Quantum Computing

One of the challenges with the current state of cryptology is that quantum computing breaks most of the current forms of crypto, a point made in this twitter exchange a few days ago:

So what is the state of quantum computing?

Well according to this piece in Nature, moving along quite nicely.

According to Leo Kouwenhoven of the University of Delft in the Netherlands, “2017 is the year of braiding”, meaning that “excitations of matter … encode infor­mation by tangling around each other like braids. Information stored in these qubits would be much more resistant to outside disturbance than are other technologies and would, in particular, make error correction easier.”

That’s a lot to grok and I am not entirely sure that I grok it. But as Nature points out, big tech companies like Google and Microsoft are investing heavily in quantum computing and there is a non-trivial chance that we will get to viable quantum computing in the next decade.

As I said in my tweet reply, that would be pretty disruptive.

#quantum computing

Comments (Archived):

  1. JimHirshfield

    “OK Google…what are qubits?”

    1. Mac

      A bunch of grok.

      1. JimHirshfield

        That’s what Alexa said.

        1. Mac

          I told Siri what Alexa said. Fred’s new guidelines prohibit her response.

    2. fredwilson

      Quantum bits

      1. edzschau

        Fred, lots going on in this arena. Did you see Frank Chen’s podcast on QC? http://a16z.com/2016/06/26/…. Check out what they’re doing at Yale, too!

        1. fredwilson

          Thanks Ed. I will take a look

    3. Twain Twain

      Google: “The matrix of your info we’ve made.”https://uploads.disquscdn.c…

  2. pointsnfigures

    Have had people tell me that recent computer speed advances in the past 5-7 yrs have allowed them to work with bigger datasets yielding more precise results. If I was trying to put this in layman’s terms, it seems like you can work with even larger datasets, do it faster, and have less statistical variability in outcomes. That’s pretty cool.

  3. Jon Schnepf

    great company to follow is Lightwave Logic. They recently tested a spatial light modulator that greatly exceeded the current industry rates…and its cheaper, and scalable for cheaper. Wish I knew more about the science, but this post reminded me of what they do. Check out the bio’s of who joined the company in last 2 years.

  4. Samuel Oliver

    Sorry for being slow on the uptake, but when you say “quantum computing breaks most of the current forms of crypto”, what do you mean? (specifically the ‘breaks’)

    1. fredwilson

      A hacker could decrypt something easily with a quantum computer if the crypto is the form that is commonly used right now. The good news is that there is quantum proof crytpo but it is not yet widely deployed

      1. Samuel Oliver

        Right – disruptive for the future and I’d guess a lot of retrospective disruption too (i.e., any historical, secure internet comms could be at risk of decryption)

      2. Luka Perčič

        The factorization of 21 was achieved with 10 entangled qubits, and it still holds the record trough this day. You need 4096 entangled qubits to break rsa 2048 and twice the size for rsa 4096. There is a very good chance that a practical quantum computer is just not possible, or that it needs more measurements that it was able to provide speedup. I wouldn’t hold my breath for the quantum to break much for now.

  5. jason wright

    “grok” – quoi? sometimes i really am a stranger in a strange land.

    1. fredwilson

      Grok means Understand

      1. jason wright

        it’s a new one for me. i thought you were on grog.

        1. awaldstein

          Not a sci fi fan I see…From Stranger in a Strange Land–required reading at my house growing up.

          1. jason wright

            It’s new to me. Is it an allegory on America and immigration? I wonder if Trump has read it?I quite like sci fi. It’s an interesting ‘mirror’ in which we can look at ourselves and our world.I still want to see Arrival.

          2. awaldstein

            I come from a family of scientists. When Twilight Zone came on our house basically stopped and everyone including the dog crowded into my grandfathers bedroom where the only tv (b & w) was and watched.Arrival as terrific.No comment on Trump.

          3. LE

            Fascinating I did not know that:https://en.wikipedia.org/wi…So you had ‘required reading’ in your house, literally or?

          4. awaldstein

            Reading was required.Working hard was required.What you read and what you wanted to become was not pushed.What a terrific job my parents did.

          5. Chimpwithcans

            Hi Arnold, I’m on a bit of a sci-fi self education mission. Starting with Dune, am reading up on the best novels recommended to me. Any top choices you might wanna pass on are much appreciated.

          6. awaldstein

            I’ll ask my brothers

          7. mikenolan99

            Newer stuffEnders Game and Ready Player OneClassicsTo your scattered bodies go – Philip Jose FarmerInferno – Larry NivenDune (great choice)2001, ClarkIllustrated Man, Ray BradburyAnd, my all time favorite short story book…https://www.amazon.com/50-S

          8. Chimpwithcans

            That’s awesome thanks a lot!

