Jormungand 22, or the week of quantum

In the past few episodes of Jormungand it’s been quite explicitly hinted that Koko’s Jormungand is actually a quantum computer designed by Dr Amada Minami. There are some problems however.


First of all, let me quote (an edited chat log from) the former editor of the series regarding quantum computers:

The idea is sound, but their feasibility is unproven. The problem is that quantum computers, as Vale’s paste elaborates, have no systematic foundation as of yet, and they don’t exactly run on binary logic. The computational logic we’ve used so far can’t be adapted either. Theoretically, given enough zeal and a Hall probe, they can be manufactured with today’s technology. There’s just no accepted way to convince them to calculate something and receive a reliable answer.

It’s one of the rare cases, where we can build something and have no idea how to use it. Quite ironic, really.

It should probably be pointed out that quantum computers are no blessing from God. They’re not astronomically fast and awesome in all respects, and even if they become practical, it’s very unlikely that they will entirely replace conventional computers.

My quote he mentions is from the wiki page on quantum computers, and it goes…

Currently, defining computation in such theories is an open problem due to the problem of time, i.e. there currently exists no obvious way to describe what it means for an observer to submit input to a computer and later receive output.


Quantum computers are theoretically fast when it comes to certain kinds of problems. These are usually the problems where they have a computation algorithm defined. Most governments and militaries fund quantum computing research for its uses in cryptography. Most of the current open key encryption algorithms are based on that it’s very difficult to find the prime factors of very big numbers that are the products of two likewise gargantuan primes. Quantum computers would make these encryption methods outdated – finding prime factors would take merely seconds instead of thousands of years as for conventional digital computers.


So what would this Jormungand be capable of? Well, unless Minami designed quantum algorithms for arbitrary scenarios, its only practical use would be breaking encryption. And it does just that: it breaks the military tactical datalink’s encryption, thus allowing Koko’s crew to modify the map data as they want (and since they’re already inside the system, they leave no traces). However…


Koko is supposed to be a rational, tactically thinking businesswoman, someone who always considers the risks and benefits. I can’t see how such a person could possibly think that her plan would work.

First of all, certain encryption algorithms wouldn’t be effected (much) by quantum computers. Even if Koko would make all aircraft around the world crash at once using Jormungand, it wouldn’t be long until first militaries and soon after civilian companies too switched over to for example McEliece. I also don’t understand how would she want to actually limit people’s access to ground, air and sea. Even if she can break communications and limit GPS through HCLI’s satellite network, I don’t see how would that enable her to control all logistics across the world. I’d say that most trucks for example don’t require GPS to run (it just assists the drivers), and I’m pretty sure most trains (except for the really high-tech lines) can run without it. Is she going to manually take control of every railway company’s complete signal control system and manually mess it all up? It’s just unfeasible, no matter how you break their encryption. Then what about analog communications?


The first shock would be devastating though, I must give her that. Killing 700 thousand people in one move, disabling GPS and disrupting communications would have a huge effect, and she would definitely change the world. Just consider how much the world’s changed from “just” a few hundred people dying in the 9/11 attacks.

Before her world peace could even start to realize, she’d be dead. I can’t imagine that with the CIA knowing about her plans, once she made a move they won’t be able to counter her in the matter of days (for example by switching over to other encryption methods, or simply disconnecting). She and her little crew would be bombed/assassinated/executed within a month. After all every single country on the globe would be after her! Every single military would send their best men after her. She won’t even be hard to find, considering she needs to stay connected in some way to the quantum computer.


No, dear Koko, you’re really better off not doing it.

This entry was posted by Vale.

3 thoughts on “Jormungand 22, or the week of quantum

  1. Well you certainly wouldn’t need a quantum computer to disable GPS… And why not just use some EMP nukes to take down commercial flights? She’s a weapons dealer, no?

  2. Fun read. I really was kind of disappointed by her ultimate plan of quantum magitek. But I’m pretty sure 9/11 was closer to several thousand deaths… just to nitpick =P

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