You are probably aware that most computers use binary digits (bits) to do their thing. Each binary digit is either a 1 or a 0 – a bit like a light bulb, which is either on or off. The picture on the screen in front of you is an illusion, created by a programme which is nothing more than a string of ones and zeroes – a big number.
Of course binary computers are getting to be old hat now with the emergence of quantum computers (introduced by Richard Feynman) and variations such as ‘boson-sampling computers‘. The quantum world seems to be very strange. The sub-atomic particles involved (Bosons) have an advantage over bits, in that they demonstrate ‘superpostion‘. They can be both on and off at the same moment, in two places at once and spin in opposite directions at the same time!
These ideas are strangely related to an email which is supposedly going viral at the moment. The email was sent by the British Managing Partner (Andrew McGinty) based in Shanghai, of a large, global law firm to all the highly paid lawyers in his office.
Mr McGinty has ruled that his lawyers must be at their desks by 09:15 each day, regardless of whether they have had to work late the night before. His rationale is that their high remuneration is designed to reward them for working long hours, and that if their support staff can make it in, so should they.
The lawyers in question feel outraged by the email, seeing it as old-fashioned and out of date. Not just because they have to be available for conference calls with colleagues in London or New York in the middle of the night. But also because in the age of tablets and smart phones, they argue that they can work wherever they are.
After reading this article I found myself in a boson-like state of superpostion! As an advocate of Liberatory Technology I agree with the lawyers that their technology should free them from an office regime. As someone who has employed consultants and built successful teams, I know the value of getting people together and setting examples, thus I have sympathy for Mr McGinty.
On reflection, it is not uncommon for us to see both sides of an argument; of both agreeing and disagreeing at the same time. If we let them, our minds naturally step up to an executive level, where we can take multiple perspectives on the problem domain. Such a capacity is integral to our natural genius.
The challenge is that our societies are built on digital computing rules – right or wrong, left or right, good or bad – a world of opposites and extremes. However we humans occupy worlds with many shades of colour, not just black and white. We are more like quantum computers, both right and wrong at the same time – we need laws to be interpreted, not obeyed.
Both gravity and love use the quantum world to their advantage, and get their way by attractive means; perhaps there is a lesson there for Mr McGinty.