Friday, January 03, 2014
NSA previews quantum computing in its cryptography research; facial, body recognition next; a moral paradox?
So, here we are with all the rumors that the National Security Agency has built a quantum computer, which could break any encryption key.
It is a rumor, and, yes, the NSA seems to be working on it. How much could it mean to ordinary Americans?
Timothy B. Lee has an article in the Washington Post Switch Blog where he interviews MIT physicist Scott Aaronson, where he discusses the concept. One idea is that some cryptography, like lattice-based, is very difficult to break with anything. Another is that quantum computing might be useful to private business in defining better encryption.
Could hackers use it to bust any home user? Not now. For one thing, a quantum computer would be much more sensitive to the environment than ordinary laptops, tablets and phones. Ever worry when driving with your gear in your car about getting close to high tension power lines or power stations? Maybe you would with this kind of computer.
Christopher Barnatt explains quantum computing here: Note the discussion of the D-wave.
The transcript of the MIT interview is here.
One idea of quantum mechanics, and more properly relativity, seems morally relevant. That is, observes can affect what they watch and gawk at. That feeds into the idea that other people’s relationships can affect you. Or, more properly, other people’s isolation can affect you, if it gives them the “freedom” to monitor and judge you.
Sorry, Tim Lee, “qubits” are not the same as “binary bits”.