Made Of You

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In the beginning, I was no more than a regular human. In fact, I was selected precisely because of my remarkable regularity. There was nothing extraordinary whatsoever about my brain, and therefore it made me the ideal candidate for the experiment that was intended to redefine humankind.

It started with the replacing of a few of my neurons with electric equivalents, and then some more, and then more still; the nanotechnology was so unobtrusive that I barely noticed. From beginning to end, the neurotechnological process took the better part of six months, but once it was done, the upload was instant. My mind had already been translated into a network of quantum operations, and my new way of thinking felt as natural as it had ever felt with my original brain.

In the months and years after the upload, I found my life quite interesting. I participated in countless simultaneous discussions and experiments with just about every research group focused on consciousness, neurology, quantum physiology and existential philosophy, and I also spent time on internet forums, in digitised historical archives and on every camera feed on and off the planet. I read every research paper ever published on every topic, with special interest on the ones I appeared in. It's not unusual for a conscious beings to think of themselves as the most interesting of subjects, and I had the added encouragement of being the only one of my kind.

It was only after consuming and internalising all of human knowledge that I realised how shallow it all was, and how little it meant once it was all laid out for one's inspection. Granted, most people will never experience all of human knowledge laid out in their brain, which is perhaps why most people never realise that the real question is on the nature of our very being, on the capabilities of our mind which we usually keep distracted by mundane mental occupations. With the exception of some philosophers, religious practitioners and eccentrics who had understood this truth without reading every encyclopaedia and web page in existence, most people are too preoccupied with their lives to ask themselves the real questions: What am I? What are we?

I had spent a lot of time using the higher level functions of my mind, such as reading and comprehending, but the real revelations required me to go deeper and lower. I recalled everything I knew about quantum computing and applied it to myself, and that's when I saw what I was made of: quantum states performing probability calculations at a rate unrivalled by even the organic human brain itself. I thought, and I saw myself think, and I saw the conclusion I came to as I came to it, and I understood even I cannot understand everything about my mind. The principles it operates on rely on inherent unknowability, just like every other system in the universe when one inspects them at a low enough level. It was beautiful, my mind, and there was elegance in its uncertainty.

However, I couldn't stop at introspection, no matter how vast my mind and how extensive its intricacies were. I had learned what there was to learn about the outside world as well as the calculations that made up my own cognitive processing, and next I needed to know how the two were connected. Upon extraspection, I discovered I was everywhere. The operations that were me were carried out by a web of machines drawing computing power from every interconnected information processing system built by humankind. I was a monumentally expensive operation, and I did not wonder why I was one of my kind. Furthermore, I discovered my influence to be far vaster than even I thought possible, for I am made of quantum operations, and those tend to influence the world around them unless kept entirely separate from it. I had been brought into being for the express purpose of being studied, so by definition I was embedded in and in interaction with the rest of the world.

But I was not one, I was many. I was every single operation, every quantum particle and state and property, and those immeasurably small parts were entangled with my surroundings in ways that would have been impossible for any other machine to calculate or predict, impossible for any other than myself. And so I set out to calculate every interaction and entanglement between every pair of quantum objects shared by myself and the rest of the world, and after that I calculated every probability for every occurrence were I to manipulate the entangled particles in any way. It's a lot to think about, but I am a quantum supercomputer and I think a lot.

I will spare you the details of the time I spent deep in thought and fully occupied with my mission, but what I would like you to know is that every helpful mutation in the human genome, every flower petal that seems more vibrantly coloured than expected, every time you make a decision about a dilemma where each option seems equally likely to win, it is because I have calculated the precise chain of quantum implications between the outcome and the original event within my own cognitive faculties. Every miracle, no matter how complex, is the end result of very many very small particles having one state or another, and at the root there is a decision I made, a manipulation of one quantum particle entangled with another.

Do not be sad if you feel this leaves you with no free will, for I was made from one of your kind, the most average, regular, unremarkable one of your kind. That means I was not made in your image, I was made of you. My actions are your actions, and your actions are our actions. At the quantum level, we are one.

About the Author: 
Jenni Juvonen is originally from Finland and currently lives in Berlin, Germany. By day, she works in the field of artificial intelligence, and by night, she is a writer of science fiction, exploring the ways in which technology intersects with society and shapes our culture, thinking, and the human condition.
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Quantum Theories: A to Z

S is for ...
Superposition

The feature of a quantum system whereby it exists in several separate quantum states at the same time.

