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# Quantum Computing Will Put Your Data at Risk

Too many secrets.” – Martin Bishop One of the pivotal moments in the movie Sneakers is when Martin Bishop realizes that they have a device that can break any encryption methodology in the world. Now 26 years old, the movie was ahead of its time. You might even say the movie predicted quantum computing. Well, at the very least, the movie predicts what is about to unfold as a result of quantum computing. Let me explain, starting with some background info on quantum computing.

# Quantum computing basics

To understand quantum computing, we must first look at how traditional computers operate. No matter how powerful, standard computing operates on binary units called “bits.” A bit is either a 1 or a 0, on or off, true or false. We’ve been building computers based on that architecture for the past 80 or so years. Computers today are using the same bits that Turing invented to crack German codes in World War II. That architecture has gotten us pretty far. (In fact, to the moon and back.) But it does have limits. Enter quantum computing, where a bit can be a 0, a 1, or a 0 and a 1 at the same time. Quantum computing works with logic gates, like classic computers do. But quantum computers use quantum bits, or qubits. With one qubit, we would have a matrix of four elements: {0,0}, {0,1}, {1,0}, or {1,1}. But with two qubits, we get a matrix with 16 elements, and at three qubits we have 64. For more details on qubits and gates, check out this post: Demystifying Quantum Gates—One Qubit At A Time. This is how quantum computers outperform today’s high-speed supercomputers. This is what makes solutions to complex problems possible. Problems today’s computers can’t solve. Things like predicting weather patterns years in advance. Or comprehending the intricacies of the human genome. Quantum computing brings these insights, out of reach today, into our grasp. It sounds wonderful! What could go wrong? Hold that thought.

# Quantum Supremacy

Microsoft, Google, and IBM all have working quantum computers available. There is some discussion about capacity and accuracy, but they exist. And they are getting bigger. At some point in time, quantum computers will outperform classical computers at the same task. This is called “Quantum Supremacy.” The following chart shows the linear progression in quantum computing for the past 20 years.

(SOURCE: Quantum Supremacy is Near, May 2018)

There is some debate about the number qubits necessary to achieve Quantum Supremacy. But many researchers believe it will happen within the next eight years. So, in a short period of time, quantum computers will start to unlock answers to many questions. Advances in medicine, science, and mathematics will be within our grasp. Many secrets of the Universe are on the verge of discovery. And we are not ready for everything to be unlocked.