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The Race for Quantum Computing and Cryptography Is Accelerating

Quantum computing and cryptography are hot topics in the world of emerging technology. But how feasible are they on a large scale?

Credit: Shutterstock/Yurchanka Siarhei

Credit: Shutterstock/Yurchanka Siarhei

Quantum computing and cryptography are hot topics in the world of emerging technology. But how feasible are they on a large scale?

“Right now those things are energy intensive and expensive and time consuming,” said Bill Halal, founder of TechCast, during the virtual AFCEA/GMU C4I Center Symposium.

Peter Fonash, chief technology officer, Option3Ventures, agreed. “I think you have to go look at things in terms of where they are in the lifecycle. If you look at quantum computing, it’s still in its early stages. The machines that they’ve developed are very small and they also require special conditions like special cooling,” he said. “The temperature demands of the quantum computers are even more demanding than those old Cray supercomputers.”

Quantum is very expensive and is still in its research and development stage, said Fonash. “In fact when you look at how much money is being spent on quantum encryption, in 2019 it was $8 million for the whole year,” he said. So far in 2021 it’s $30 million. It’s an enormous growth but still not in the hundreds of millions, added Fonash.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is also still developing a standard for quantum encryption. They are scheduled to come up with a standard this year. Fonash estimates quantum is about five years away from wide deployment but, “I think we are in an arms race with China. And that’s going to accelerate because of its military implications and from a hacking point of view and also for general communications where you can secure all communications through encryption.”

Fonash sees a real use for quantum encryption by the big cloud providers, like Google and Microsoft where you have something like OneDrive. “You could store it on your computer but the cloud would actually encrypt it for you,” he explained.

“That could ensure the security of an individual signing into his accounts on the cloud,” said Halal, relating it to blockchain.

Fonash certainly sees the potential for blockchain but sees a big challenge in its efficiency. “When you try to scale up a community, it gets very large and it gets very process intense. That’s where the work effort is going to be, to make [blockchain] more efficient so that it can scale,” said Fonash.

Halal posed the idea that artificial intelligence (AI) could help with efficiency.

“Maybe,” said Fonash. “AI has great potential but sometimes human beings can take the time and scratch their heads and say, ‘You know I think this is right but it doesn’t make sense to me.’ There’s a sixth sense of a human being, which an AI system may never have. The human being may want to go look at one more thing where as the AI just takes action,” explained Fonash.