Could IBM’s Universal Quantum Computing be a Threat to Bitcoin?

Quantum computer is a technology trend that can have a major impact on our society. Although the broad effect of quantum computing remains to be determined, IBM is rolling out their universal quantum computer service to the world. An intriguing development that may have significant consequences for the bitcoin network as well.

IBM’s Global Quantum Computing Service Is Coming

Up until a few years ago, it seemed impossible to think of a consumer-grade quantum computing service. After all, very few people outside of the enterprise industry would ever have a need for such a computer. IBM thinks differently, though, as the company is looking toward to the future of quantum computers. In fact, their universal quantum computing service will roll out by the end of 2017.

Under the IBM Q banner, this new service will give access to early-stage quantum computer resources over the internet. A fee will be charged for this service, though, albeit the exact price structure remains unknown for the time being. Additionally, there is a concern over the power IBM’s quantum computer provides, as it is a model that is not much faster than the average home computer. The technology giant acknowledges this and stated how they expect to upgrade their hardware capacity by a factor of ten in the next few years.

These news are quite exciting, although there is not much reason for more than careful optimism right now. The qubits required to make IBM’s quantum computer more powerful are not easy to manipulate and will only work under strict temperature conditions. Perhaps this is why IBM is focusing on the software side of quantum computing as well, rather than just the hardware. Giving the public access to these software tools can lead to many new innovations along the way.

In the long run, IBM helps to create a functional, commercial cloud-based service, which should be operational by the time a proper quantum computer comes online. An intriguing concept, albeit there are some issues that will need to be overcome first and foremost. Putting this machine in the cloud makes a lot of sense right now, yet simulating and programming for such a quantum computer will be a different matter. Only time will tell if IBM can be successful in this regard.

What is of particular concern is how the IBM Q service will impact bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in the future. Some scientists predict quantum computers have the power to destroy bitcoin altogether, as these machines can undermine the cryptography associated with public and private keys. A very bold statement that should not be shrugged off by any means. Then again, we are not close to seeing a quantum computer being realized just yet.

Protecting bitcoin from quantum computers will be a challenge, that much is certain. It would require new cryptography standards to be integrated into the protocol directly. Some developers have already begun development in this regard, although it may take a while until we see quantum-proof technology being part of the bitcoin protocol. The bigger question is whether or not these new standards will arrive before quantum computing becomes available or not.

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