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Law As A Lightsaber Guiding Towards The Bright Side of Quantum Computing

Matías Mascitti
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Lawyer and PhD in Law from the National University of Buenos Aires (UBA) and Visiting professor at the Center for Technology and Society at FGV Rio de Janeiro.

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1. Introduction

In this piece, I aim to illustrate how quantum computing (QC) could transform society and why it’s essential for law to channel its development for the common good. I used an interdisciplinary approach to connect Star Wars concepts with Quantum Field Theory (QFT), a framework combining classical fields, special relativity, and quantum mechanics (QM), which underpins QC.

2. Exploring the Connection Between QFT and the Star Wars Saga

In QFT, particles are manifestations of disturbances or fluctuations within the underlying quantum fields. QFT is the extension of QM, “dealing with particles, over to fields” (Kuhlmann). In turn, entanglement and superposition are the fundamental principles of QM. Quantum entanglement (QE) is a phenomenon where two or more particles become interconnected, behaving like a single entity (QE wins Nobel physics laurels). QE describes a correlation between quantum systems regardless of distance. When entangled, systems share a single wave function (particles exhibit wave-particle duality, meaning they can simultaneously behave as particles and waves), where actions on one system instantaneously affect others (Explore QE).

I first define the Force to bridge it with QFT. Echoing Yoda’s teachings to Luke Skywalker, the Force is depicted as the energy surrounding and binding us, as seen in “ Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980). In other words, the Force is an omnipresent energy field permeating all aspects of existence. Metaphorically, I say that the Force in Star Wars could be akin to quantum fields since they are energy that envelops us, i.e., they are the quantum theoretical generalizations of classical fields, e.g., electromagnetic fields. The Force sensitivity enables individuals to tap into the universal field, manifesting Force powers through training facilitated by the electromagnetic energy within their bodies. The bright and dark sides of the “force,” like the spectrum of electromagnetic frequencies, provide avenues for power expression, as seen with tools like lightsabers. Although QE’s effects may seem negligible on a macroscopic scale, the possibility that it could underpin the Force portrayed in Star Wars invites speculation into the profound implications of quantum phenomena on our understanding of the universe. For example, the Force bond is observed in the mind entanglement between Kylo Ren and Rey (Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017)). Expanding on this idea, midichlorians provide a theoretical explanation for why some individuals are more connected to the Force. These microscopic life forms reside within all living cells and act as symbionts, facilitating communication with the Force. Individuals with higher midichlorian levels, like Anakin Skywalker, have a biochemistry that enhances their connection to the Force, granting them greater sensitivity and control over its powers (Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)).

3. Unveiling The Promise of QC

We need to amplify entanglement to produce observable effects like the Force abilities depicted in Star Wars. Nevertheless, this requires substantial changes to atomic energies and human biochemistry. In this regard, QC’s manipulation of entanglement and superposition opens new paths to grasp and use the principles of interconnectedness and multiplicity central to the Force, even though it doesn’t directly replicate the abilities portrayed in Star Wars. QE enables parallelism, allowing multiple calculations simultaneously by manipulating many quantum bits (qubits) –i.e., the basic unit of information- in a single operation. Entanglement facilitates algorithms and protocols like quantum teleportation, enabling the transfer of quantum states between distant systems and error correction, enhancing QC’s capabilities beyond classical systems (Explore QE). Quantum teleportation is crucial for the development of the “quantum Internet” (Billings). This network of quantum computers offers innovative functionalities such as quantum cryptography and cloud computing, complementing the classical internet infrastructure. Finally, recent advancements in extending quantum networks lay the groundwork for larger-scale systems, although ongoing hardware refinement is necessary for this transformative technology implementation (Nellis).

In addition, unlike classical bits, which are 0 or 1, qubits encode information using quantum states like electron spin. This allows qubits to exist in a combination of states simultaneously, known as superposition. Hence, QM, leveraging its principles of superposition and entanglement, empowers QC to execute intricate computations at speeds beyond the reach of classical computers, e.g., factoring large numbers and optimizing logistics (Nellis). This increase in computational power enables the simultaneous exploration of exponentially more computational states and leads to significant commercial and scientific implications as we transition to a quantum economy. Also, QC’s vast computational power promises to enhance the Metaverse (see Ball) [today there are only proto-metaverses, i.e., small virtual universes (Mascitti)] by generating highly detailed and dynamic virtual environments in real-time, revolutionizing environment simulation with their rapid calculation abilities.

Although practical QC capabilities may still be a decade away, limitations such as computational overhead and data bandwidth constraints indicate that its primary strengths lie in solving small-data problems with exponential speedups (Gent). Nonetheless, QC holds immense potential for various practical applications, including search engines, optimization, simulation, and the integration of AI (Kaku), and for applications in finance, material science, and data encryption and storage. George Lucas could have envisioned that. For instance, the discovery of the Anakin midichlorian nivel through a blood test unveils the capacity to encode intricate signals like a blood sample, potentially containing extensive data, such as the genome and midichlorian counts, for near-instantaneous transmission. Given the substantial data volume, conventional methods would prove impractical due to slow download speeds. QC emerges as a plausible solution, offering notably enhanced data storage and transmission efficiency (see Johnson). China has spearheaded the most significant investments in QC, followed by IBM, Google, Microsoft, and D-Wave Systems, which have also contributed to its rapid advancements (Stellini). The main challenge for QC is achieving coherence among atoms, where they vibrate in unison. This fragility poses a significant obstacle to the reliability of QC (Kaku). Also, experts like LeCun and Troyer caution against overhyping the technology’s short-term prospects due to significant hurdles in error correction and scalability.

