Quantacalypse Now

Or maybe it’s the Cryptocalypse That Will Happen at a Later Date.  In any case, predictions are often where the money is.

Here is a brief literature review.

Now that quantum supremacy has been achieved, there is a lot being written about it being the end of the world in one way or another.  The most predictable is Roger A. Grimes’ Cryptography Apocalypse, ISBN-13: 978-1119618195, which just came out on November 5. Chapter 3, part I, d, 4, i, is conveniently entitled “It Was Always ’10 Years From Now.”  

This provides us with a great transition to Post-Quantum Crytography, ISBN-13: 978-3540887010, which first published 11 years ago, in November 2008.  The book opens with Daniel J. Berstein, the principle author, asking, “Is cryptography dead?”  He then lightens up the proceedings by offering “A taste of post-quantum cryptography.”  This is another case of the end being solved around the time of the beginning.  Nakamoto’s paper came out in 2008.  On page 3, he cites MIT’s Peter Shor, who anticipated most of this in 1994.

Prof. Peter Shor was awarded the 2018 Micius Prize earlier this year.  Schor is not only a pioneer in this field but a pioneer in open source scholarship.  Most of his papers are on his site.

Jennifer Chu at MIT News simplified Shor’s work for the rest of us in 2016 in her piece “The beginning of the end for encryption schemes?”.

Kirill P. Kalinin and Natalia G. Berloff at Cambridge in the UK and the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in the Russian Federation published on this topic in 2018.  Blockchain platform with proof-of-work based on analog Hamiltonian optimizers proposes an interesting solution to the challenges of quantum supremacy.

Rounding out this literature review, we have Investigation of Blockchain Network Security by Jack Kelly, Michelle Lauer, Ryan Prinster and Stephanie Zhang.  “Quantum Vulnerabilities,” is the first thing I have noticed looking at quantum supremacy with a view towards its weaknesses.  Scroll down to section 5.3.3.


Carbon copy of 1971 order form for the book Future Shock.
Here is the future as it looked in the past. This is a 1971 carbon copy of an order form for the book Future Shock by Alvin Toffler.  Photo by Peter Laurence.

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