Quantum Computing Could Change Everything — Are We Ready?

The past decade-plus has seen an explosion in technical capability, at times outpacing Moore’s law of technology advancement.  

It’s fair to say that the present landscape is unrecognizable when compared to the days of dial-up. 

From cryptocurrency, the metaverse, and web3 more broadly — to generative artificial intelligence’s (AI) ongoing disruptions and infrastructure advancements like 5G — the digital landscape has been rapidly reshaped by ongoing innovation.

This, as the next big technical phase shift is inching closer — and promising to transform the very underlying framework and technical architecture across which all the groundbreaking advancements to date have played out against. 

That upcoming shift will be the ability of businesses to derive actionable, and not just theoretical, value from quantum computing capabilities. 

Quantum computers are superpowered computers that use principles of quantum mechanics, quite literally phase shifts among subatomic particles, to perform incredibly sophisticated operations by taking advance of parallel processing capabilities. 

Long the realm of science fiction, these tremendously powerful machines will be here and commercially viable within the next decade, if not sooner. 

They will fundamentally transform the way the connected world operates. 

Already, back in 2019, Google’s prototype quantum computer was able to solve a problem in 200 seconds that would have taken a legacy digital computer 10,000 years.

Technology moves faster than regulations do. Given that policymakers continue to struggle to enact effective oversight of digital assets and generative AI, many observers are concerned that tomorrow’s around-the-corner quantum moment may result in far-reaching and even disastrous consequences across a range of use cases if lawmakers and businesses are caught unprepared.

See AlsoGenerative AI Gives Scammers More Tools and Greater Reach

What Quantum Computing’s Debut Could Hold

Already, contemporary advances in technology, like generative AI, are creating new attack vectors and tactics for criminals. 

“It took me 12 minutes of prompting, but I was able to coax an AI tool into developing a software code that could generate hundreds of thousands of fake credit card numbers in an instant, as well as have a bot write me a script that could validate whether a credit number was real or not. With this information, I could hypothetically break my way into a system,” Doriel Abrahams, head of risk in the U.S. at fraud prevention provider Forter, told PYMNTS this week (May 5). 

Abrahams added that what technology has done is serve to amplify the scale of existing threats and risks, saying, “Fraudsters, as a general rule of thumb, tend to be very sophisticated and are always finding new ways to defraud individuals and businesses.”

In 1994, long before wireless internet, much less iPhones or laptops were publicly available, the mathematician Peter Shor developed an algorithm, referred to as Shor’s algorithm, that, in theory, would be able to crack the encryption protocol currently used to secure most of today’s online transactions. 

Michael Jabbara, global head of fraud services at Visa, told PYMNTS in March that in this fast-approaching “post-encryption world, authentication becomes king … knowing that each person is who they say they are is going to be absolutely key.”

Underscoring the impact that being able to crack today’s strongest encryption protocols using quantum computing power will have, Jabbara explained, is the fact that bad actors are already starting to steal and hold onto encrypted data in preparation for the just-around-the-corner quantum computing tools to enter the market and allow them to decrypt that illicitly obtained data using quantum processing power.

Can Regulation Get the Jump on Quantum Computing’s Capabilities?

While quantum computers can be leveraged to crack the code on existing encryption methods, their groundbreaking capabilities can also be used to better secure communications in a new quantum world. 

The world’s leading powers, including governments and corporations, are currently in a race to commercialize and develop quantum technology. 

Chinese researchers have already made claims earlier this year that they are currently capable of breaking modern encryptions — highlighting the impact the technology is already having on national security concerns. 

As PYMNTS reported, the current U.S. presidential administration, spurred by concerns around the use of AI, met with CEOs of four companies that are leaders in the field: OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, Anthropic CEO Dario Amodei, Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella, and Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai.

“AI is one of the most powerful technologies of our time, but in order to seize the opportunities it presents, we must first mitigate its risks,” the White House said. 

Now might be a good time to get going on a quantum computing oversight framework, too.