      2. mikenolan99

        So glad to hear I’m not the only one who had to google it… and how surprised I was to learn that Heinleine invented it… love his books as a teen… have to revisit…

      3. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        Nope – Understand means understandGrok is (as I understand it) at best an educated and rather nuanced term generally implying intuition, feeling and empathy and “one-ness” rather than “to hold an intellectual grasp” of something.Generally the use of Grok is trivial or inevitably vague and so is used as intended when “defined” only by a disappointingly small subset of its users.I would argue something that is grokked is intuitive and therefore a gut feel that is known to be known (if not how) so in this instance the idea that ” I am not entirely sure that I grok it” implies by self-reference that you do not.Recommendation – if you mean understand write understand – thus avoiding a need to explain yourself ! – no offence (just being a smartass 🙂

    2. Vasudev Ram

      From Wikipedia:https://en.wikipedia.org/wi…The section “In computer programmer culture” in that page, is interesting.

  6. jason wright

    are various types of investor already acting on Trump’s capital repatriation signals and entering the crypto market?the top twenty blockchains are surging in value. green across the board.

    1. fredwilson


    2. Jon Schnepf

      recently started following blockchain. are you able to share a top 20 list? or a link to companies to follow? many thanks.

        1. Jon Schnepf

          whoa…lots of learning to do. Really appreciate the link, Max. All the best.

        2. jason wright

          This is the top twenty I was looking at today. Trading volume is a key indicator.I can’t see bitcoin sustaining its recent price trend. Beware the grizzly bitfall.

          1. Max Mersch

            I suppose some sort of fall is inevitable once the run is over, but the question is how much it will fall.Even so, what’s your reasoning for it being non-sustainable? Trading volume / Marketcap being low compared to Ethereum?

          2. jason wright

            the trading bots will melt :)based on what fundamental(s) is bitcoin’s price suddenly rising? that is the question in my mind that questions this bubble’s authenticity.here is just one possible scenario. during the holiday season mainstream media has a news content shortfall (news is very largely manufactured from primary source material created by people in industries that have shut down for two weeks – advertising, marketing, public relations, lobbying, et.c. ) which is the opportunity for a marginal brand to make a play for the underpopulated spotlight. the timing of the bitcoin price bubble is therefore highly suspicious. it feels planned in advance, which means artificial, which means it will almost certainly pop.how much will it fall? difficult to say because of the Trump factor and his policies for wealth repatriation and how that may or may not stimulate new investment in the crypto scene. without it i would foolishly speculate that it may drop down to $750 in the absence of further technical developments and releases.Remember though that i hadn’t fully grasped the nitty gritty of SegWit when it was discussed here quite recently. i go on a kind of gut feeling based on having observed bitcoin for 4+ years.

        3. creative group

          Max Mersch:There are very unrealistic valuations on that list. Really gives pause if there is dubious entities holding the entire currencies. If total valuations are correct we could actually own entire companies. Really?

  7. William Mougayar

    What’s good for the goose will be good for the gander, re: encryption. When quantum computing materializes, it will also strengthen encryption techniques, so it becomes a zero sum gain. It won’t necessarily provide advantages to hackers.But I would count on QC to becoming important in advancing other types of computationally intensive tasks related to scientic research, AI, Machine Learning, modeling, predictions, etc.

    1. Twain Twain

      Good for vision and speech recognition.Still would NOT get the machines to understand our language and values.

  8. ZekeV

    Quantum money — digital currency with no need for PoW or PoS due to “no cloning” property. I don’t understand any of this, but Scott Aaronson does a great job conveying the gist here:http://math.mit.edu/~kelner

    1. Twain Twain

      Thanks for this link. Very easy to understand.But … LOL when the author writes: “You can download your quantum money onto your qPhone (not yet trademarked.”Hmmn … in a quantum money world everything would happen on-the-chip which could even be embeddable into clothes.

  9. panterosa,

    Regulations around medical mean we have fax and Microsoft office 95,98 or ’00 at best, and hackers can get all of it, and do. It’s hair-rippingly idiotic.

    1. ShanaC

      i’m surprised people are not partisan and active about healthcare and data. Constantly.

    2. PhilipSugar

      I cannot agree with you more.My daughter, dropped one of my weight lifting bars on her nose (she was trying, knew she was not allowed to touch, and it didn’t work out) She was fine.But my wife could not take her to the doctor. Other than listening to her being questioned individually twice with me out of the room about if I hit her which was annoying but understandable. They wanted me to write down my SSN#.That is more than hair-rippingly idiotic. The receptionist said we treat these with ultimate security!!! I said no. She went to go see the manager and she came back and said these are totally secure!!! I reached my hand up from under the counter with over 200 forms I had taken from her desk. I said REALLY????

