Cryptocurrency enthusiasts fear the impact quantum computers could have.
Some digital goods could fall victim to quantum computers.
In the future, quantum machines could be made available to the masses, or at least criminals.
Chinese researchers have created a quantum computer that is ten billion times faster than Google’s prototype. We explain why this is a new milestone and what it means for the crypto sphere.
What are quantum computers?
A quantum computer is an extremely powerful computing machine that can process information about 100 trillion times faster than a traditional computer. This type of power is very useful for processing large amounts of data, modeling circuits and many other possibilities that will only be discovered over time.
However, this technology comes with a dark side. Researchers believe quantum computers can completely dismantle computer security as we know it. With such data processing power, no code will take more than an instant to analyze. This means that quantum computers can read terabytes of data in just one second and therefore crack the cryptographic code.
For example, bank transactions and messages are encrypted using the RSA algorithm. To decipher RSA, it would take a normal computer hundreds, if not thousands of years. A quantum computer can crack RSA cryptography in minutes.
IBM Q Europe Ambassador Mark Mattingley-Scott explained the progress of quantum computer research:
We are now at the stage where we have quantum computers and where we can use them. We are able to program them. We are looking for a way to make them more industrializable and more stable, as well as robust technologies. We learn to write algorithms for them. We work on different types of quantum computing.
Mattingley-Scott is sure humanity is ready for machines like this. He also thinks that we are prepared to take the consequences.
How do quantum computers work?
A quantum computer, unlike a traditional computer, does not work with bits or bites (a unit of information in a dual computing system) but with quantum bits, or qubits. This technology speeds up computer processing hundreds of times.
The hardware is also more complex than that of its predecessors. There are more parts than a traditional computer, and the device must be constantly cooled.
What quantum computers are on the market?
Prototypes of quantum computers appeared at the end of the 20th century. In the fall of 2019, Google presented its most recent developments and demonstrated the enormous possibilities of quantum computing.
A NASA experiment showed that it took three minutes and 20 seconds for the machine to perform the same calculations that would have taken 10,000 years for the most powerful traditional supercomputer of the time.