quantum computing

Computing using quantum-mechanical phenomena, such as superposition and entanglement. A quantum computer is different from an electronic computer in that common digital computing requires the data to be encoded into binary digits (bits), each of which is always in one of two definite states (0 or 1). Quantum computation on the other hand, uses quantum bits or qubits, which can be in superpositions of states.

Historical perspective: The field of quantum computing was initiated by the work of Paul Benioff and Yuri Manin in 1980, Richard Feynman in 1982, and David Deutsch in 1985. A quantum Turing machine is a theoretical model of this type of computer and is also known as the universal quantum computer. As of 2018, the development of actual quantum computers is still in its infancy.

In December 2018, The Week published an expert update on quantum computing and asked, is it a threat to encryption? According to The New York Times, the race is on to protect data from the super-powerful machines of the future: quantum computers. And China is bounding ahead. The largest technology companies are still working to actually build the first quantum computer; in the meantime, they’re also focusing on encryption that relies on the same concepts from the world of physics. Why? Quantum computers use the properties of subatomic-level particles to perform calculations at speeds many orders of magnitude faster than today’s machines. That raw computing power could break the encryption that protects digital information, putting at risk everything from the billions of dollars spent on e-commerce to national secrets stored in government databases. Enter quantum encryption. This, too, uses quantum properties, but to protect data, by making it evident if a message has been intercepted. If done properly, the technique could be unbreakable. China has invested tens of millions of dollars building networks that can transmit data using quantum encryption.

There are currently no functioning quantum computers—and there may never be any, according to IEEE Spectrum. However the MIT Technology Review says the U.S. needs to be prepared. A report from the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine says we need to speed up preparations for the time when super-powerful quantum computers can crack conventional cryptographic defenses. The biggest challenge will be developing a quantum-proof standard and then getting industries to upgrade their hardware and software to meet them. If hackers get their hands on quantum computing technology before there’s widespread quantum encryption, the result could be a security and privacy nightmare.

NetLingo Classification: Net Technology