Nov. 13, 2041
ATLANTA–In what AOL Interactive researchers are calling a “freak accident,” AOL VP Emeritus and Turner Classic Montana governor Ted Turner vanished late yesterday while touring the company’s special research facilities. “It was like nothing I’ve ever seen,” exclaimed Chris Burutu, a witness and AOL technician. “Mr. Turner had sort of broken off from the group and was just sort of looking at some equipment and then, zip, he was gone. Just disappeared, into thin air. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself.”
At the time of his disappearance, Turner was being briefed on research developments at AOL that enable the company to “Interactivize” classic movies from its vast film library. “Imagine ‘Gone with the Wind’ if the South had won the war,” explained Turner himself at a gala launch event last week. “I know I do. What if Bogie and Bergman stayed together in the end? Or, what if those ferrets in ‘Beastmaster’ were frogs, or snakes? Our new interactive technology is going to let people answer those questions. The movies will adapt to your input. They’ll be what you want them to be.”
The technology that makes Turner’s Interactivization possible relies on the peculiarities of quantum computation and storage. Rather than engage in the expensive and time-consuming process of digitally simulating alternative versions of classic films, AOL instead runs each film through a Quantum Computational Superposition Codec that places each of the film’s bits in a state of quantum indeterminacy known as superposition. The encoded film is then stored in granules maintained near absolute zero and embedded in a super-insulating platter. When the consumer pushes play, the player decodes the bits, resolving the indeterminacies in a manner consistent with the input and preferences of the consumer.
“This is nothing less than the everlasting gobstopper of movie entertainment,” Turner declared to the AOL Press Corps at the launch event. “You can watch the movie again and again, and it will always be different, will always fit your mood.”
Early reviews of the technology are less sanguine: “There’s some real potential with this technology, but, at this point, it’s only for early adopters” opines Consumer Reports hardware reviewer Ted Kaz. “Because of the computational demands, the players are a bit on the pricey side, and the variability in the movies is still fairly limited. To decrease the workload on the decoders, the majority of elements in the film are still fixed. You can’t, for example, cast Barbara Stanwyck in place of Vivien Leigh. Later generations of the technology will give consumers more flexibility and be more appealing from a price-performance perspective.”
Reports confirm that Turner disappeared while inspecting AOL facilities which run their new Superposition Codec, and conflicting eye-witness accounts suggest that Turner was looking at, and possibly poking, some sensitive equipment at the moment he vanished.
Theories concerning the cause of Turner’s disappearance abound. “I suspect that Turner somehow accidentally flipped himself, caused himself to enter a state of superposition which was resolved against his continued existence,” opines M.I.T. professor of quantum math Edna Hem. “Objects of Turner’s size don’t typically become indeterminate because of their interactions with the environment. However, there’s nothing in principle to prevent it. His proximity to their ‘Superposition Codec’ probably isn’t a coincidence. It certainly makes more sense than ‘spontaneous combustion.'”
Though County officials only consider Turner to be missing, reports are that plans for a memorial service have already begun, including a publicly broadcast wake, and a mile-long procession of Turner Classic Bison through the streets of Atlanta.