Vice season 6, episode 18 recap: ‘A New Leaf and Quantum Supremacy’


On the latest episode of Vice, the show takes its first segment took a look at the Columbian drug trade.

Despite the fact that the country has just signed a peace deal with the FARC revolutionaries that resulted in the Nobel Peace Prize, the country’s struggle against cocaine is alive and well.

Before the army troops out on patrol go in and take out the planted coca plants (the base plant for cocaine), dogs go in and sniff the fields for mines. While their efforts are admirable, the current struggle is not working, as the cocaine business has grown massively in the last few years.

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It is strongly suggested that a big reason for the massive cocaine industry is because, in those parts of the country, cocaine is the major industry responsible for people’s income.

But it appears that people taking the coca plants aren’t unaware of this, as the government troops rip out of the plants, but purposefully neglect to take the leaves. Since the leaves are what new coca plants are grown from, that defeats the entire purpose of uprooting the plants.

Later, Vice actually went to a coca field and witnessed the harvesting of the plant. The process of making cocaine itself, just like any other drug, is incredibly complex and many of the workers only know one stage of the complicated process. Indeed, in some parts of the country, just the coca paste is valuable enough that it’s used as currency.

But that’s not to say people aren’t trying other crops, as keeping with the new peace agreement and a government initiative, some farmers are trying to grow an entirely new product; cacao, also known as the plant chocolate is made from.

It is rather uncanny that coca and cacao are spelled so similar. Since a new government is coming into power in Columbia, this substitution agreement may change. If that occurs, it means many farmers will go back to growing coca plants.

The other segment was a look at the state of quantum computers and the potentials and perils this technology has. A quantum computer would have abilities far beyond those of computers we use every day, as they could decode information much faster. The applications these could have is truly mind-boggling.

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But with any great advance in technology comes a great risk and fear for what the applications of that advancement may mean. The tremendous opportunities posed by quantum computers is being explored by the Chinese in particular, as a strong emphasis is being placed on their technological center.