About Sky Fi
This is a place to explore and show how the world will develop in the next century. It is about connecting the power of speculative stories to real fields that are developing. Some combination of things like Pipeline Transportation, Gene-editing, Neuroscience, Blockchain, NewSpace, Nano-tech will change our world as much as engines, antibiotics, telescopes, and the internet have before that.
What will the change look like? The Science Fiction writers can usually see this more clearly and imaginatively than the investors. (This is from an investor!) Here you can find links to books and writings in each of these disciplines that help envision the power of the future. Please use the contact if you would like to share your own story.
“The Quantum Apocalypse”
by Sky Yu
This is a very naive street. The physical world now serves more like an transportation junction since too many digital worlds are created, and their pop-ups are everywhere. Sometimes you cannot distinguish a holographic wall from a real one, and there are streets that don’t even physically exist, since Augmented Reality streets are more efficient and flexible. Screens also cover over 50 percent of all physical objects’ surfaces since they are as cheap as paper. In comparison, all the walls in this block are made of physical materials, very old school materials like bricks and concrete, which give Christine a sense of ancient aestheticism. There are also no advertisements and entrances to other dazzling worlds created by those who don’t know what else to do. It is pure, isolated, like a little girl standing aside from the crowd. It’s like her. This is a historic reservation area which doesn’t allow any digital facilities beside street lamps. It’s located at a place that used to be called Cambridge, Massachusetts, and its existence is very luxurious given the overpopulated earth——almost all graveyards were removed from earth’s surface decades ago, which triggered broad moral dispute, but was still a trivial attempt to give people enough living room. Christine sees lots of colorful graffiti around her, some of it is words in exaggerated form, some are drawings of figures, and some are just random curves and color lumps. When she walks down to the middle of this street, she finds the one she is looking for. This is a drawing of a figure, a bareheaded man with tattoos . He has two heads facing two directions, one is like the shadow of the other. One of them looks contemplative, he puts one of his hands on his chin and his eyes look very deep; The other one looks very painedl and he puts both hands on his head and screams. This is a schizoaffective man. Cristine steps forward a little bit, trying to touch the wall. Suddenly a boy pops up.
“Ah ha! I beat you,” says the boy. “I arrived here…(calculating) 7 days 2 hour and 38 minutes ago, and I found out that to decrypt the next step we need two people to put their hands in two ‘key points’ in this drawing simultaneously, and their unique palm vein prints will be recognized as biological keys.” It seems this boy came here for the same purpose as Cristine. “I deciphered one ‘key point’ but have no clue for the other. It seems the two ‘key points’ need to be deciphered by two completely different methods, so if you can figure out one without using Elliptic Curve Cryptography, you should contact me. Notice that every person only has one chance in his or her life, so please do not touch the wall before I’m present.” The message ends here and the boy disappears. His image comes from a mobile holographic projector, which is actually not allowed here. Cristine looks back the drawing again, and she recalls the features of different drawing styles used in this drawing from her memory, and draws boundaries between those different styles in her mind. This street painting combines 8 different painting styles that cover a time period of centuries, and each two of them are contemporary so there are 4 pairs. All contemporary styles does not overlap, so when she draws the boundaries between all contemporary styles, 4 lines are present. Those 4 lines cross, not coincidentally, at the elbow of the man who is facing right, putting his hands on his head and screaming. Cristine knows that this is a “key point”, and definitely not the one related to “Elliptic Curve Cryptography”. She doesn’t even know what that means, and that means she has to contact the “pop-up boy.” Cristine picks up the device left by that boy, feeling bad that she has to share such a beautiful street and inspiring drawing with others. She is always obsessed by her extremely colorful and emotional spirit world, and never wants to have a stranger step into that. She doesn’t feel lonely though since all the beautiful art and music has given her enough company, but to see what’s next in this puzzle, she has to bring another stranger into it. She frowns and rings the number in the device.
