China has enacted a bold drama of technological advances which are setting it on a path to become a global leader in a range of areas, from artificial intelligence (AI) to radical energy generation alternatives.
A newly emerging area, quantum technology (QT), is also providing a boost to the country. A recent example is one company's use of QT in creating a photo that offers startlingly high resolution.
Panoramic Images With a Punch
How clear is the photo in question? Well, according to its creator Jingkun Technology, which also goes by BigPixel, even the facial expressions of the people in the photo can be seen when zooming in from a distance of thousands of meters.
As imagined, it's creating a buzz:
Surely the best find pic.twitter.com/e3J54eSLLY— Cian (@ciannotseean) December 20, 2018
The company, which aims at "displaying a city with an image which integrates macro planning and micro life," recently unveiled the image created from a 24.9-billion-pixel camera. The goal, as they explain, is to "substitute narration with images and make virtual reality feel real."
Below are the details about the image, which was captured atop the Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai, China:
--> The resolution achieved in the photo is 195 gigapixels.
--> By BigPixel's estimation, the photo, and many like it, exceed the resolution precision capabilities of most cameras by more than 2,000 times.
--> The image is the first panorama created by the company, which means that it offered an array of subjects to showcase the capabilities of the technology.
--> A months-long effort, BigPixel reports that the assaulting city view was created using combined technologies.
Below are a pair of zoomed out and hauntingly zoomed in photos from North Korea and Phuket Island in Thailand:
QT's Uncertain Future and the Battle for Supremacy
As with all of the innovations of the 21st century, any discussion of QT's benefits to society must also be accompanied by an equally candid discussion of risks due to the use of the technology for secret or potentially dangerous aims.
The European Union (EU) is ramping up investments and resources to compete with China, with many countries now acknowledging the impact that QT will have in computing.
A race to take the lead is now fully underway, with the European Commission even issuing a Quantum Manifesto for Quantum Technologies back in 2016.
Amidst the already mounting skepticism about the use of AI in China's military, it does naturally beg the question of how this image-stiching technology could be utilized to secretly monitor millions of people from afar.
Although conspiracy theories are known to appear when discussions of geopolitics and technology are too closely discussed, it's the issue of transparency which continues to cast a shadow over even some of the beneficial and worthwhile advances from China.
As the debate continues, the images should be enjoyed for the masterpieces they are: they are like a virtual, and up close and personal, tour of East and Southeast Asia, offering stunning images from diverse locations, from North Korea to Phuket Islands.
The months of hard work and delicate image manipulation should be celebrated. Hopefully, for now, we can enjoy the breathtaking images for what they are, but still, keep an eye on the big picture implications.
You can navigate the 195 gigapixels of resolution image here.