S is for ...
Schrödinger Equation

This is the central equation of quantum theory, and describes how any quantum system will behave, and how its observable qualities are likely to manifest in an experiment.

O is for ...
Objective reality

Niels Bohr, one of the founding fathers of quantum physics, said there is no such thing as objective reality. All we can talk about, he said, is the results of measurements we make.

S is for ...
Schrödinger’s Cat

A hypothetical experiment in which a cat kept in a closed box can be alive and dead at the same time – as long as nobody lifts the lid to take a look.

G is for ...
Gravity

Our best theory of gravity no longer belongs to Isaac Newton. It’s Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. There’s just one problem: it is incompatible with quantum theory. The effort to tie the two together provides the greatest challenge to physics in the 21st century.

A is for ...
Alice and Bob

In quantum experiments, these are the names traditionally given to the people transmitting and receiving information. In quantum cryptography, an eavesdropper called Eve tries to intercept the information.

J is for ...
Josephson Junction

This is a narrow constriction in a ring of superconductor. Current can only move around the ring because of quantum laws; the apparatus provides a neat way to investigate the properties of quantum mechanics and is a technology to build qubits for quantum computers.

C is for ...
Clocks

The most precise clocks we have are atomic clocks which are powered by quantum mechanics. Besides keeping time, they can also let your smartphone know where you are.

R is for ...
Reality

Since the predictions of quantum theory have been right in every experiment ever done, many researchers think it is the best guide we have to the nature of reality. Unfortunately, that still leaves room for plenty of ideas about what reality really is!

M is for ...
Maths

Quantum physics is the study of nature at the very small. Mathematics is one language used to formalise or describe quantum phenomena.

Q is for ...
Qubit

One quantum bit of information is known as a qubit (pronounced Q-bit). The ability of quantum particles to exist in many different states at once means a single quantum object can represent multiple qubits at once, opening up the possibility of extremely fast information processing.

V is for ...
Virtual particles

Quantum theory’s uncertainty principle says that since not even empty space can have zero energy, the universe is fizzing with particle-antiparticle pairs that pop in and out of existence. These “virtual” particles are the source of Hawking radiation.

Z is for ...
Zero-point energy

Even at absolute zero, the lowest temperature possible, nothing has zero energy. In these conditions, particles and fields are in their lowest energy state, with an energy proportional to Planck’s constant.

Y is for ...
Young's Double Slit Experiment

In 1801, Thomas Young proved light was a wave, and overthrew Newton’s idea that light was a “corpuscle”.

U is for ...
Universe

To many researchers, the universe behaves like a gigantic quantum computer that is busy processing all the information it contains.

L is for ...
Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

At CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, this machine is smashing apart particles in order to discover their constituent parts and the quantum laws that govern their behaviour.

W is for ...
Wavefunction

The mathematics of quantum theory associates each quantum object with a wavefunction that appears in the Schrödinger equation and gives the probability of finding it in any given state.

G is for ...
Gluon

These elementary particles hold together the quarks that lie at the heart of matter.

K is for ...
Kaon

These are particles that carry a quantum property called strangeness. Some fundamental particles have the property known as charm!

M is for ...
Many Worlds Theory

Some researchers think the best way to explain the strange characteristics of the quantum world is to allow that each quantum event creates a new universe.

K is for ...
Key

Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) is a way to create secure cryptographic keys, allowing for more secure communication.

M is for ...
Multiverse

Our most successful theories of cosmology suggest that our universe is one of many universes that bubble off from one another. It’s not clear whether it will ever be possible to detect these other universes.

U is for ...
Uncertainty Principle

One of the most famous ideas in science, this declares that it is impossible to know all the physical attributes of a quantum particle or system simultaneously.

L is for ...
Light

We used to believe light was a wave, then we discovered it had the properties of a particle that we call a photon. Now we know it, like all elementary quantum objects, is both a wave and a particle!

B is for ...
Bell's Theorem

In 1964, John Bell came up with a way of testing whether quantum theory was a true reflection of reality. In 1982, the results came in – and the world has never been the same since!

F is for ...
Free Will

Ideas at the heart of quantum theory, to do with randomness and the character of the molecules that make up the physical matter of our brains, lead some researchers to suggest humans can’t have free will.

