I have been roaming through old files and presentations of late. I thought it would be pretty boring, but I’ve found a lot of good stuff hiding in my virtual garage. One topic I’ve been enamored with for quite a while is the point of making a decision, the binary, no turning back point. That point where we do the merger or we don’t. That point where I jump out of the plane or I don’t, ask someone to marry me, or walk away. At the bottom of the bucket is the binary, the light switch. It’s either on or off.
I’ve had a hard time understanding how “q-bits” (quantum bits) work. If I set a light switch half way, so that the light is flickering on and off, at each instant, the light is either on or off (maybe better said, the power is either flowing through the switch or it isn’t). So the very idea of quantum bits is pretty difficult for me to grasp. I’ve always thought of the Universe as binary. At the very bottom, at least the “very bottom” just above the probability waves, reality either is – or is not. The electron, the quark, whatever is real, is either there or it’s not. note from Feb 26 – that’s not quite right. A lack of deep understanding is challenging here, but the idea is that you can do a lot with a binary system. After all, any computer that most of us will touch, and that reaches up to the size of city power grids and streets. Trains, planes and automobiles. In fact, we are right now moving to binary autopilot for our cars. Each “bit” either gets enough electricity to make it a YES or it doesn’t and stays a NO. An easy example, your phone takes a 16mpx image. that means you are seeing 16 million pixels that are either on or off – binary. Now you can then add lots of other criteria like color, transparency, etc., but the initial question – Am I on or am I off? sets the stage for all other binary questions to follow.
An interesting example – think of a stadium packed with people. As each person walks in, the ticket taker looks up the person’s seat and then selects one of several solid color placards. From the blimp, using some pre-designed maps, you could make images as fast as the folks could flip each card on or off.
So I think it would be more accurate to say that a lot of Life happens at the binary level. I guess I can see the qbit as maybe transparency. So one address (to use a really old computer term) could have many different states. Let’s say the qbit can take on 64 states. That’s very cool and incredibly powerful compared to computers of today. However, I am thinking that a qbit can theoretically take on an “infinite” number of states, in which case I need to do some more cogitating.
If there are a finite number of states, irrespective of how many, then it is still a binary operation. Is the qbit on? On means that the analog electrical “wave” has gained sufficient energy to cross over some threshold. Always thought it was interesting that our binary computers still operate in an analog fashion down at the bottom, like probability waves. Ignoring analog computers here because I don’t know anything about them. But writing all these words gives me a good excuse to go learn a bit more.
I hadn’t really intended to go this path just now, but it seems appropriate. In addition to being a fairly hard and fast binary guy (again, at least in our physical manifestations of the probability waves), I’m also interested in the linkage between our physical universe and that ether of probability in which we are also clearly immersed.
So the premise for this article is as follows –
- it is true that we do control our fate to some large extent
- it is true that the smallest grain can start the avalanche
- it is true that we cannot predetermine the outcome of our binary choices when we extract them from that ether
Therefore, I will conclude that setting positive events in motion has a better chance of resulting in generally positive outcomes than setting negative events into motion.
An obvious corollary to this view is – What is defined as positive? If you’ve followed this blog along for a bit, it may not surprise you to learn that my answer to that will be – depends on what scale one is observing and asking the question. I love my car. I grew up during the 1960s and 1970s. Cars were freedom. But now, in the 21st century, we can see that burning carbon based fuels also has a price to be paid at the planet level.
A specific example. A group of folks who need food and medical aid because of a severe weather situation caused at least in some part by human imparted atmospheric carbon. In the news right now is all the rain falling in California, resulting in mudslides. The rain is caused by El Nino, which is purported to be stronger this year because of overall shifts in the planet’s climate. A big old C130 transport, belching carbon and chemicals like it was a factory designed to do just that, circles above the crowd, carrying much needed supplies.
Now that’s a qbit!
And yes, you can argue that if the carbon based system had not been developed, the C130 would never have had to spew its exhaust. However, let’s be realistic. The advent of the carbon based society has proven to be the most expansive period in human history (Good for humans. Probably take it or leave it for elephants.) And in fact, we have likely set ourselves up to solve this current problem through technologies created by this problem. True bootstrapping. And if that were not an operational model, we could never have made it even to be the slime on the water, right? More on where all that idea energy might live in some later post. Some slime blob had to take the first step to shake hands with some other slime blob somewhere, to take the calculated risk, to reach the binary decision – inside the blob’s mind would be “I can either shake hands and hope for the best, or we can just keep sliming past each other forever more.”
To move further here, I need to leave aside notions such as “intelligent design”. I am much more concerned with the moment of, and the “physics” of when a decision leaps from the layers of probability and becomes binary, when the light switch is either turned to on or off.
It may be somewhat obvious why this would matter to running a business, but I’ll jump in just a bit. Every day, businesses and the individuals within those businesses have to make, let’s say a myriad of decisions. Once the decision is made, the grain of sand is dropped. If that grain of sand is “the one”, then the result will be an avalanche of reverberations, positive and negative.
Therefore, a valid and worthwhile question to address relative to business is – “How can I keep the overall direction of my business moving in a positive (at least at the scale of my business) channel?”.
In my career, this question would need to be addressed as – How can we do the greatest good for the greatest number relative to environmental factors. These situations of environmental damage can be quite intense. There is often physical danger to humans and the biosphere, but difficult to measure objectively. There is almost always some impact on property (not always in the negative direction). And in this uncertainty, there is psychological stress.
If you then add in the “positive” for each person and family, that’s potentially quite a batch of stew. If my property benefits from the activities, great! But if I’m on the bad end of the stick, I’m probably not as happy with the deal.
One more idea and then I’ll try to tie it all together in a business setting.
Love me some straight line graphs. Simple, can often do a good job of telling the story, and they are pretty easy to draw free hand. But there’s one symbol in the graph that actually makes me queasy. Obviously, I take the meaning of some of this stuff pretty literally. That symbol is the empty circle, the “undefined”. What a frightening concept! Mathematics is a pretty well considered set of ideas. And when a mathematician uses a term like “undefined”, that is not all that comforting. That means, we don’t know, and in some instances, it means we cannot know. Challenging stuff.
I’ll describe this and add an image. Imagine a line that represents your path to a decision. New job, what type of medical treatment, should I get large size fries. From where you are presently located in the fabric of spacetime to where you will be after making some decision. Along that line will be an empty circle – an undefined moment. And from that moment, “all” possibilities are present. I suppose I wouldn’t go for the one where you instantly vaporize for no apparent reason, but within the decision channel, you are essentially free to attempt to predict and then create your next reality.
I know I promised, but just a quick sideline. We are getting ready to face some intense decision points as humans, in particular modification and even creation of life itself at the DNA level and virtual reality. Among many, many philosophical challenges to emerge from the Age of Technology, these will rank amongst the most difficult. They tear at the fabric of our models of reality. But they have already arrived, so probably best to learn as much as we can and look for the possibilities instead of the dangers, although there are plenty.
Ok, back to the present topic. Here’s my image of the decision point. The more important it is, the bigger the decision channel will grow. If it pops out into the chaotic, you’ve dropped that grain of sand! But when you recognize that landscape, not all is lost by any means. Pull out your pencil and paper and start recording! The ideas will flow rapidly and furiously. Record everything! Filter later.
A few days later
Changed my mind. End of this blog picking up at the graphic next one.