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Quantum Computers- A Threat or A Boon?

Google, IBM and a handful of startups are racing to create the next generation of supercomputers. Quantum computers, if they ever get started, will help us solve problems, like modelling complex chemical processes, that our existing computers can’t even scratch the surface of.

If all the world had were water balloons, the guy with the Super Soaker would reign supreme. That’s essentially the situation with the arrival of quantum computers. They’re so powerful that it takes them mere hours to solve problems that would take modern computers years to work through.

What Is Quantum Computing?

So here’s the thing: experts predict that once quantum computers are up and running, they’ll be able to solve hidden subgroup problems in no time. That’s because while traditional computers manipulate every particle of information, or “bit”, as either an 0 or a 1, quantum bits or “qbits” can exist as 0, 1, and all points in between. That makes quantum computers millions of times more powerful than the computers that created those encryption algorithms. Nobody has created a quantum computer that can do anything of real importance yet, but it’s reasonable to assume they’ll be here sometime after 2025.

Quantum Is Coming

But the quantum future isn’t going to come easily, and there’s no knowing what it’ll look like when it does arrive. At the moment, companies and researchers are using a handful of different approaches to try and build the most powerful computers the world has ever seen. Here’s everything you need to know about the coming quantum revolution.

That means that the moment the first quantum computers turns on, encrypted data across the internet is pretty much up for grabs. That is, unless we do something about it.

I Am The Gatekeeper. Are You The Keymaster?

If you want to send a secret message — whether it’s military intelligence about enemy troops or your credit card number to buy a toaster online — you have to encrypt it. Encryption is a way of encoding a message so that only authorized parties can read it and nobody can eavesdrop on the transmission. To encrypt something, you need a cipher, which is an algorithm that converts the message into a scrambled mess of characters that can only be turned back into the original message using a special key.