Adam is a highly “advanced” boy. His family has been through 7 generations of gene-editing, and according to the quantified data, he belongs to the most intelligent ten thousand individuals in the earth out of a population of 140 billion, and that's why he is now a student at MIT. MIT is a University that has lasted a long time. Actually, the only thing that survived from the last century were Universities, Hospitals and Coca-Cola. Countries gradually merged and almost all of the companies and organizations were replaced by newly rising ones. In MIT there are barely any “Original People”, people whose family have never accepted any gene-editing, or, as someone jokingly called them, “muggles”. Muggles usually don’t have permanent memory and need AR glasses to remind them of important knowledge. They also have very limited computation power and need to rely on calculators. By contrast, Adam could imitate a Turing Machine with 256 MB Ram in his mind when he was 12. However, Adam was recently troubled by a puzzle set by an “original man”, very likely the richest “original man” in the world, Charles Winson.
Charles is the only “original” person listed in the world's top 20 wealthiest people. His progenitors were the most intelligent people in the world: they are professors at Harvard and MIT who teach religion and ancient art, and they are morally resistant to gene editing, partially because they are Christian. They gave their descendents the most advanced education and their family is also lucky enough so that most of their gene mutation are in the right direction. Now his family is probably the last family to never experience any gene editing but still clever enough to catch up(barely) with the “Advanced” people.
Charles did a great job in running his family’s business, but the tragedy in his life is that he loved and married a highly “Advanced” woman. They lived their life together but were not able to conceive a baby. Technically, they were already different species. Charles eventually left the world without any children, and at last he sold almost all his personal property to buy 10% of Bitcoin, which was worth around 40 Billion. He claimed that he had hidden the treasure in a picture, and published that picture. The picture looks like a very ancient drawing with very mixed style, and in all historical records this picture cannot be found. Millions of people started to analyze the style and age of this drawing in order to discover the treasure. Adam first searched the history ofBitcoin, since he thought hiding treasure in Bitcoin was very old school but very cool. He found out that BItcoin is the very first virtual property that was built on top of a “Trust Protocol”, which at that time was called “Blockchain”. Bitcoin is actually the origin of Trust Protocols. Now almost all daily used data as well as financial data runs at Trust Protocol so that people can get reliability without losing privacy. It is now so common and natural that most people now don’t even pay attention on it. With a further navigation Adam found that Bitcoin was built on an ancient encryption algorithm called “Elliptic Curve Cryptography”, and such algorithm later became vulnerable to any Quantum Computers’ attack. Bitcoin was later edited to be quantum resistant, but with more and more applications building on top of Trust Protocols, people lost interest in Bitcoin, and it is now more like a digital antique and souvenir. Still, it still worth one tenth of its peak value, and many people still collect it or send it as a gift. Adam’s intuition told him that the abandoned encryption algorithm was the key. He translated all pixels on the drawing into Hexadecimal numbers and applied Elliptic Curve Cryptography on those, and since this algorithm is now quantum resistant, he hacked into MIT’s quantum computer center and secretly borrowed the computation power to help him decipher the code. After 2 months running, the quantum computer did gave him a meaningful output: “42”.
“Are you kidding me?” When he saw this outcome he was really pissed and felt like he had been played. “This is not funny!” He shouted at his computer and scared his roommate. “It is funny actually. I know this is ‘the answer to the ultimate question of earth, the universe and everything’, but this is definitely not the answer to 2.1 million BItcoins!” His roommate says,
“Do you really believe you can get billions from this stupid drawing?”
“I don’t care about the money, but I must be the first one to solve this puzzle. I have never encountered a puzzle that I can’t solve.” While arguing with his roommate, Adam dragged this “42” back and forth and enlarged and rotated it. He couldn't believe that two months of calculation lead him to a dead end. When he enlarged the “42” to an extent, he found that this number is not constituted by pixels, but by a repeated line: “42°21'54.6"N 71°06'11.2"W”.
One day after Cristine triggered the message left by Adam, they meet at the street with the key to 40 Billion dollars. It is slightly rainy, but they both are wearing static electricity necklaces to keep the raindrops half a meter from them. They stand close enough that their two rain-free circles merge to a bigger one. After Adam explains how he located this street and this drawing, he asks Cristine: “So how did you located this place? When I arrived here last week I analyzed this drawing with the same approach I used to the published drawing, and within a second a coordinate for the key point is deciphered, with a paragraph saying that I need to find another key point with a totally different method. I tried lots of algorithms in this week but they are all dead-ends.” Cristine smiles and says:
“Because it’s not an algorithm. After the drawing was published, I was so attracted to the unique drawing style it uses, but I could not find any corresponding styles, so I searched millions of records about ancient drawing styles, some too old and minor to be found in the ‘One Database’ so I even read many physical books. Those are now all protected relics so I had to apply to the museums. Then I started to realize that the drawing was a combination of many different ancient drawing styles, 8 actually. After I located all those styles I abstracted their feature and searched in the ‘One Database’, the only result that fits all those 8 styles is a photo of this street drawing. I also located the key point in a similar way.”
