Fifteen thousand years ago it’s probable that all humans banded together in hunter-gatherer clans of 50 to 100. That’s the way we survived for thousands of generations. Subsistence in permanent settlements is relatively novel for our species. Although we have spread world wide on the waves of an agricultural revolution, we thrive on the heart of a fundamentally nomadic species.
Most human brains can’t maintain more than 100 concurrent relationships. Apparently, this is the number when alpha male rivalry drove apart prehistoric nomadic clans. (Try a little test: write down all the people you interact with, face to face, in an average month. I bet you’ll struggle on your pass 50.)
Social media may be a development on par with the printing press because it allows us to engage in hundreds (thousands?) of concurrent relationships, and get past evolutionary cognitive barriers. Ultimately, this new connectedness could generate a hyper-level of creativity. Add this connectivity to the advent of quantum computers—they should be available in about 30 years—and we might become a completely interconnected species.
What is a quantum computer? Ordinary computers communicate via binary mathematics: All instructions are coded as ones and zeroes, value and no value.
For an obvious reason, humans prefer to use a numerical base of ten symbols: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. We start repeating these symbols in different positions and arrangements to represent any quantity on the number line.
All the familiar mathematical operations are possible using only 0 and 1. For example, a base ten 7 is equivalent to 111 in binary. Seventeen is 10001 in base two. I won’t explain how to translate from base two to base ten or visa versa. Just take my word for it.
Computers only have two fingers or I guess you could say the computer alphabet only has two letters. Computers make up for this weakness by processing the 0’s and 1’s rapidly. For example, my computer can do 2,660,000,000 actions every second.
Each 0 or 1 represents a bit that is or is not. Quantum computers have qubits. A qubit is allowed to occupy both value and no value simultaneously. Don’t feel bad if you don’t completely understand; no one really understands quantum physics. Here’s a good example to help you understand the power of quantum computers: If you wanted to find your way out of a complicated maze and, try all options until you discover a correct path. That’s what ordinary computers do, but they do it faster than humans.
I’m sure you can imagine a maze so complicated that my 2.66 GHz processor will get bogged down and take a long time to find a solution. The perfect solution to escape the maze is to try all paths simultaneously. That’s what a quantum computer would do; I guess you could say exponential technological growth becomes essentially vertical.