Quantum Computers May Become Weapons of Mass Destruction, Claims Top Physicist

Monday, 14 August 2017 - 10:08AM
Technology
Physics
Monday, 14 August 2017 - 10:08AM
Quantum Computers May Become Weapons of Mass Destruction, Claims Top Physicist
Image credit: Pixabay
It's kind of fun that we're at the point now that binary computers are being called "classical computers" by industry experts.

A recent conference held in Moscow, called the International Conference on Quantum Technologies, found scientists from around the world coming together to discuss the future of quantum computers, considered by many to be the next major development in technology. Essentially, this quantum computing works by ditching traditional 1s and 0s in computer bits in favor of "qubits" which are measured by protons that are capable of existing in two different states at the same time, exponentially increasing a computer's speed at tackling really big, otherwise unwieldy calculations.



Great, right? Faster computers for everyone shouldn't really have a drawback, should it?

Except, of course, that it depends on what you're doing with that computer power. At the conference, Alexander Lvovsky, Professor of Physics at the University of Calgary and Quantum Optics Group Leader at the Russian Quantum Center, spoke about how he feels the technology will probably end up being used as "tools of destruction, not creation".

According to Lvovsky, a quantum computer isn't about to create a new weapon of traditional war, but something just as deadly to global security: faster computational speeds means faster hacking, and that means that modern security systems are soon going to be even more susceptible to attacks than they are at present (besides, let's face it, they're already not great). In fact, Lvovsky claims that no cryptographic security system exists that can stand up to quantum computing, meaning that once the door is opened to it, quantum computers will change the face of cyber-security—or crater it.

We've already seen just how seriously governments around the world take security leaks—for the most part, these are treated as acts of terrorism or treason in large part because allowing sensitive information to leak can endanger lives and cause incalculable damage to the world economy. That's to say nothing of the potential damage to the stock market, savings, finances, medical records, and a whole host of other incredibly important systems that require security in order to operate properly.


This is a bigger issue than the leaking of a few episodes of Game of Thrones or some WhatsApp messages—if quantum computational technology falls into the wrong hands, then nobody will be able to keep data safe for very long. But just as quantum computers can be put to use to break encryption, they can be used to reinforce current security to make things more difficult for would-be data thieves. An encryption arms race has been raging for decades already, and engineers are, by and large, far more prepared to adapt things now than they were when, say, the Millennium Bug was the big fear on everybody's minds. This isn't the end of cyber-security—it's just a new, weirder chapter.
Science
Science News
Technology
Physics
No