“Sounds like a lot of work, no wonder it took you a long time to reach here. So you are a visual art specialist?”
“I’m actually a Music Major in Berklee College, but I’m also into drawings. I believe all forms of arts are the same in their essence, don’t you?”
“Hmmmm, Maybe. So shall we start? After we solve this we can split the money.”
“Deal.” They both walk toward the street drawing. Cristine puts her hand on the elbow of the screaming man and Adam puts his hand to the chin of the thinking man. It’s weird, since the wall looks hard, that they both have a soft feeling when they touch it, followed by a wavy feeling like the wall is alive. But after that nothing seems to change. They step back to observe the drawing, and after a few seconds of silence, Cristine notices the slight change. “They are fading.” The image of those two men slightly pales and the process becomes faster and faster like the time is accelerated and this drawing is experiencing weathering in a scale of million years. “Is this wall a screen?” Cristine wonders. “But I don’t think an electronic screen is allowed in this block, and my detector doesn’t show any other electronic devices in this area other than those you and I brought.”
“Have you noticed that in the shadowed conor the drawing is also in black? It seems this wall is not emitting any light, but all the pigment on it is moving by itself.” Adam is also confused by the strange behavior of this wall. “Oh! It’s nano-tech! It is a frontier technology that I have only seen once in MIT Media lab. Those pigments are really moving by themselves since they are carried by robots in a scale of nanometers. And those robots are not detectable by other devices since their circuits are far too small. I have never seen a microscope phenomenon created by such amount of nano-robots. The cost of this wall is definitely beyond a million.” While they are talking, the drawing finally vanishes in the million years period, and the wall shows a paragraph: “It took you intelligence, patience, knowledge, inspiration and an obsession with aestheticism to reach here, now if you can answer me 5 questions, I will present you all the treasure in my life.”
“Wow that is so cool! 5 questions for billions worth of Bitcoin.” Adam is very excited to take this challenge, and Cristine is standing in silence and awaiting what will happen next. The wall keeps changing and a line is shown: “Who are you?” After this line forms it begins to fade. Adam looks at Cristine and she also looks confused, so Adam tries to answer before this line fade away. He has to assume that those nano-robots can hear him.
“I...I...I’m an intellectual Low entropy body with self consciousness. Living in Planet Earth. I’ve been born for around 19.37 orbital period around the Sun. My name is Adam Yan, and I study Mathematics, Computer Science and Cryptography at…” Adam doesn’t have a chance to finish his sentence and the line disappears and a new one begins to form.
“That’s a very precise and inclusive answer,” Cristine laughs, but Adam doesn’t have time to reply since the new line is formed: “Where do you belong to?” “Biologically I belong to Primates Order, Hominidae Family, Homo Genus and Sapiens species, but through 7 generations of gene editing I’m developing away from my original species; Physically I belong to Cambridge, North America, Earth, Solar System, Milky Way Galaxy, C53 Cluster; Mentally I…” The line fades again and a new line forms: “Do you think your life has a meaning?” “What the… I mean what are these questions? They are too abstract and too basic and there is no standard answer!” Adam begins to complain, but he still answers: “Yes, my life has a meaning. You didn’t ask what is that meaning so my answer is: Yes.” This line fade away again and a new line forms: “Those are not questions you need to answer.” “What…is that a joke?...” Adam feels he is tricked again and Cristine begin to laugh loudly:
“I believe those are introductions instead of the real questions.” She smiles a lot but rarely laughs like this. The line of words keeps going on: “But those are questions everyone should think about in this era. Now, the five questions begins.”
...TO BE CONTINUED
Works of Inspriation
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Movies and Series:
Love, Death & Robots