Quantum computing is a powerful technology that has the potential to change the world and advance industry immeasurably. Quantum computers are set to surpass supercomputers but they will not replace ordinary computers which are better suited to most everyday problems.
Unlike binary bits used by conventional computers, quantum computers use qubits, which have quantum properties that can provide much greater processing power than the equivalent in bits.
The qubit quality known as superposition enables them to simultaneously represent different combinations of 0 and 1, which enables them to process numbers of various outcomes simultaneously. Entanglement is the process through which pairs of qubits exist in the same quantum state. This allows for exponential growth in the processing ability of a quantum machine.
However, quantum computers are more subject to errors than ordinary computers, due to the process of decoherence. This is the deterioration of qubits caused by interaction with their environments. The quantum state is particularly delicate and can be upset by vibrations or changes in temperature. For this reason, they need to be kept in super refrigeration and vacuum chambers. The interference can be slightly lessened by using smart algorithms, but it remains a hazard to quantum computing.
There is a recognized point at which quantum computers can perform mathematical calculations beyond powerful supercomputers; this is known as quantum supremacy. Though due to the continual changes in computing technology, it is not yet clear how many qubits are required to reach quantum supremacy.
Various computing companies, such as IBM, D-Wave and Rigetti, are beginning research in the technology, while corporations like Alibaba, Volkswagen, and Airbus have shown interest in its applications. Quantum computing may be used for improving the performance of electrical batteries, calculating the ascent and descent paths of aircraft, or the best possible routes in traffic for buses and taxis.
Google has recently claimed to have attained quantum supremacy by means of a quantum computer named Sycamore. This has raised concerns in the blockchain community that a computer of this power may have the ability to break cryptocurrency encryption.
Chris Harrison is Head of Blockchain at Electroneum and he previously worked on CryptoNote, a software development protocol that provides privacy features to advanced cryptography.
I think if it became ubiquitous in the near future, a lot of projects would be in trouble.
Chris Harrison – Head of Blockchain at Electroneum
He is concerned that many in the blockchain industry fail to recognize the potential threat but suggests that some teams are already building quantum resistance into CryptoNote. This is something he hopes will be possible for Electroneum.
The great promise of blockchain which has yet to be fully realized–is largely predicated on the complete security that it can offer. If powerful quantum computing can break through this barrier then the world of blockchain will need to be ready for it in advance.