自2017年以来,量子信息和技术科学(QIS),特别是量子计算,正在迅速成为好莱坞及其电影、电视剧和小说的核心。他们的场景强调了量子力量和国家安全形势之间的联系。

好莱坞与美国的战略辩论

这是一个重要的迹象,考虑到美国文化产业和国家安全之间的关系自二战以来一直是美国战略辩论的主要动力之一(Jean-Michel Valantin, 好莱坞、五角大楼和华盛顿。从二战到现在的电影和国家安全, 2005).

这种联系通过华盛顿特区的联邦政治权力中心、国防部、情报界以及媒体和文化产业之间非常复杂和纠结的关系来组织美国战略辩论的结构(Valantin,同上)。这就是为什么好莱坞电影、电视和电子游戏在美国战略辩论中发挥着重要作用的原因。

As a result, the Hollywood cultural industry is extremely reactive to any evolution of the national security apparatus. Thus, the themes present in movies and other cultural productions are highly likely to be very strong indications of crucial issues for the U.S. national security, including how the future is foreseen.

Quantum Goes to Hollywood

Currently, we can see the heightening importance of quantum computing and more broadly QIS in Hollywood in a couple of instances. It is central in the mega-blockbuster “Mortal Engines”, produced by Peter Jackson (2018). The same is true of the new “Star Trek: Discovery season” TV series (2017). The novel “The Quantum Spy”, by David Ignatius (2018) is also a strong signal. Hollywood’s reactivity reveals the importance of quantum information science and technology in strategic terms. Reciprocally, it turns Hollywood into a driver for the development of the quantum potential.

As Hélène Lavoix brilliantly demonstrates, there is a race for quantum computing that drives its development (Hélène Lavoix, “Mapping the Race for Quantum Computing ", 红色(团队)分析会, 27 November 2018). This development is quickly going to have vast consequences in terms of defence and national security, even more so as this evolution translates in the culture industry. Indeed, the latter feeds the quantum race, through the production of quantum centred national security movies and TV series that create a cultural set of references, which becomes a driver of this race, including because it allows imagining the future, as explained in 量子计算的战场和未来--量子、人工智能和地缘政治 (2).

Outline: Exploring Quantum Hollywood

In this article, we focus on the way quantum computing is emerging from the “national security movies and novels” apparatus. We look at what that reveals about the strategic status of quantum computing. Then, we explore the way it turns Hollywood into a technological driver, and how it installs quantum computing and QIS at the geopolitical level.

Quantum computing, national security and Hollywood

Since World War II, a dense and very complex network of relationships exists between the different political, military and scientific centres of national security and the then novel publishing and movie industries. Therefore, the American culture industry is a preeminent stakeholder of the U.S. national security and strategic debate. Hence, those movies and novels are putting together representations and narratives that emphasise important features of the strategic debate. It follows that the general public integrates these representations.

This triggers the emergence of a popular legitimacy attached to these dominant narratives about U.S. strategy and national security.

From nuclear, air and space power to Quantum Power

This Hollywood/ National security community/ Federal government cycle is a driver of the modern U.S. strategic history. For example, it has played a central role in the development of the nuclear and air and space capabilities during the Cold War (Valantin, ibid).

Therefore, this process is currently applied to quantum information science and technology.

Quantum Chronicles

The blockbuster “Mortal Engines”, produced by Peter Jackson, is an important signal for this ongoing phenomenon. The film describes how the planet has been largely destroyed by a “quantum weapons world war”. Because of the collapse it causes, a thousand years later, giant mechanised rolling  cities roam through the devastation of Eurasia. The rolling cities devour and absorb each other, in order to survive and to keep functioning. In this permanent war of all against all, the terrible “London City” achieves the reconstruction of a “quantum weapon system” and uses it against the “Asian great wall”, in order to reach the Asian resources.

Similarly, quantum technologies and basic research in quantum sciences are very present in “Star trek: Discovery”. The USS Discovery spaceship utilises quantum computing in order to use quantum space and time travel. The  quantum physics dimension becomes a strategic resource to use.

In the literary field, David Ignatius’ novel “The Quantum Spy” takes place nowadays. The reader follows the adventures of a U.S. spy trying to prevent China to weaponize a quantum encryption code .

