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.
It looks like a typical morning, but it’s New Years aka 2088. This is my first time writing in a journal, and perhaps my last... I’m sick, old, and living off the grid means hospitals are out of the question. In the decades out here my main accomplishment was building a sanctuary. The heart being this cabin made of my own special transparent solar panels. They make my walls look like huge windows, and from outside it looks like I live in a shining glass rubix cube. The panels store energy better than old photovoltaic technology, and provide spectacular panoramic views. I see my private gardens, livestock, aqueducts, and I know somebody will find this eventually. This journal entry is for you, or for anyone curious about me and this place. Why did an engineer leave society for this? Why did I leave as the world transformed? I’ll tell you.
It started 33 years ago when I was a professor teaching applied solar engineering. I’d just put finishing touches on my secretive side project (my cabin), and was headed home. The drive took forever, but I remember feeling great. Until I reached the first gas station, and saw people huddled around the television... Details were sparse, but someone in the American government had leaked a massive trove of confidential documents. The cashier said it might be another Snowden scale leak, but it was bigger. Eventually, everyone learned that a few nations had been in a covert R&D race that many called the quantum cold war. It was clear that the goal of the race was to build powerful quantum computers, and related technologies. More leaks came like dominoes, and caught even the foremost academics off guard.
Things used to be so simple, but it turned out the scope, depth, and especially funding of quantum technologies had been one of the worlds best kept secrets (even the POTUS was unaware). China and the U.S. in particular had funding that dwarfed the Manhattan project. Instantly conspiracy theories arose regarding the motives, rationale, and relationship between these nations. The official story was that clandestine entities had agreed to cooperate, restrict use, and eventually control the roll-out of quantum computers. If that was true a catalyst leak changed everything by proving quantum computers had already existed for years. The leaker (he/she/they) then went further by publishing every single U.S schematic for quantum technologies. Paradigms were broken, and that decision changed history.
Quantum computers were soon made by most countries, rogue nations, and eventually small groups. Mayhem ensued involving things like public key encryption, digital signatures, and key exchanges. As expected common algorithms such as ECDSA, ECDH, DSA, and RSA were rendered insecure. Even algorithms once looked at with optimism such as SHA-2, SHA-3, and AES had quick ends. I could say after this was the post-apocalypse, but that wouldn’t be fair or accurate. Recovery started during peak pandemonium, and due to superordinate goals (mostly mutually assured destruction) many groups cooperated. From technological and financial ruin came brilliance like quantum resistant networks, crypto-currencies tied to previous wealth, new medicines etc, but these are outliers compared to the destruction.
New politicians, personalities, and entertainers emerged with Machiavellian dispositions. Using charisma, rhetoric, disinformation, and manipulation they pinned the blame on scientists worldwide. They started a witch hunt so vicious it led to thousands of vigilante murders. As someone with lifelong colleagues in quantum research I saw through every lie. The truth was that most had done their best, and groups preparing for quantum computers (PQCrypto, NIST etc.) were kept in the dark like everyone else. I couldn't prove this...so all I did was frantically research, and speak to any physicist, or computer scientist that I could. Until thankfully one colleague got me to give it all up.
She told me about a prestigious quantum-computing conference she attended just before the leaks. In it top minds debated how quantum computers may break 2000-bit RSA, devastate ecosystems, compete with classical computers, and then they predicted potential timelines... She contrasted their timelines with the leaks, and made it clear. Their plans and predictions at best were 80 YEARS too late! After that I stopped resisting, and started assessing the damage. I began seeing the real tragedy, and it wasn't the secret asymmetry of knowledge, technology crumbling, or witch hunts. It was the fact that global psychology was poisoned, and without an antidote...everyday got worse.
First we lost autonomy, and privacy regarding our everyday multiplicity of selves. People used to be able to choose how, when, and where they would share aspects about themselves. There was freedom, but when encryption fell this got twisted by dark marketplaces. These markets took all previously private aspects of the self like DNA data, browsing history, geo-location, videos etc, and used them for trade, research, attack, or public sale. Careers ruined, relationships changed, public personas shattered, privacy ideals abandoned, and people coped in horrible ways. Some invented conspiracies or withdrew from public spheres, others went on a chronic defense, and worst were those committed to viciously attacking others. Cognitive dissonance evolved into an everyday tool used to retain cohesion, and people were so different in public it was almost alien.
Data supported my concerns, and experts estimated over half the population had a DSM-8 diagnosable psychopathology. Studies showed the unprecedented loss of privacy resulted in extreme stress and anxiety. The constant public attacks created conformity and group-think that transcended borders. Interpersonal relationships should’ve been a crutch, but people started only tentatively knowing each other. The nail in the coffin was when I noticed no one outside had laughed in over a month. There was a chilling effect on global happiness, and why be a part of it? Guess hindsight isn’t 20/20 in the post-quantum world because I see nothing that could’ve been done. That's my reasoning and my journey in a nutshell! Enjoy the cabin, and if you’re the first to reach this place - dig eight yards under the cabin deck.