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Chapter 19. To Catch a (Quantum) Thief

Data Security in the Quantum Age

When you drill down on the “spooky” world of quantum computing, you are confronted with the absurd merry-go-round that is life—you don’t quite understand what’s going on, but it’s fun.

The concept itself upsets the calculator that is generally believed to underscore reality. However, there appears to be a deeper, more fundamental, and decidely weirder layer to existence. In the atomic or subatomic realm, particles have been observed behaving in a way that conflicts with the physical laws as they have been traditionally defined, thus Einstein’s famous description: “spooky action at a distance.”

From a computing standpoint, if a bit of data is either a “1” or a “0” in a classic computer, that same bit can be simultaneously a “1” and a “0” in the theoretical quantum computer. When very smart people build upon that revolutionary insight, they are naturally excited about the potential commercial applications of quantum computing.

The most obvious application is in massively expanding the data-crunching capabilities of the worldwide digital ecosystem. As the data processing boundaries for the Internet, cell phones, and payment systems continue to be pushed back, the demand for more processing power and speed only grows.

Quantum computing has been touted as a solution to this demand. It might be a tad hyperbolic when scientists claim it would take a classic computer the size of the universe to perform as many ...

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