Quantum Computers are not like “normal” computers. They don’t use the transistors or chips that the machine that you are reading this blog on uses. They are designed to exploit the bizarre world of quantum mechanics and in particular these two concepts:
- Quantum superposition: This holds that physical systems, like an electron, exist in all their theoretically possible states but, when measured, it gives a result of only one of the possible states.
- Quantum entanglement: This describes how particles, such as electrons and molecules, interact physically with each other and then go their separate ways.
Exciting stuff isn’t it? Well, sadly it is to me.
Gentle reader, you should at least care about what it means to us all. The bottom line is that it will change computing dramatically and forever. These machines will be able to search large databases in a fraction of the time that it takes today, factoring large numbers and also be able to work on extremely complex encryption algorithms. See what’s happening here? The security algorithms (like RSA) that we rely on today will be broken in seconds; brute force attacks using databases will crush controls effortlessly. Your puny passwords will be toast!
What does it all mean I hear you say? Well, it means that we have to face up to it and invent new controls that match the power of these machines. These efforts are already underway and more will follow. In the meantime for heaven’s sake change your passwords and make them tougher! (See previous blog: Internet Passwords)
Beam me up, Scotty.
Quote: Quantum computation is… a distinctively new way of harnessing nature… It will be the first technology that allows useful tasks to be performed in collaboration between parallel universes – David Deutsch