by Philipp and Lukas
Today most of the processes in a city are computer-controlled. Mobile phones, security devices like cameras and traffic lights, everywhere has technological progress come to. How would the human world look like, if all of this progress wasn´t safe anymore? Could humanity manage the jump to a new era, in which the quantum computer covers our daily life, without many crashes?
Google and many other companies (Atos, Atom computing, Intel, Huawei, IBM Q, d wave) research quantum computer since many years. Quantum computers are processors with a huge amount of computing power. That comes, since these processors use quantum states called super positions, which is a physical phenomenon, in which single particles can take on several states of zero or one at once. Whereas normal computers use bits, in which only one of two states can be chosen, a quantum computer doesn´t have to choose the physical state, so that the count of chosen states raises exponentially with the number of Quantum bits, the tiny units, each of which can take on two states. With every new Q-Bit the quantum computer doubles its computing power, so that quantum computers are already extremely faster than normal computers. As an example, a problem, which can be solved by a super computer in about 10,000 years, is easily solved by a quantum computer in less than 200 seconds. The biggest most serious quantum computers have about fifty Q-Bits, which is enough to solve those problems. Furthermore, quantum computers use the quantum entanglement, a phenomenon, used to bring information from one Q-Bit to another in less time than light needs. This technology is used to simplify the computing operations.
Seeing the development of quantum computers nowadays, the question comes up, if the human infrastructure could survive an upgrade to quantum computers that could happen soon. With normal computers in infrastructure, daily life and institutions like the hospital the cryptography would be in danger. What happens, if quantum computers are released, whereas humanity isn´t prepared? Can´t the quantum computers crack our cryptography in less than 200 seconds, too? Well yes, that looks like a real big deal for hackers. Having a quantum computer in a world of normal computers is like being a seeing person in a blind society. If this new radical change could revolutionize the humanity, everybody would have to fear a big brother society. Firstly, an authoritarian state could use this technology to survey the whole society and the official as well as the private lives. The quantum computer could precisely be used to search for the right people in official places or even recognize human feelings, so that an authoritarian regime would get much more easily to regime-critics. Secondly private persons with enough computer science skill could get force and influence over the whole world, if they use infrastructural weaknesses. The one person with a quantum computer would need not more than five minutes, in most cases, to get access to almost everything. With today´s cryptography there would be a high chance, that a device would get hacked. A hacker could at first try to get access to a big company comparable to google, after that send an official email with a virus in it to every single google account, while he is hacking some institutions like hospitals or schools, connected to other schools. After he has access to many official institutions and at least some, maybe many google accounts, that are hacked, as some people opened the Email, he has access to at least half of the world.
Obviously, it is not the way to go and right now there aren´t quantum computers on the market, however with quantum computers upcoming soon, there has to be a new way of encryption. One idea would be a difficult way about quantum particles that would be transported from one person to the other, called quantum encryption. This way one could exchange the encryption key at least, so that hackers can´t get inside a computer on that point. However, that wouldn´t be enough, the encryption key needs to be much longer and the encryption algorithm still more complex. At least the key length has to be doubled to ensure the connection being safe. But if the humanity wants to exclude such a horrifying scenario, there must be research on cryptography as well.
Talking about the possible risks of quantum computers, it´s easy to see one side of them. However, there are very many areas in research, industries and all day’s life, which quantum computers can sweeten. For example, quantum computers can be used to improve artificial intelligence (AI), which itself can be used in many other areas like i.e. medicine like recognition of cancer cells, digital assistants or even computer enemies in video games. Furthermore, quantum computer can do many things in one step, so that every long-time algorithm is easier to solve as it is for a normal computer, like that these quantum computers could compute realistic physical simulations of special situations, in most of the cases the universe, biological or chemical simulations, as well as compute more digits of pi, which wouldn´t bring as much progress, as the before mentioned could bring. Even though the computing power is much higher than the one of the normal computers, one has to keep in mind, that quantum computers double their computing power, every time, a quantum bit is added. That means for appliance-areas, that not only a quantum computer itself could be upgraded with just some Q-Bits to higher its computing capacity, but one day two quantum computers might get connected, as their computing power raises exponentially and offers a way to solve still more complex problems. This technology doesn´t seem to have borders, after which problems can´t be solved.
Also, in all day’s life there could be tiny differences. On the one hand our voice assistants will learn much quicker and evolve, so that they will get more popular. On the other hand, navigation will get revolutionized: Today one big problem in navigation is, that it needs about years to proof that a way from one point to another is the shortest. Navigation systems can approximate the fastest way from A to B, but they can´t think about every single way. Quantum computer can, they need just seconds for such problems, since they can use their quantum states, in which they don´t need to decide between two ways. They can go every way to the target at once.
The Quantum computer is a very interesting topic, because they are such a big progress and it won´t need much time, until the first personal quantum computers come up. Quantum computers are a very strange thing, because nobody knows their borders and nobody can think like they do. Even if there are many positive effects and quantum computer can help the society; nobody knows, if they will save the world, destroy the world or both, as quantum computer could even be used by hackers to analyze infrastructure or data to improve their attacks. The only way to prevent an attack is still being attentively.