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2022-05-05 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Technology , 388 references Ignore this thread
A Quantum Of Scam
[Comments enabled]

Oh.... meh.

"Current research shows that at some point in the not too distant future, when quantum information science matures and quantum computers are able to reach a sufficient size and level of sophistication, they'll be capable breaking much of the cryptography that currently secures our digital communications," a senior administration official said.

No it doesn't.

Let me explain.

Yes, it is absolutely true that if and when quantum computing expands sufficiently it will be able to trivially break existing cryptography, defined as "can break it within the time that doing so is useful."

Today that's not true; all cryptography can be broken, but the time required with modern ciphers is long enough that even with wild increases in capacity and/or parallel construction of the attempt you wind up with the information being useless (and you being worm food) long before you succeed.  Quantum computing "threatens" to upset that timeline, basically.

Key word here: threatens.

It is simply not in evidence that it will actually happen, however, and the reason is this: As Google and others have discovered, there's an error rate in qbit operation and there is no known way to correct for it.  In other words just as cosmic rays cause random errors in DRAM memory, and thus server often use ECC chip sets in order to either correct or detect the corruption, and thus prevent it from being incorporated, quantum computing also takes such errors and there is no known way to interdict it.

Worse, the error rate appears to expand with density so an actual practical quantum computer produces gibberish.

Yes, the "demonstration" units do work.  Sort of.  But the error rate, because of the above, means that it not a matter of simply adding more density and working on that problem until you reach something that can do useful work as opposed to being someone's very expensive science project.  Nope.

And while Google thinks they have figured out how to suppress the error rate that's a "belief" and not a proved fact, mostly because the density required to prove it works "at scale" doesn't exist.

Yes, people will continue to work on this because its cool and, if the problems can actually be solved then a number of other scientific investigations become quite-reasonable to undertake where today they're not.

But don't get your dander up that modern cryptography is about to get flushed down the toilet.

Maybe, some day, it will.

But not tomorrow.

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Whitehat
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Sounds like the same wishful thinking that gives us, "When battery technology improves..."

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Radiosity
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With the people responsible for advancing technology largely made irrelevant as a result of reduced cognitive function (jabs) or early death (again, jabs), plus the coming famines and war, plus the destruction of the very system that allows such things to advance in the first place (Capitalism, motivated self-interest, etc)... yeah, quantum computing will remain a pipe dream.

We'll be lucky if we even have a working electrical grid in a year's time, never mind anything like computers.
Poer
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Damn KD, I know you know you are smarter than 99.9 percent of the population but under water welding is giving me a headache.
Pretty sure if MIT was lucky enough to have you as a professor; very few would get an A if you graded on a curve.

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"The degree to which a man substitutes the judgment of others for his own, failing to look at reality directly, is the degree to which his mental processes are alienated from reality." Nathaniel Branden in Ayn Rands 'Capitalism The Unknown Ideal'
Gianmarko
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i know its most likely bravo sierra if the words "senior" and "official" are somewhere in the statement. thats the same senior officials who spend billions of our money in bravo sierra "research" like electric airliners.

i have been working with cryptography, on and off, since 1998. most of the stuff done back then can be easily broken with modern processing power, but i suspect 1998 encrypted data is sort of stale by now.

i remember working on a project where CAVE algorithm was used. it was stored in locked folders that only few people could access as it was supposed to be classified technology. unfortunately that algo could be also found on altavista :D





Nathanaldensr
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I view all of these grand claims as nothing more than science fiction. Quantum computing, fusion, "AI," etc. Just grifters grifting.
Tickerguy
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Well, fusion isn't science fiction. How it works and what it produces is science fact.

The problem with it, as with this, is the losses.

If you have unlimited energy I can create a warp drive. I'm absolutely certain it will work; I and a friend ran the physics on it when I was just out of high school. That was 40 years ago, and I'm still certain it will work. It does not violate the laws of physics -- it exploits them.

The problem is the energy required, both producing it and then managing to focus it in the form and fashion you require. Good luck with all that; there is nothing within the reasonable engineering capacity of man to do either.

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Voyager
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I recall quantum computing being explained like, picture having a room where every possible state can exist at once. Now send someone in there with a simple set of instructions, say open a phone book to random page and put your finger on a random name, and if that name is Bob Tod, write down where it is and end the quantum state.

Presumably, you'll get the location of Bob Tob's name in the phonebook, or the guy who misread the name, the guy who forgot his pencil, the guy who tripped over the cord and turned off the quantum state, the etc etc etc.

Every right answer exists, but so does every possible way of screwing it up too.

I think it was on Isaac Arthu's Science and Futurism.
Tappedout
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I recently finished an entertaining production called "the Imitation Game" starring Benedict Cumberbatch, who I thoroughly enjoyed in his BBC series Sherlock.

It was based on the biography of Alan Turing, set mostly in the UK during WW2 as he worked to beat the Enigma machine.

Highly recommended.
Abelardlindsey
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AI and quantum computing are the two hypes of the current time. Thankfully, the hype over AI, which is really deep layered neuro-nets, has faded in the last 3-4 years.

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Robackrman
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And, if there were a breakthrough in error correction, there is simultaneous R&D in post-quantum public-key cryptography:
https://csrc.nist.gov/projects/post-quan....
Bagbalm
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My understanding is that nothing about quantum computing invalidates the uncertainty principle. The more detailed the answer you are seeking the less likely it is exactly correct. Quantum computing will quickly create approximations.
Vernonb
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I was "lucky" enough to see one of my these in operation a few weeks ago. Are you kidding me. I felt like I had stepped back in time with the Cray-1. And then the literal rat's nest of wires this thing needed to function.

Something about yes, know, maybe seems a bit out of place. ( Pun intended).

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Prof_dilligaf
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Ah yes, quantum computing and fusion power, two world-shattering technologies that have been just 10 years away for decades now.

I don't know much about quantum computing, but the fusion power problem is easily demonstrated by two simple observations: fission can occur spontaneously if rarely in nature here on Earth; the only places fusion happens naturally is in the heart of massive super-hot balls of gas held together by matter-crushing amounts of gravitational force.

Humans have proven to be fairly clever monkeys in many ways, but only a fool would believe they'll be able to shrink a sun down to a size fit for human use.
Ib0
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Let's speculate that quantum computing becomes feasible the future.

What happens to crypto currencies?
Tickerguy
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@Ib0 - They're all instantly boned and zeros as they can be trivially counterfeited.

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Tonythetiger
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Who needs quantum computing? My computer runs twice as fast since I installed a water-vapor fuel injector and it only costs me pennies.

I'd patent the idea and sell it if not for the hush money I'm getting from the quantum computing researchers. (/sarc - all of it)




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Edward.fish
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Honestly, I view "quantum" like I do police-dramas: PR for the misconception that the police have incredible minds and tools, to the point where they can pull of the miraculous... and thereby hide the fact that law enforcement ever more routinely violates people's privacy by (e.g.) illegal wiretap.

All "quantum" does is provide cover for government having "backdoored" access to your information, perhaps baked into the hardware (like Intel's IME), and allowing them the excuse of "we used a quantum computer to break the encryption."

"So, you claim to be able to near-instantly decrypt any arbitrary 256-bit encryption? May I see it?"
"No."
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