Hollywood as a technological driver

Most importantly, in the case of quantum computing, Hollywood has another function. It is linked to the immense potential of quantum information science. As it happens, this potential currently entails a new race for technological dominance. As Hélène Lavoix puts it, the race to imagine its uses is also of strategic importance:

“Actually, being able to imagine and foresee the usage of quantum technologies is also part of the race for quantum. Indeed, those who will be at the top of the race are those who will be able to harness first as many usages as possible, alongside developing quantum sensing, quantum communications, and performing quantum computing and quantum simulations.”

The Quantum Computing Battlefield, Ibid.

Popularizing Quantum Technologies

And it is exactly what the movies, TV series and novel are doing. Meanwhile, it must be kept in mind that this “quantum use” movies, TV series and novels impact dozens of millions of people.

For example “Star trek: Discovery” has been the most popular streaming television program in the U.S. in 2018 (Jamie Lovett, ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Is Most Popular Streaming Show in the US, UK According to Report ", ComicBook, June 27, 2018). In addition, “Mortal Engines” has attracted 10 million U.S. spectators (IMDB). Thus, writers are “imagining” the use of quantum information science and technology. As a result, dozens of millions of spectators start to imagine these usages. Therefore, the American cultural industry creates a cultural and popular base for the understanding of what is at stake with the quantum potential.

The quantum political base

It also creates a political basis for QIS development through the sheer mass of spectators that are also citizens. Henceforth, in the same dynamic, these shows stimulate the necessary imagination of QIS usages, and thus turns the public into a driver of its development. Consequently, the public attention, in turn, is increasing the strategic interest of quantum computing. So, the narratives found in these various cultural products are turning the attention of the public towards the strategic importance of quantum.

“Feeling” and “seeing” the strategic importance of Quantum Technologies

As a result of this cultural/scientific/ political feedback loop, those cultural narratives make people “see” and feel the importance of QIS. Above all, mastering quantum computing and other quantum technologies is the ultimate technological, industrial and strategic high ground.

That is why, reciprocally, not developing these technologies could become a threat.

Quantum technology: asset or threat?

The possible materialisation of the threat is expressed through the “other side” (Klingons, other cities, dark empire, resource rich region, China, …) possibly acquiring and weaponising QIS. Thus, those adversaries would become the new strategic and existential threat. In other words, those movies, TV series and novels are creating a common culture about the strategic importance of QIS. They also turn it into a strategic issue at the national scale.

From Hollywood to the race for geopolitical power

Meanwhile, the emergence of quantum technology thematics in the “national security cultural field” takes also place in the geopolitical field. It is because the race to quantum computing is so intense that, for example, Asian actors such as the Chinese plan to invest 14,5 billion dollars in five years on the Laboratory of Quantum Information in Hefei (Lavoix, ibid). In addition, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the U.S. Department of Defence are studying the military and strategic use of these emerging technologies (Elsa B. Kania, “Quantum Hegemony: China’s ambitions and challenge to U.S Innovation Leadership", The Centre for a New American Security, September 12, 2018). The Chinese and the U.S political, scientific and military authorities also study the way QIS will interact with the rapid militarization of artificial intelligence and decryption/encryption.

In the next article

In the next article of this series, we shall see how quantum computing is even more likely to impact the U.S. movie industry, especially in the field of “national security movies”. Indeed, the movies and TV industry is deeply dependent on the digital special effects production capabilities.  Those are, in turn, dependent upon specialised companies, themselves tied to cloud computing capabilities.

Si vis pacem …

The prodigious computing capabilities that quantum computing could develop will thus deeply impact Hollywood and the production of special effects and simulation. It will also have consequences for the U.S. Department of Defence. We may imagine those new simulation capabilities will be invaluable in order to plan the next generation of battles and warfare.

关于作者Jean-Michel Valantin (巴黎博士)领导红色(团队)分析协会的环境和地缘政治部。他的专业是战略研究和国防社会学,重点是环境地缘战略。

Featured image: Caleb George (https://unsplash.com/seemoris) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

由Dr Jean-Michel Valantin (PhD Paris)发布

Jean-Michel Valantin博士(巴黎博士)领导Red Team Analysis Society的环境与安全部。他的专业是战略研究和国防社会学,重点是环境地缘战略。他是《气候对世界秩序的威胁》(Menace climatique sur l'ordre mondial)、《生态学与世界治理》(Ecologie et gouvernance mondiale)、《战争与自然,美国准备气候战争》(War and nature: America gets ready for climate war)和《好莱坞、五角大楼和华盛顿》的作者。

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  1. Eh bien, nous sommes véritablement entrés collectivement et individuellement dans une nouvelle dimension ! Qui seront les gagnants ? et les partisans de défaites programmées… ?

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