Cryptocurrencies and Quantum Computing: What will happen to the crypto world after the quantum leap?
Cryptocurrencies and Quantum Computing. This is an issue that both developers and crypto users should observe carefully in the coming years.
Recently, Google announced a milestone in
the history of computing. The American company finally achieved quantum supremacy. What does that mean?
In a nutshell: extremely powerful
computers, with unimaginable data processing capabilities.
How does this relate to the crypto world?
Basically, machines with such computing power could easily break the encryption
that guarantees the security of our cryptocurrencies.
However, let’s take it easy! There is still time before these computers become popular. In this article, the Cripto InterCambio blog will further explain the relationship between cryptocurrencies and quantum computing.
What is quantum computing?
As its name implies, quantum computing applies the concepts of quantum physics to computer development.
Quantum mechanics emerged in the early
twentieth century and was promoted by some of the greatest names in physics of
the last century, such as Max Planck, Nikolas Tesla, Albert Einstein, and
Unlike Classical Physics, which deals with
large bodies and everyday events, Quantum Physics specializes in very small
bodies. It studies the strange laws that govern the actions of neutrons,
protons, electrons, and so on.
It is an extremely complex field, closely
linked to the developments of theoretical mathematics and technology. In this
sense, explaining it in everyday language is an arduous task. However, there is
an extremely important concept for quantum computing that is worth examining
Based on our daily experience, one body can
only be in one state at a time.
This is to say: if I’m here, I can’t be
there at the same time. If I’m alive, I can’t be dead.
However, when studying very small
particles, such as the electron, quantum physicists noted that they behave in a
rather different way.
An electron is both a particle and a wave.
I could be here, there and over there at
the same time.
This is the idea of superposition. The states of electron superposition.
The idea of quantum superposition is well illustrated by the famous Schrödinger cat, which is both alive and dead… at the same time!
How does that apply to computer science?
As we know, computers are built on the base
of bits, which are the smallest units of measurement in computing. A bit can
only assume two values: 1 or 0.
It is from this simple principle that all
computers work. Images, software, music… all of them are gigantic codes with
zeros and ones. A simple metaphor can help us explain this: bits are the bricks
with which all information on computers is built.
That’s where the idea of superposition
gains importance. Quantum computers no longer use bits. Its basic unit is even
smaller: the qubits or quantum bits. As they are governed by
the laws of Quantum Physics, instead of 0 or 1, the quantum computer is capable
of processing multiple states between 1 and 0.
In practice, this means a processing power many times greater than the one we currently
have access to.
In October 2019, Google researchers
published a scientific article in which they claim to have achieved so-called quantum supremacy with a computer called
Sycamore was able to perform, in just 3 minutes and 20 seconds, a calculation that would have taken about 10 thousand years to be completed by the world’s most powerful computer.
Cryptocurrencies and Quantum
Undoubtedly, the emergence of quantum computing is going to be a challenge in the future of cryptocurrencies.
After all, one of the main axes of the
crypto world is precisely cryptography. This is the ability of digital
currencies to circulate from one point to another in an encrypted manner,
without a third party being able to read (and therefore modify) that information.
The cryptography that assures the security
of transactions with cryptocurrencies could be compromised due to the massive
data processing capacity of quantum computers.
In addition, the mining process of Bitcoins
and altcoins would be extremely simple with quantum computers. A company with
quantum machines might be able to easily accumulate all remaining Bitcoins.
Should we worry then?
Maybe in the medium term.
Quantum computing is still
taking its first steps
It is essential to understand that Google’s
quantum supremacy is only the first step in a long process that will play out
in the coming years. It will involve the world’s leading technology companies,
such as IBM, Microsoft, etc.
As for now, Sycamore is still in its
initial tests. Its processor generates huge amounts of heat and, therefore,
must operate at temperatures close to 0ºK (-273ºC). Rival companies are also
trying to go in that direction.
In this sense, it will still take a couple
of years for achievements in quantum computing to have an impact on the crypto
market, as well as in our daily lives.
The crypto world must adapt
In an article for Cointelegraph, analyst Johann Polecsak stated that the quantum leap in computing will become a real problem for the cryptocurrency market in the next 5 or 10 years.
Polecsak believes that it is impossible to
deny that current cryptography is fragile in the face of the great capacity of
this new generation of machines. In this regard, the analyst suggested that
developers start preparing for the near future.
If quantum computers are capable of deciphering codes, they will also be able to generate even more powerful encryption. This is precisely the function ofquantum cryptography, an area that uses the principles of quantum physics to ensure the security of codes.
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