Quantum Computers Are Coming. The World Might Not Be Ready.

Commentary By: Albert Mascheroni

The mark of the beast’s (Revelation 13:17) mainframe computer. Mainframe computers (colloquially referred to as “big iron”)

And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as ‘IRON’ is not mixed with clay. – Daniel 2:43

View full post at: https://www.facebook.com/al.masch.50/posts/578273095685708

Commentary In Response to Article By: David Shipley, Bloomberg View

Quantum mechanics, Carl Sagan once observed, is so strange that

“common sense is almost useless in approaching it.”

Scientists still don’t understand exactly why matter behaves as it does at the quantum level. Yet they’re getting better at exploiting its peculiar dynamics — in ways that may soon upend the technology business.

1 of the most interesting applications is in computing. In theory, quantum computers could take advantage of odd subatomic interactions to solve certain problems far faster than a conventional machine could. Although a full-scale quantum computer is still years off, scientists have lately made a lot of progress on the materials, designs & methods needed to make 1. And that could have some striking benefits.

Quantum computers could simulate how atoms & molecules behave, to the great advantage of chemists & drug designers. They could solve optimization problems — say, how to efficiently route airplane traffic — far faster than current technology can. They could speed advances in artificial intelligence, improve sensors & lead to the design of stronger & lighter industrial materials.

Quantum Leap
Competition in quantum technologies is increasingly global. Unsurprisingly, then, investment in the field is surging. IBM,Microsoft & Google are all building quantum research labs. Startups are gearing up. Banks are very interested indeed. Governments see applications for space exploration, medical research & intelligence-gathering. America’s National Security Agency, in fact, has been quietly trying to build a quantum computer for years, in the hope that it would make an unstoppable code-breaker. And that suggests a looming problem.

To simplify a bit, the cryptographic tools commonly used to protect information online rely on very hard math problems, such as factoring large integers, that normal computers can’t solve in a reasonable time frame. Quantum computers, though, could probably make quick work of such equations. As a result, they could undermine the security of everything from mobile phones to e-commerce to cloud computing. W/in 2 decades, by some estimates, quantum computers may be able to break all public-key encryption now in use.

“The impact on the world economy,” says the nonprofit Cloud Security Alliance, “could be devastating.”

As dire as that sounds, panic isn’t in order just yet. Researchers are already working on “quantum-resistant” encryption. Some companies claim to have made significant progress in the field. Google, among others, is working on a new form of security for its browser that might rebuff a quantum algorithm. Although a lot more research is needed, standards agencies around the world are well aware of the problem. Yet some vigilance is still advisable.

Businesses, in particular, should pay attention. Many have files that must be stored for years, for legal or commercial reasons. But woefully few have a long-term strategy for protecting them. That’s especially worrisome bc w/out precautions, sensitive records — medical files, financial data, trade secrets — that are stored using today’s encryption could potentially be exposed by quantum computers.

Governments could also help. Quantum computing requires competence in physics, computer science & engineering, & that makes it hard to find qualified workers. Public investment in basic quantum-science research would help build a skilled workforce, boost technical know-how & generally lay the groundwork for a promising new field. It could also speed the development of stronger cryptography. More cooperation between Silicon Valley & the government, not on notable display recently, could be invaluable in this regard.

In short, common sense isn’t useless in approaching quantum computers; it may be the best way to prepare for an era of thrilling strangeness.

View full article at: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-09-06/quantum-computers-are-coming-the-world-might-not-be-ready

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