Quantum Processor Example of quantum process.
Yes, without a doubt, and I’m going to tell you how. But will they once they’re invented? I say no, because you can’t control the world by destroying it. Remember the word control as you read this.
You might be familiar with all this, but in case you aren’t, a quantum computer is just a computer that uses quantum science, a branch of physics, specifically quantum physical properties at a minute level, such as superposition, to compute data. It has technically not been invented yet, though many groups are trying, like D-Wave, MIT, IMB, Microsoft, and Google; but I believe a breakthrough is coming within the next few years. Why is this important? Because these quantum properties have the potential to process data at an infinitely faster rate than the most robust conventional computer, which is badly needed in the world today.
Why is it badly needed? Because conventional computers cannot manage the massive amounts of data out there, which are growing at rates no one can even comprehend. Classical, or conventional computers, cannot keep up, so something much meatier must be implemented.
A small example: Not long ago, I read that all the data behind Facebook equals about 100 PB, that’s petabytes. One petabyte is equal to 1,000 terabytes; one terabyte is equal to 1,000 gigabytes, and so on. So 100 petabytes is 100,000,000 gigabytes. Current personal computers have 1 to 2 terabyte hard drives. Now think of how many 1 to 2 terabyte hard drives it would take to contain only the data that Facebook has on all its 1+ billion users. And that’s just Facebook, one social media website.
D-Wave’s quantum computer shells. (source: D-Wave)
Where is all this data? It goes far, far, far beyond social media today. There’s cell phone data, banking and financial data, security access through biometrics, CCTV footage, utilities like power and water, smart meters in homes and buildings, television viewing, at-home movie viewing, eBooks, public transportation, your car, personal communication (phone, email, text), microchips in animals (eventually people), online education, voting data, on and offline merchandise sales, medical records, warfare, and if it doesn’t fall into all that, anything else you do online. But what’s online is all around us now, not just on a computer screen, and collectively has been given a name, the Internet of Things. And what’s running behind it? Big Data.
Big Data needs big computing power, and as the Internet of Things stretches into every aspect of our lives, something extremely powerful will be needed to manage it all. It’s like 56k fax modem internet from the late 1990s. Websites became so sophisticated fax modem technology had to be replaced with something faster.
The D-Wave quantum computer core. (source: D-Wave)
Now I will answer the title question of this article, because hopefully you’re starting to see the big picture the way I see it. By the time quantum computers are running Big Data, what will not be included in the Internet of Things? And with that, anything will be susceptible to cyber-attack. In recent days, there were numerous attacks on the U.S. government’s data, including the personnel office, and the U.S. Army. With quantum computing power in the hands of the wrong people, don’t think for one second that nuclear power, the energy grid, armed services weaponry, and controlling or stopping communication aren’t vulnerable. Those things are at risk right now, but with more computing power, I shun to think of the possibilities. I’m not the only one who says this, read this cybersecurity article (pdf) from the May 25, 2015 edition of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Am I conspiracy theorist? A fear monger? I don’t think so. I’m merely an observer. But as stated at the beginning, I don’t believe the world will get to be the way I suggest in the previous paragraph. It’s like the Cold War, did the superpowers ever actually engage in nuclear war against each other? Again, you can’t control the world by destroying it. World War II ended in the Pacific with the U.S. dropping nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two small places compared to the whole of Japan. But it was enough to bring Japan into submission. In other words, how could Japan be brought under control if the U.S. would have destroyed it completely? There’s that word, control.
Who’s a major party the development of the quantum computer? Can’t you guess? Oh, come on, I actually have to tell you? Boring. It’s the NSA. (read that link) But don’t they have our best interest at heart in all they do? I mean, they wouldn’t use much faster computers for more monitoring would they? I’m not stating that the NSA is evil, per se, but in “combating terror” or “keeping America free” something else has happened, the buildup of a surveillance society, what I’ve loosely named the Era of Surveillance. And don’t think for one second that it’s an American phenomenon, you in Europe know about the SIS II, the Schengen Information System Second Generation, don’t you? You should, you’re in it. And I contest that world powers will eventually try to install an SIS II-type system for the whole world, the EU is the test.
But actually, and I’m probably going to be mocked for stating this, I want the NSA to have quantum systems. I just don’t want them to have quantum systems to make it easier to monitor me, and to grow the surveillance state against U.S. citizens who have done nothing wrong, which violates my rights under the U.S. Constitution. I think a lot of people think the NSA is a spy agency because of the Snowden revelations.
More views of the D-Wave quantum computer core. (source: D-Wave)
I want all U.S. government security departments to have quantum systems, because I don’t want America’s enemies to get this technology and then use it against us. All defense, spy, and law enforcement entities have cyber divisions today, the NSA, the armed services, the CIA, the FBI, and that’s just in America, Canada, the UK, the EU, Japan, Israel, China, Russia, and so on. They have to, no way around it. In fact, there’s just as much of a cyber-military complex in the world today as a traditional, physical one. And like the nuclear arms race, there’s now a cyber “arms race,” but it’s not acquiring bombs, it’s for stronger computers that can perpetuate and subvert attacks.
Enter the quantum processor. Now don’t get me wrong, all of this is the bad side of the technology. There is a clear good side. Medical advancement, such as cures for cancer or HIV, comes to mind; a quantum computer will be able to aid researchers for cures and other medical advancements in ways conventional computers could never do. The concept of driverless cars isn’t necessarily a bad one. If the technology advances enough it could reduce death and injury on the road. The faster the computer running behind the driverless car can make calculations the better. But then again, everywhere you’d go in your driverless car would be tracked. Yikes! Seismology and meteorology will benefit greatly from quantum data since systems and research will be able to predict calamity more accurately. Global trade could be made more efficient, which along with medical advancement, could help poor countries. I’m sure there are countless other ways quantum technology could benefit mankind. Alas, if there were only good sides and no bad sides.
Here’s a closing question to ponder. Can any of this be stopped? Specifically, can the bad side of quantum technology be avoided? I believe no one has a choice, and no one really knows what the outcome will be because we’re on a trajectory that cannot be undone, only possibly slowed down. Can you buy film for your camera? Can you buy newly released music on cassette (even CDs now)? Can you buy a car without any computer system at all? Are we using plastic to pay for everything more or less? So the effects of quantum technology will be like anything else today, only on crack.