer I’m working on will be 18 billion billion times faster than a 64-bit classical computer.“
“Whoa,” Josh said, turning to Anomia to explain. “That means really complex objects, and more of them, and they’d be more dynamic.” She rolled her eyes.
“And you’ll be generating actual random numbers,” Kurt continued, “which will make gameplay a lot more realistic. You’ll have AI and NPCs with much greater capabilities, and they’ll be smart enough to teach you what you needed to know without being asked. Your graphics would be incredibly rich and lifelike. And, oh yeah, you’d never have another security problem.” Kurt reached for his cigarettes and got up. “That’s just off the top of my head,” he said, and headed for the smoker’s balcony.
Josh and Anomia followed him outside. Josh began a long-winded attempt at recruitment, but he was awed by Kurt’s programming chops, and Anomia could see he was never going to come to the point. “We’re need someone to program a game that will give players superpowers,” she said, “and people told us you might be interested.”
“Hell no, they said you were the only one who could do it,” Josh protested.
Kurt considered this, staring out over the traffic. He took a couple of drags and slowly shook his head. “You don’t need me for that. You can do everything you want with a classical computer. It’s child’s play to simulate quantum reality. Most of your superpowers boil down to some version of nonlocality. And that’s a feature intrinsic to classical computers, so you don’t have to look any farther.
They made him explain nonlocality. Otherwise called action at a distance, or teleportation, where an object jumps instantaneously from point A to point B, or entanglement, where two particles separated by as much space and time as you like, still behave as a single unit. “That’s how you accomplish movement in a simulation anyway. You want to fly? Write it that way.”
“No,” Anomia insisted, “we want to do it for real. Everything you can simulate in a game, we want players to learn to do for real.”
“F’real?” he said, taking a long drag.
“We’re not talking about a game that you can fly in, we’re talking about flying in the real world.”
Kurt took another quick puff and ground his cigarette under his shoe. He thought about having another. “A nonlocal real world,” he mused. “That’s a world where everything’s connected. Are you sure you want a fart on the other side of the world to affect the taste of your coffee?”
“You’ve got me,” she said. “But how does being able to fly affect my coffee?”
He shrugged. “Everything’s connected. Mostly we don’t notice it. But if you start enabling people’s awareness of it, you could change everything. In quantum physics, what you expect to find is what actually happens.”
Josh and Anomia exchanged glances. “That’s kind of where we were heading with this,” she replied.