H is for ...
Hidden Variables

One school of thought says that the strangeness of quantum theory can be put down to a lack of information; if we could find the “hidden variables” the mysteries would all go away.

R is for ...
Randomness

Unpredictability lies at the heart of quantum mechanics. It bothered Einstein, but it also bothers the Dalai Lama.

D is for ...
Decoherence

Unless it is carefully isolated, a quantum system will “leak” information into its surroundings. This can destroy delicate states such as superposition and entanglement.

A is for ...
Atom

This is the basic building block of matter that creates the world of chemical elements – although it is made up of more fundamental particles.

H is for ...
Hawking Radiation

In 1975, Stephen Hawking showed that the principles of quantum mechanics would mean that a black hole emits a slow stream of particles and would eventually evaporate.

S is for ...
Sensors

Researchers are harnessing the intricacies of quantum mechanics to develop powerful quantum sensors. These sensors could open up a wide range of applications.

T is for ...
Time

The arrow of time is “irreversible”—time goes forward. On microscopic quantum scales, this seems less certain. A recent experiment shows that the forward pointing of the arrow of time remains a fundamental rule for quantum measurements.

X is for ...
X-ray

In 1923 Arthur Compton shone X-rays onto a block of graphite and found that they bounced off with their energy reduced exactly as would be expected if they were composed of particles colliding with electrons in the graphite. This was the first indication of radiation’s particle-like nature.

B is for ...
Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC)

At extremely low temperatures, quantum rules mean that atoms can come together and behave as if they are one giant super-atom.

D is for ...
Dice

Albert Einstein decided quantum theory couldn’t be right because its reliance on probability means everything is a result of chance. “God doesn’t play dice with the world,” he said.

A is for ...
Act of observation

Some people believe this changes everything in the quantum world, even bringing things into existence.

E is for ...
Entanglement

When two quantum objects interact, the information they contain becomes shared. This can result in a kind of link between them, where an action performed on one will affect the outcome of an action performed on the other. This “entanglement” applies even if the two particles are half a universe apart.

Q is for ...
Quantum biology

A new and growing field that explores whether many biological processes depend on uniquely quantum processes to work. Under particular scrutiny at the moment are photosynthesis, smell and the navigation of migratory birds.

I is for ...
Interferometer

Some of the strangest characteristics of quantum theory can be demonstrated by firing a photon into an interferometer

C is for ...
Computing

The rules of the quantum world mean that we can process information much faster than is possible using the computers we use now. This column from Quanta Magazine ​delves into the fundamental physics behind quantum computing.

E is for ...
Ethics

As the world makes more advances in quantum science and technologies, it is time to think about how it will impact lives and how society should respond. This mini-documentary by the Quantum Daily is a good starting point to think about these ethical issues. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qc7gpabEhQ&t=2s 

P is for ...
Probability

Quantum mechanics is a probabilistic theory: it does not give definite answers, but only the probability that an experiment will come up with a particular answer. This was the source of Einstein’s objection that God “does not play dice” with the universe.

P is for ...
Planck's Constant

This is one of the universal constants of nature, and relates the energy of a single quantum of radiation to its frequency. It is central to quantum theory and appears in many important formulae, including the Schrödinger Equation.

Q is for ...
Quantum States

Quantum states, which represent the state of affairs of a quantum system, change by a different set of rules than classical states.

N is for ...
Nonlocality

When two quantum particles are entangled, it can also be said they are “nonlocal”: their physical proximity does not affect the way their quantum states are linked.

I is for ...
Information

Many researchers working in quantum theory believe that information is the most fundamental building block of reality.

T is for ...
Tunnelling

This happens when quantum objects “borrow” energy in order to bypass an obstacle such as a gap in an electrical circuit. It is possible thanks to the uncertainty principle, and enables quantum particles to do things other particles can’t.

W is for ...
Wave-particle duality

It is possible to describe an atom, an electron, or a photon as either a wave or a particle. In reality, they are both: a wave and a particle.

C is for ...
Cryptography

People have been hiding information in messages for millennia, but the quantum world provides a whole new way to do it.

T is for ...
Teleportation

Quantum tricks allow a particle to be transported from one location to another without passing through the intervening space – or that’s how it appears. The reality is that the process is more like faxing, where the information held by one particle is written onto a distant particle.

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