  10. iggyfanlo

    We feel velocity, but we do feel acceleration… really feels like technology took a quantum leap last year… (pun intended)

  11. LIAD

    “excitations of matter” etc. oh please. give me a break.when it’s real, speak clearly. when it’s vapour obfuscate.

    1. Girish Mehta

      Prof. Seth Lloyd – https://www.youtube.com/wat…In another lecture he said the information processing revolution started with the Big Bang ~ 13.5 billion years ago (nerd joke alert – I think he referred to The Big Bang as The Big Bit).Alternatively, was Justin clearer ?

    2. LE

      As a general rule I 100% agree with you. [1] However in this case, and in particular with the person who made the comment, it’s a bit different. This is normal language in that group. And it’s the reason I rarely buy a book written by an academic on subjects that I am interested in. (Not that I buy many books anymore or would take time to read about something like this).[1] And business, and in particular the computing business, has been doing this for years. Amazon made it one of the cornerstones of AWS with AWS making up a new way to describe old things.

  12. Muneeb Ali

    In 2012, Princeton celebrated the Turing Centennial (100th birthday of Alan Turing) by inviting all living Turing Award winners for an event. Quantum computing was a major topic of discussion and Andy Yao (a leading figure in China’s research in quantum computing) said that we’re much further along than most people think but we’re keeping a low profile because we don’t want to raise people’s expectations. He cited AI as an example where there have been many cycles of excitement followed by disappointment.Andy’s comment was 5 years ago and he was putting an estimate of 5-10 years back then.What’s surprising to me is that the US intelligence agencies and DARPA are fairly quiet about quantum computing and don’t seem to be in a hurry to beat out China and others. The NSA did issue a statement in 2016 that everyone should switch to post-quantum crypto now.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s super helpful Muneeb. thanks.

  13. Richard Carlow

    I understand the excitement surrounding QC. Quantum everything is not far behind.

  14. Steven Roussey

    Quantum proof crypto should get deployed quickly. This store and break later activity puts a lot of information in jeopardy.

  15. Twain Twain

    Quantum Computing and Blockchain are the end-games of the Philosophy of Binary started during the Enlightenment of C17th.So, of course, it’s better to design and code up a different paradigm.

  16. Paul Chou

    Lattice based encryption is currently believed to not be vulnerable to quantum computation — the algorithm is important. Shor’s can break stuff like RSA in polynomial time but quantum shouldn’t be viewed as something that conquers everything. There are always harder problems to invent to make it hard for even quantum techniques to break. Lattice is also the basis for a lot of important research on new techniques that will easily encompass and exceed current techniques.

  17. ZekeV

    The issue with quantum and crypto is that most of our current gen schemes rely on prime factorization, which is slow to crack with classical algorithms but much easier with quantum algorithms. Once we have practical quantum computing, prime factorization will no longer be secure.Fortunately it is possible to build quantum-hard encryption algorithms that can work on classical machinery. I am not nearly mathematically sophisticated enough to understand how these work, but it seems like real math people do not think this is much of a problem in theory. Just in practice, due to the way public key crypto has evolved commercially.Google has already announced that they are exploring the move to quantum-hard crypto, though it seems that initially this just means increasing the bits involved in prime factorization. So they don’t seem to think we even need a truly quantum-hard crypto scheme on the web for now, just one that is “hard enough” for quantum computers that are feasible to build in the near future.

    1. ShanaC

      The problem is commercial practice. I would say not just practice, but that the interim period of “classical” vs “quantum” will exacerbate all problems, because we live in a world with a range of “classical”.IE: What if a person uses an older home computer to access a bank. Will that computer be powerful enough to run quantum hard encryption algorithms as a classical computer, or will only big, new, data center type computers be able to do it?

      1. ZekeV

        Power is not an issue, b/c these are all asymmetrical “trap door” functions. We already have more than enough power in our phone to run quantum-hard crypto. Quantum computing is not a universal speed-up to all computing, just enables us to do certain kinds of math that we couldn’t do before. We can simply choose a different algorithm. The bigger problem is the same as for all standards, getting everyone to agree on and then to maintain the new standard.

  18. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:OFF TOPIC ALERT!For those who forgot or were not born to live in the 1970’s.The music of Stevie Wonder doesn’t do justice to what actually occurred.https://youtu.be/mSRyf5G2uI8

  19. Thomas Huynh

    Speaking of Nature, I wish they would come out with the new quantum humanity 2.0 already. We haven’t even learned to tolerate, much less love one another yet. I’ve always been an optimist perhaps even an idealist but the level of computing — or almost all technologies for that matter — does little much in elevating the human factor in our world.

  20. stateside

    I was doing some research on the subject and was looking for publicly traded pure play quantum security companies and only found one – Quantum Numbers Corp. https://www.quantumnumbersc… Is anyone aware of others they could share?