Devs: Alex Garland on Tech Company Cults, Quantum Computing, and Determinism – Den of Geek UK

Posted: March 30, 2020 at 7:50 am

Yet that difference between the common things a company can sell and the uncommon things they quietly develop is profoundly important. In Devs, the friendly exterior of Amaya with its enormous statue of a childa literal monument to Forests lost daughteris a public face to the actual profound work his Devs team is doing in a separate, highly secretive facility. Seemingly based in part on mysterious research and development wings of tech giantsthink Googles moonshot organizations at X Development and DeepMindDevs is using quantum computing to change the world, all while keeping Forests Zen ambition as its shield.

I think it helps, actually, Garland says about Forest not being a genius. Because I think what happens is that these [CEO] guys present as a kind of front between what the company is doing and the rest of the world, including the kind of inspection that the rest of the world might want on the company if they knew what the company was doing. So our belief and enthusiasm in the leader stops us from looking too hard at what the people behind-the-scenes are doing. And from my point of view thats quite common.

A lifelong man of words, Garland describes himself as a writer with a laymans interest in science. Yet its fair to say he studies almost obsessively whatever field of science hes writing about, which now pertains to quantum computing. A still largely unexplored frontier in the tech world, quantum computing is the use of technology to apply quantum-mechanical phenomena to data a traditional computer could never process. Its still so unknown that Google AI and NASA published a paper only six months ago in which they claimed to have achieved quantum supremacy (the creation of a quantum device that can actually solve problems a classical computer cannot).

Whereas binary computers work with gates that are either a one or a zero, a quantum qubit [a basic unit of measurement] can deal with a one and a zero concurrently, and all points in between, says Garland. So you get a staggering amount of exponential power as you start to run those qubits in tandem with each other. What the filmmaker is especially fascinated by is using a quantum system to model another quantum system. That is to say using a quantum computer with true supremacy to solve other theoretical problems in quantum physics. If we use a binary way of doing that, youre essentially using a filing system to model something that is emphatically not binary.

So in Devs, quantum computing is a gateway into a hell of a trippy concept: a quantum computer so powerful that it can analyze the theoretical data of everything that has or will occur. In essence, Forest and his team are creating a time machine that can project through a probabilistic system how events happened in the past, will happen in the future, and are happening right now. It thus acts as an omnipotent surveillance system far beyond any neocons dreams.

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Devs: Alex Garland on Tech Company Cults, Quantum Computing, and Determinism - Den of Geek UK

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