Quantum computers most likely won’t become available to the masses in the foreseeable future. Still, tremendous research effort from parties like Google, IBM, and leading Chinese universities propel quantum technology forward at an exciting – and equally alarming – rate.
For some perspective on the implications of quantum computing, a 54-qubit quantum chip unveiled by Google in 2019 completed a test computation in about 200 seconds. A traditional supercomputer would have taken approximately 10,000 years to do the same.
More recently, China has claimed to have produced a quantum computer, a million times faster than Google’s, capable of making a calculation in one millisecond that would take the world’s fastest conventional computer 30 trillion years.
From the earliest times in recorded human history, new technologies have found use in both positive and negative lights. The same goes for quantum computing, which promises monumental advancements and horrific side effects, some of which are described below.
Cryptography & Cybersecurity
The good – fortified cryptographic algorithms and threat detection measures
In theory, quantum computing along with a quantum Internet will give birth to unhackable encryption keys, granting more advanced cyber defenses to businesses and a dramatically increased degree of privacy to individuals.
Quantum computing also enables novel concepts such as quantum key distribution (QKD), where communicating parties can quickly detect eavesdropping via anomalies in transferred data. Technologies like QKD will form the backbone of a well-guarded quantum Internet, elevating cybersecurity measures to an entirely new level. Problem is, without a quantum Internet, quantum computers alone won’t get us there.
The bad – threat to privacy and the world’s digital information
To improve our cyber defenses, we need BOTH quantum computers to help us improve encryption algorithms and quantum Internet to secure communications.
The issue is, this quantum “duo” is decades (if not longer) away, and quantum computers will be here sooner because research into quantum networks is in its infancy. Without the protection measures enabled by quantum Internet, quantum computers will destroy even the most sophisticated encryption algorithms we have today.
The security of many modern cryptographic methods relies on the fact that prime factorization of large numbers can take thousands of years; this makes brute-forcing cryptographic keys unfeasible.
This won’t be the same for quantum computers; they can find the prime factors of a 2048-bit number in just minutes compared to the millions of years classical computers would take. Quantum computers can and will decrypt any file protected with traditional cryptographic methods unless we start enhancing our defenses right now.
Timing is key here. We may not see protected quantum networks for a very long time after quantum computers enter the scene. Therefore, businesses that choose to neglect quantum tech will be left defenseless against the inevitable threat of quantum computing.
The good – more capable artificial intelligence (AI) models
AI has permeated many aspects of human lives by improving the accuracy of genome analysis and by powering search engines. But despite recent advancements in AI technology, it’s severely constrained by limited computing resources.
Here’s where quantum computers enter the game.
Quantum computers will allow us to create more sophisticated algorithms that locate patterns more efficiently and make decisions faster. Furthermore, quantum computing will enable the transition to so-called “strong AI” models that will develop and improve themselves with little to no human input.
The bad – invasive and potentially dangerous AI algorithms
Strong AI – sometimes called artificial general intelligence or AGI – is a double-edged sword, just like quantum computing.
What if AGI, rather than supporting humanity, decides to impose a totalitarian regime on humanity to establish “peace”? AGI is thus a concerning area on its own, but quantum computing may force us to tackle it sooner than later.
Science and Research
The good – accelerated science and research efforts
Quantum computing may give a huge push to research efforts in areas like:
- Healthcare and pharma: Quantum computing may be the missing link to discovering cures, such as for cancer or Alzheimer’s disease.
- Forecasting and prediction: From more accurate weather forecasts to the prediction of traffic jams and disease outcomes, quantum computers may one day be able to help us save lives and prevent property damage.
- Car safety: Accelerated research of new technological solutions can foster the development of self-driving technology, enable safer car design, and automate quality assessments.
The bad – ethics and questionable applications
When it comes to science and research, quantum computing raises a wide array of ethical questions. For instance:
- What if quantum computing is used for malicious purposes, like creating new harmful materials or harmfully manipulating the human genome?
- What if small groups of people or countries gain an unparalleled edge in geopolitical, military, or scientific matters thanks to quantum computing?
- In healthcare, the predictive powers of quantum computers may enable the accurate assessment of people’s health risks. What if this information impacts employment decisions or negatively affects the mental health of patients?
Prepare for the Quantum Future with Quantropi
Quantropi’s mission is to deliver novel cryptographic solutions that secures the world’s data and communications from classical and quantum threats. Forever. Quantum computing will be devastating in the hands of malicious actors, and organizations must start proactively future-proofing their IT infrastructures today. A “when, not if” mindset is critical for post-quantum business continuity. Quantropi is the answer for businesses that aren’t quite sure how to prepare for the realities of tomorrow.