Quantum Supremacy


(artist’s drawing of Google’s quantum computer chip)

In October, Google built a quantum computer that solved an incredibly hard problem in 200 seconds — a problem the world’s fastest supercomputer would take 10,000 years to solve. This is called “quantum supremacy”, and has been compared to the Wright Brothers’ first flight.

”Until recently, every computer on the planet — from a 1960s mainframe to your iPhone, and even inventions as superficially exotic as ‘neuromorphic computers’ and DNA computers — has operated on the same rules. These were rules that Charles Babbage understood in the 1830s and that Alan Turing codified in the 1930s. Through the course of the computer revolution, all that has changed at the lowest level are the numbers: speed, amount of RAM and hard disk, number of parallel processors.

But quantum computing is different. It’s the first computing paradigm since Turing that’s expected to change the fundamental scaling behavior of algorithms, making certain tasks feasible that had previously been exponentially hard. Of these, the most famous examples are simulating quantum physics and chemistry, and breaking much of the encryption that currently secures the internet.

I’m sure this will go well.

More here.

Half Life: Alyx

It’s no exaggeration to say that Half Life is one of the best, most influential PC games ever made – maybe even the best, period. For my money, Half Life 2 is the best in the series; even though it came out in 2004, it still holds up. (I’m replaying it now, as a matter of fact.)

After HL2, Valve decided that episodic games was the way forward, so fans wouldn’t have to wait years and years for the next installment. Half Life 2: Episode One came out in June of 2006, then Half Life 2: Episode Two was included with several other games in October of 2008. It had a hell of a cliffhanger, and then … nothing.

Fans waited patiently – then impatiently – as rumors came and went. Every interview with Valve was an opportunity to inquire about the status of Half Life: Episode Three, but the company always politely declined to comment. Many years passed, and it never materialized. Interest slowed to a trickle as the game became an Internet punchline. So the announcement of Half Life: Alyx is HUGE.

To be clear, this isn’t Half Life 2: Episode Three. Events in this game are set between Half Life and Half Life 2. Hardcore fans will happily take anything – as long as it’s good – and Half Life: Alyx is the perfect game to launch the company’s VR platform. Rather than posting the short teaser trailer Valve released, I thought I’d include this guy’s take. See what you reckon.

The Greatest Internet Comment About Star Wars Ever

Tickets purchased, expectations lowered. Sigh. The Rise of Skywalker is currently hovering at a 53 on Metacritic.

And, submitted for your approval, a rare and wonderfully insightful thought plucked from the Internet. (Birth. Movies. Death., specifically.)

I couldn’t agree more.

If you go back and look at George Lucas’ “Star Wars” from in the context of 1977, it fits right into the canon of New Hollywood greats. But while his contemporaries were pulling from the French New Wave or Italian neorealisim, George Lucas cribbed influences from Kurosawa, Flash Gordon, John Ford, Joseph Campbell. It felt personal, in its own strange way, driven by the point of view of one auteur. As timeless as it seemed, it felt current and relevant to the outside world; its not hard to draw a comparison to the Vietnam war watching Star Wars, fresh on the minds of every American in the late 70s. It took risks, even when it was traveling in cliches and archetypes, and went on to inspire multiple generations of creativity.

But somewhere along the way, Star Wars became just another risk averse IP in our increasingly IP-driven world. As its universe expanded, it ironically put on a cap on the possibilities of what “Star Wars” could mean. It is now Star Wars as product, “market-researched, audience-tested, vetted, modified, revetted and remodified until they’re ready for consumption” as Martin Scorsese recently put it. Where once Star Wars drew on the outside world, its now merely about itself and its finite number of themes and ideas. The films that once showed audiences things they’d never seen before is now just another franchise built to deliver exactly what we remember, forever and ever, until we’re all dead.

Death Stranding

This is Hideo Kojima’s newest PS4 game, announced in 2016 and in development since 2017. It stars Norman Reedus, Mads Mikkelsen, Léa Seydoux, Margaret Qualley, Troy Baker, Tommie Earl Jenkins, Guillermo del Toro, Nicolas Winding Refn, and Lindsay Wagner(!). Most critics are raving. Anticipation has been intense – Kojima is regarded as a visionary genius, after all – and Death Stranding is currently enjoying an 83 on Metacritic.

Folks are laying on the hyperbole pretty heavy, one critic calling it not only the Game of the Year, but maybe even The Game of a Generation. The fellow in the above review actually LIKES the game, but even as he’s raving, listen to how he describes actual gameplay. Between over-indulgent cutscenes, your character delivers packages. That’s pretty much it.

Favorite YouTube comment:

Apocalyptic mailman simulator LOL