[QUANTUM VALUE] NEW YEAR

This year will be both happy and unhappy - at the same time, in the same place

Alphabet’s announcement last week that its quantum computer breakthrough is both real and commercially practical is going to make a lot of people happy, and just as many unhappy, even the same people, at the same time.

That’s the inescapable duality of quantum phenomena; they are capable of being multiple things at once, like looking at a single thing from different perspectives. Which means you’re never sure if you understand it; it all depends on your point of view.

Quantum computers are not that new. Geeks have been working for decades to harness the power of the qubit – a binary digit that can hold multiple values at the same time, giving a quantum computer the potential to perform at thousands or millions of times the speed of conventional machines.

Now Alphabet has confirmed that their experimental device is working on more than device-specific problems. That means that secure encryption can be ‘broken’ in seconds. Bitcoin can be mined to its final coin in minutes. Artificial intelligence just got a million times better at machine learning!

All of which makes us very happy – or desperately despairing, depending on how we look at it. Almost infinite computing power, what a win! But nothing can be protected based on the difficulty of cracking the codes, so we’re all exposed, at the mercy of those who wield this quantum power.

Perhaps we need to invent quantum trust; if that’s at all im/possible…

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

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