Gary Fowler is a serial AI entrepreneur with 16 startups and an IPO. He is CEO and Co-Founder of GSDVS.com and Yva.ai.
The modern-day internet isn’t as almighty as once thought to be; instead, it has developed many vulnerability points that can easily be hacked and manipulated. Due to the vulnerabilities like uncomplicated passwords and insecure transactions, the future of the internet holds a solution for prevention and fortification to protect the internet from hackers globally.
This solution is called quantum physics.
Quantum internet networks are a new realm where objects can hold multiple states at once, where the traditional assumptions and limitations of computers and connections do not apply anymore. And while this is a solution that will become fully viable much later in the future, we have already arrived at the age where the capabilities of quantum computing and quantum networks can be proven possible, if not already applicable.
The U.S. Department of Defense, for instance, has already released the first blueprint of a detailed game plan of their strategy to realize the concept of quantum internet in the next few years. The U.S. has also joined the EU and China in revolutionizing the area of quantum communications.
But what is the quantum internet and what doors does it open in the future?
The quantum internet is essentially the network connecting quantum computers — or other devices — and allowing them to share information in an environment operating based on the rules of quantum mechanics. This implies a new level of efficiency that simply cannot be accomplished with the web and computer capabilities traditionally used around the world.
Unlike the traditional data encoding based on bits, the quantum world uses data encoded in quantum bits — or qubits — that are inherently different from the traditional coding of information into a sequence of 0’s and 1’s. Qubits, in contrast to bits, are not binary in their nature, meaning that they can, in fact, hold two states at once, rather than one at a time — a phenomenon known as superposition. And the quantum internet will essentially transmit qubits from physically distanced quantum devices.
One way to think of qubits superposing is actually having the cake and eating it — two states at once.
This capability, among many others, opens new doors for more unique applications of quantum mechanics to create large-scale networks and transmitting data.
One of the most promising areas where quantum mechanics promises a bigger shift toward the better is online security and safer communication.
Quantum Key Distribution
Modern-day encryption that ensures data and communication security relies on algorithms that generate keys for the two parties involved in communication they can use to encrypt the communication. While the encryption method is secure and sophisticated, unfortunately, it is not entirely impossible to hack into or break.
For this reason, scientists have been looking for ways to increase the security of encryption and communication by making it more quantum-driven; the idea of quantum cybersecurity has been called quantum key distribution (QKD). At the basis of the concept is the process of communication between two parties, where the sender encrypts traditional data by encoding it onto qubits and transmits them to the receiver, who then measures the properties of the qubits to decode the information. The best way to visualize this process is to think of qubits as the transportation method for the information — as soon as the receiver begins measuring the values of qubits, they begin to collapse.
What’s especially important in this process is that quantum key distribution allows to easily identify if the data was compromised or a third party attempted to hack the transmission. Since the interruption of the process by a third party would have caused the qubits to collapse, the receiver wouldn’t be able to measure the value transported any longer. Additionally, if a hacker were to attempt to access the value on a qubit, the qubit would change its state, leaving a trace for the direct parties to extrapolate foul play.
Another capability that qubits have that can be leveraged for more secure data transmission is called entanglement. The best way to conceptualize this property is by comparing it to the sci-fi idea of teleportation: Essentially, entanglement implies two qubits interacting and sharing interdependent properties. In this process, if one qubit changes its state, the other qubit will alter its state as well, even if the qubits are scattered at a long distance. And what this means is, one qubit teleports value to the other qubit, even if there is no physical proximity or connection between them.
While this all may sound futuristic, we are close to achieving these changes today. China has already made revolutionary progress in achieving entanglement in QKD over a distance of 745 miles — an unprecedented result as of today. The EU established the Quantum Internet Alliance in 2018 and has so far achieved entanglement over a distance of 31 miles. Finally, the US Department of Defense has also developed entanglement over a 52-mile quantum loop that is projected to be scaled to an 80-mile quantum test area.
What’s Ahead For Business Leaders
Of course, the reality of quantum computing in widespread use is years away. But even these advancements within the confines of experiments and tests indicate that companies need to begin to seriously think about internal and external digital transformation. It’s becoming more and more clear that success and competitiveness in the future will be defined by a business’s agility. The ability to quickly adapt to the larger technological changes and level of digitization will likely become even more central to success. Taking the quantum future as a sign, businesses need to begin thinking about digitizing internal data, adopting new technologies like AI to automate internal processes and augmenting the abilities of employees. These steps will help prepare companies for a digital-first and tech-driven future we have already stepped into today.
The truth is, a revolution is coming. And it has already begun making significant promises for security, speed, efficiency and capabilities.