Is Quantum computing dangerous, ushering in an era of Artificial Intelligence so powerful we will be controlled by machines? Are the Terminators coming? Ruled by a future Skynet gone wild with humans living as slaves, subservient to computers infinitely more intelligent than we are?
Do a quick Google search for ‘define quantum computing’ and you’ll find an innocuous explanation that describes Quantum computing as… ‘a computer that makes use of the quantum states of subatomic particles to store information.’
Sounds pretty harmless right? A paper tiger with no real power?
The real challenge since the dawn of the computer age in 1943 when ENIAC was invented J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly at the University of Pennsylvania the race has been on for ever smaller and more powerful computers. Will we ever have the amount of computing power we need or want? If, as Intel co-founder Gordon Moore states in his now famous Moore’s Law, that the number of transistors on a microprocessor continues to double every 18 months, the year 2020 or 2030 will find the circuits on a microprocessor already measured on an atomic scale.
This of course will lead to the seemingly unavoidable next step and the development of quantum computing, and exploiting the power of atoms and molecules to perform memory and processing tasks. Quantum computers have the potential to perform significantly faster than any silicon-based computer.
Google’s Hartmut Neven, Head of the Quantum AI Lab who operate a Canadian D-Waves x-2, which uses a 1,000 qu-bits quantum processor, Google claims it is 100 million times faster than a conventional one core PC that we may have on our desk at home.
This is light years ahead of computing theory 70 years ago at the dawn of the computing age when US computer engineer Howard Aiken said that just six electronic digital computers would be good enough for the computing needs of the whole of the United States.
So in reality this all sounds cool for crunching all of the masses of data the worlds computers deal with every nano second but just how safe is a computer with the ability to crack every encryption known to man AND out think us? All of our data is under threat because Quantum computers pose a monumental danger to the security of our data.
This is not a movie script with Tom Cruise hacking into Chinese or Russian Military systems, OR vice versa, it’s a very real threat.
The challenge is that no one knows how protect our data and keep it safe from the power of Quantum Computers and the algorithms they will be able to employ. The NSA is worried about the lack of encryption that is safe against an attack driven by a quantum computer.
The NSA is currently advising businesses to use algorithms “believed to be safe from attack by a large quantum computer.” It certainly doesn’t look like the NSA has any real confidence that ‘believed to be safe’ has any credence or foundation in the real world.
So what is the difference between an ‘ordinary’ everyday computer with Byts, RAM, Hard Drives or SSD Storage Drives, Inputs and Outputs and all of the other analog parts that make it tick, and a quantum computer?
Instead of bits, quantum computers have qubits. Simply put, a bit can be stored as either a zero or a 1, a qubit however can be stored in an almost infinite number of ways simultaneously. It can be a zero or a one, a zero and one, or store multiple values all at the same time!
Times have truly changed since 1956 when John McCarthy dreamed up the phrase “Artificial Intelligence” in. Today’s AI really does seem like something out of a science fiction movie with self-driving cars, Amazon’s Alexa, Siri and of course Microsoft’s Cortana and iMessenger and Facebook Messenger Bots seemingly ready to serve up your every whim based on the conversation thread your having
A recent article on the BBC News site asks ‘How safe can artificial intelligence be?’
If Hollywood movies are your only guide to Artificial Intelligence, we face a terrifying future in which machines become so clever that they dominate or even destroy us.
And influential figures have added fuel to the fire: Stephen Hawking says AI could spell the end of the human race while the genius entrepreneur Elon Musk says it is “like summoning the demon”.
So, it’s up to us to decide. Or is it? Has the headlong rush to dominate Quantum Computing and all the power that will unleash already progressed to far? Will we face a Skynet that will bring an end to humanity or a benign super power that will benefit all of human kind, cure our ills and take us to the stars? As Cade Matz of Wired magazine reports, the race is on.
Within the next five years, Google will produce a viable quantum computer. That’s the stake the company has just planted. In the pages of Nature late last week, researchers from Google’s Quantum AI Laboratory told the world that a machine leveraging the seemingly magical principles of quantum mechanics will soon outperform traditional computers on certain tasks. They said this long-anticipated technology will, among other things, improve the artificial intelligence that’s already remaking the tech world. “The field of quantum computing will soon achieve a historic milestone,” the team wrote. They call this milestone “quantum supremacy.” The Race to Sell True Quantum Computers Begins Before They Really Exist