Beyond the potential benefits (bright side) of QC, it can be employed for malicious purposes (dark side) as it serves as a technological instrument (see Hildebrandt). As a mechanism for the Force use, the Jedi typically engage in slow or rational thinking, while the Sith are more prone to quick or emotional decisions (see Kahneman). Anakin’s transformation into Darth Vader (Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)) serves as a prime example, illustrating how fear and negative emotions can lead to the dark side of the Force. Jedi perceive the dark side as rooted in fear, hatred, and aggression. Some emotions, e.g., love, serve as a stepping stone to the negative ones, thus highlighting the complexity of emotional influence within the Force.

4. Law Role in Guiding the QC Emergence

At this point, I observe how the sensitization provoked by art connects with law. Let see. All thought has emotional content to varying degrees, according to some neuroscientists, e.g., Pessoa. Consequently, Jedi “untainted” thinking is impossible in humans. Therefore, in the Star Wars storyline, as we have seen, this human characteristic increases the probability of QC misuse. Hence, this “dark” use highlights that effective legal frameworks are essential to mitigate these risks and guide the responsible development of QC in tackling issues like monopolistic practices, data protection, and cybersecurity, where these concerns are heightened. The potential risks (including those not developed in this piece, e.g., IP) are further compounded when QC is integrated with generative AI, as noted by Runday.ai (see also Castelvecchi). For example, law should tackle monopolistic behavior in QC, similar to antitrust measures in the digital era [e.g., US Justice Department Sues Apple for Monopolizing Smartphone Markets; UE General Court, Case T-604/18 | Google and Alphabet v Commission (Google Android); UE Court of Justice, Case C-252/21, Meta Platforms Ireland, the operator of Facebook in the European Union (Meta)]. Also, law should enhance technological safeguards and increase transparency in AI algorithms integrated into QC, deterring undesirable behavior with algorithmic monetization as its goal. Furthermore, the law may set economic disincentives to attenuate the “enshittification” process based on those algorithms that generate a circle of rent accumulation that undermines competition (see Doctorow). Also, legal frameworks should deter monopolistic control of information, a threat showed in The Phantom Menace, where Darth Sidious consolidates total control over Naboo, symbolizing authoritarian dominance and suppression of dissent. Moreover, some individuals may exploit QC to hack bank records, private messages, and passwords worldwide by its rapid number-crunching ability. This could heighten data security risks. For instance, cryptocurrencies —which are used in the said proto-metaverses, rely on public key encryption, which is facing obsolescence due to the advent of large-scale QC. QC could compromise the security of various digital assets. Thus, it is crucial to prioritize the implementation of post-quantum cryptography -updates cryptographic algorithms to withstand QC threats (unlike quantum key distribution –which uses light photons for secure data transfer) since it aligns more closely with existing cryptographic methods, making it a more feasible and practical solution for ensuring security (see “Position Paper on Quantum Key Distribution”).

In addition to preventing QC misuse through law, it should also encourage its development for the common good [refers to outcomes that best serve the long-term survival and well-being of a collective society (Bozeman)]. QC’s ability to simulate nature at the molecular level enhances socio-imaginary models spanning past, present, and future, revealing nature’s adherence to quantum physics laws, typically imperceptible to us. In turn, QC could play a crucial role in understanding complex systems, predicting outcomes, and making informed decisions across diverse fields. As classical computers struggle to handle the exponential complexity of simulating large-scale systems, QC emerges as a game-changing technology, as noted by Phillip. This transformation could have implications for science, including its impact on law. This assertion is supported by the potential of this technological tool to enhance the rigor of the legal system information. Consider. Law is a complex object that can be approached from systems theory, as highlighted by Teubner and Golia. This perspective recognizes that the legal system interacts through information inputs and outputs with the cultural environment, which has been digitized. To that end, digital computation supports the legal system, not only in communication but also in organization. In turn, QC could enhance the predictive capabilities of the legal system, thus providing more reliable information. Lastly, in constitutional democracies, it is essential to develop a strategy for government investment (see Mazzucato) in quantum infrastructure and to establish regulatory control by State to promote a competitive and transparent market that aligns with human rights, the rule of law, and democracy.

5. Conclusion

In sum, I linked Star Wars and QFT, which contains QM. Advancements in QM could amplify QC’s transformative potential, necessitating strategic state investment to empower its responsible use. This strategy aims to enable companies and citizens to counteract QC misuse. Likewise, in constitutional democracies, state regulatory control could promote a fair and transparent market while upholding human rights, the rule of law, and democracy. Moreover, as a metaphorical connection to political intervention and the Force, politicians should emulate the Jedi order by advocating for a systemic approach to law that harmoniously integrates the past, present, and future, utilizing QC for the progressive composition of the common good (see Latour); unlike the “political Jedi” who pursue justice with short-term thinking (like Qui-Gon Jinn) and the “political Sith”, whose main purpose is the power accumulation. In short, the law should allow QC to be with us.

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