Investment Strategy

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“Want to make money?” The presenter, who claims his name is Rich Gold, bounds across the stage. He seems to gaze simultaneously into the eyes of everyone in the audience. “There are only two possibilities: yes or no.”
Fast Fingers Freddie squirms in a fake leather chair. He stares down at his phone, which has been hijacked by the seminar. Insolvent? the screen asks. QUIT now! And then: QUantum Insurance Technology. Your guarantee of a prosperous future. He turns it off. Fingers doesn’t want to be here, doesn’t want to listen to a hyperactive adolescent spout get-rich-quick motivational slogans, doesn’t want to sign up to certain death. But what choice does he have? In a world in which financial transactions are quantum secured, an honest crook like himself stands little chance.
“QUIT… and this could be yours.” Gold pulls a scarlet token from the back pocket of his jeans, casually flicks it in the air, lets it drop into his palm. Fingers recognises the token: a blockchained chip worth a fortune, like old-fashioned cash only better. “You’ve raised objections. I’ve answered them. Let’s recap, see what you’ve learned. Objection one: it’ll be messy. Anyone?”
A middle-aged woman, the seminar's only female attendee, raises a hand. Fingers suspects she’s a plant. “It doesn’t have to be shotgun. You offer cyanide capsules and potassium chloride injections.”
“Excellent.” Gold fist-pumps the air. The woman smiles primly. “Objection two: religion forbids suicide.”
A young man in the front row gets reluctantly to his feet after Gold points to him. “It ain’t suicide. Can’t be if you’re still breathing.”
“Outstanding. Always remember Ecclesiastes 9-5: ‘The living know they’ll die, but the dead know nothing’”. Gold mimes a slam dunk. “Objection three: a tontine sounds complicated. And foreign.”
Fingers knows the man who responds, a thug who in simpler times specialised in extortion. “A tontine is the oldest form of life insurance. Investors put money into a pot. When an investor dies, the shares get divided between those who are left. Last one standing takes the pot.”
Gold makes a see-saw motion with his hand. “Correct, as far it goes. But remember that tontines were once commonplace, just an ordinary investment strategy.”
“Yeah,” someone laughs. “One in which beneficiaries develop an interest in the reduced lifespan of fellow investors. Tontines lead to some — unnatural deaths!”
“Focus on life,” Gold urges. He adopts a Wonder Woman power-pose. “Each of you will be the sole survivor of this tontine. Each of you wins.”
“That’s the part I don’t understand,” says the man sitting next to Fingers. “We all pay to join the tontine. I get that. But how can we all win? Makes no sense.”
The presenter sighs. “Can someone help this gentleman?”
The middle-aged woman stands up. “We each take a QUIT box. Inside is a quantum system in a superposition of spin-up and spin-down states. Each time the box measures the system, the universe cleaves in two. If it observes spin-up nothing happens. If it observes spin-down it fires the bullet, cracks the cyanide capsule, or injects the needle.”
“Precisely,” Gold shouts. “The world splits with each quantum measurement. But here’s the thing. Your consciousness flows only to a universe in which spin-up is measured! You can’t possibly experience a spin-down measurement. QUIT boxes are programmed so that each member of the tontine experiences a universe in which they inherit the pot.”
“Less ten percent,” the thug notes.
“Overheads,” Gold says smoothly. “Any other concerns?”
The young man from the front row slowly raises his hand. “My Pa is a physicist, and we talked about this, and he mentioned Copenhagen or Stockholm or somewhere, and I…”
“Pa is an idiot! Go into a room, close the door, and operate the QUIT box. According to Pa, until he checks on the state of your health you’re both dead and alive. I can see how he might be unsure in your particular case, but otherwise he's making zero sense. Nada. Zilch.” Gold adopts his power-pose again. “So. Want to make money? Want to join the tontine?”
Fingers watches as the others get to their feet. Most shuffle sheepishly to the exit under Gold's angry glare. The woman is the first to hand over money; definitely a plant, Fingers decides. The thug buys a box and then, to Fingers’ surprise, so does the young man. Soon the room empties and only one box remains.
Gold steps down off the stage and ambles over to Fingers. “You know the entry fee. You know how much you’ll have when the tontine ends. Best investment you’ll ever make.”
“Hmm. It bothers me.”
“What does? I answered all objections.”
“I keep wondering about the world you’ll observe when the tontine ends.”
Gold shrugs. “My consciousness will flow into all versions of the universe, but in each I’ll experience only one version. I’ll observe one winner of the tontine, but I can’t know now who that'll be. In one world it'll be you.”
Fingers shakes his head. “Perhaps nobody wins? If your box kills every member of the tontine you get to keep the pot. With no-one around to complain.”
Gold roars with laughter and throws an arm around Fingers. “Stick with Ponzi schemes, old man. High-tech is obviously lost on you.”
Fast Fingers Freddie returns the consoling back pat, makes his move, then watches Gold stroll to his waiting driverless car. Once the vehicle is gone Fingers examines the scarlet disk resting in his palm. Like cash, only better. He can easily launder this before he alerts the authorities. Sometimes, he reflects, low-tech ways offer the best investment strategy.

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I'm endlessly fascinated by the quantum world!