It’s pretty much a weekly occurrence for the world’s leading web world giant to be making a splash of some sort, and lately a good many of those splashes have been stark reminders of just how increasingly omnipotent Google has become in every aspect of digital life. On the one hand the way they’ve pushed the development of new technology has been of great benefit to all of u, while on the other there are times when we hear of news that makes you wonder if it’s a good idea to have so much power and influence consolidated in one pair of hands.
Here at 4GoodHosting, it’s safe to say we’re much the same as any other Canadian web hosting provider would be in the way we regard this. The nature of what we do gives us a very valid first-hand overview of such proceedings, and offering genuine perspective on it is really something that comes with the territory. It’s also likely safe to assume that the majority of those trusting their web presences to us will have you understanding of what would be meant by ‘quantum supremacy.’
That term is definitely trending online right given what’s recently been announced as it regards Google’s latest accomplishment. It certainly has the potential to be quite a pivotal development in the world and one that is maybe even a little ominous too (read on), so we’ll make it the topic for this week’s blog.
An End to Effective Encryption
A term that most of you will know, however, is encryption. To encrypt something is to keep it locked behind some sort of code that is nearly unbreakable for some and entirely unbreakable for most. Up until now, encryption has been the means by which digital files and the like have been effectively kept out of the hands of those who should not have access to them.
If what is being reported here now is true, however, Google’s new 53-qubit quantum computer has achieved ‘quantum supremacy’ and apparently it will soon come to mean that nothing is entirely secure, even with the best and most advanced encryption.
To give you an idea of what this new and ultimate supercomputer is able of doing, Google’s new quantum processor took just 200 seconds to complete a computing task that would normally require 10,000 years on a similar conventional machine. It’s being reported that A 53-qubit quantum computer can break any 53-bit cryptography in mere seconds, or in fractions of sections in certain circumstances.
What this is going to mean is that Google’s new ‘quantum supremacy’ is going to pretty much mean that cryptographic secrets are going to be a thing of the past. The standard for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and the like has been 256-bit encryption.
The reach of this goes beyond cryptocurrencies (and far beyond it in fact) but to give you an idea of what could go wrong here – once Google scales its quantum computing to 256 qubits, iBitcoin (and all 256-bit crypto) is available in its entirety since Google (or anyone with the technology) could easily break the encryption protecting all crypto transactions, then redirect all such transactions to its own wallet if that’s what it decides it wants to do.
Reaching Even Further
The revolutionary nature of it doesn’t stop there; all military-grade encryption has the potential to become useless as Google’s quantum computers expand their qubits into the 512, 1024 or 2048 range, which would render all modern cryptography obsolete. Google’s computer would have the ability to ‘crack’ even the most advanced cryptographic encryptions in less that a minute.
What’s being overcome here is this – classical computing is limited to only computing the correct factoring answers through brute force trial-and-error, and this needs massive computing power and time. Quantum computing has no such requirements or restrictions, it solves the factoring problem in 2^n dimensions, where n is the number of bits of encryption.
While traditional computing bits can only hold a value of 0 or 1 (not both), qubits have the ability to hold both values simultaneously. This means an 8-qubit computer can simultaneously represent all values between 0 and 255 at the same time.
This increased capacity will grow and grow and grow. The number of qubits in Google’s quantum computers are predicted to double at least every year, and industry experts agree that quantum computing power will very likely grow at a double exponential rate.
What this can be taken to mean is that Google will achieve > 100 qubits by 2020, > 200 qubits by 2021, and then > 400 qubits by approximately 2022. From there, once Google’s quantum computers exceed 256 qubits, all cryptocurrency encryption that uses 256-bit encryption will be null and void. And the problem is, that’s the vast majority of all cryptocurrency encryption that’s in use – and paid for.
What might be a little more disconcerting even is that by 2024 Google will be able to break nearly all military-grade encryption, rendering military communications fully transparent to them and making national security information non-private in ways it has never been before.
No one’s suggesting that much should be read into this development at this point, but it is safe to say that Google’s new 53-qubit quantum computer is going to be a major game changer when it comes the reliability of standard web encryption approaches. The saying ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ would seem to be very appropriate here.