The Cloudy Future of Computing

IQM is building task specific 5 qubit quantum computers for clients in finance and medicine where it has benefit today over classical machines | Source: IQM

It doesn’t come as a surprise to many that data security and information safety is a significant concern in the digital age. Just in the past two decades, internet users have been frequently bombarded by news of yet another data breach or information leak. Take the Yahoo 2013 data breach: one of the largest leaks of information in history, affecting nearly all of Yahoo’s 3 billion users. Or look to the 2018 Marriott Hotels data breach, where the information of hundreds of millions of guests, including passports, identification, and more, was threatened to be misused. These attacks, while varying in nature, were common in the encryption they threatened to break: the RSA Algorithm. This algorithm, named after Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Leonard Adleman, was designed to keep the most powerful computers in the world from breaking through computaitonal barriers, using the large prime ideology to encrypt and decrypt large data sets. These mishaps can lead one to clearly see that encryption is a vital part of safety on the internet, however, the traditional RSA problem may not suffice in the future of the digital age. So what can? A new player may come in the form of quantum computing. 

For many years, the power of quantum computing has been known, but a number of people struggle to truly define its nuance. For those reading that find themselves in that group, a quantum computer is essentially a manifestation of many quantum science concepts such as superposition, entanglement, and interference into a device that provides computation for a given problem. In the past, many conventional computer systems have used simple units of operation using bits by simply functioning on bits that are either represented as a 0 or a 1. On the other hand, quantum computers employ a different representation of this idea; a quantum computer uses both of these positions at the same time. Using a similar construct to a bit, a qubit is where both the positions one and zero exist at the same time, allowing for the definition of superposition to be applied. This asynchronous existence in both states allows for more computation possibilities to occur. This constant computation allows for an unprecedented amount of power that could be used for good or harm.

In many cases, one would think that this newfound power is an immense tool in the grand scheme of things, especially in tactical conflict. Take this for example: in war, several messages are sent that are non-RSA conforming, so therefore, it would possibly take weeks to decrypt the contents of this message. But, using the power of the aforementioned qubits and how their superpositions allow for maximum efficiency the entire landscape of how wars are fought could change. Not only that, technology is a huge part of warfare, and the rise of one thing helps another rise as well. But considering the possible internal benefits of this technology, many organizations and people also worry about the consequences. 

Considering the power that quantum computing has is a big part of its wonder, but what one should also consider is the sheer amount of information on the internet that could be compromised if the opportunity quantum were to be placed in the wrong hands. Millions of people and their personal information could be compromised at the snap of a finger. According to TechMonitor, the breaches that were mentioned earlier would only be increased due to the extreme efficiency that quantum computing has. So, without regulation of any type, the consequences of this technology could outweigh the benefits. 

In the digital age of today, encryption and data transfer are of the utmost importance to keep the wheel of the internet going. With the entrance of quantum computing especially, the power that one person could have would be something unprecedented. So, the regulation to keep balance would prevent significant breaches of information from occurring.

About the Author

Sree Atyam
Hi! My name is Sree and it's nice to meet you! I am a junior and I live in 1505 D-Wing. In my free time, you might see me listening to music, playing basketball, or cooking food! Feel free to drop by any time to chat!

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