Podcast: The Overhype and Underestimation of Quantum Computing

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In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks at how Quantum Computing is overhyped and underestimated at the same time.

The episode starts out with Henry being cranky. It also ends with Henry being cranky. But between those two events, we discuss and Shahin’s trip to the Q2B quantum computing conference in San Jose.

Not surprisingly, there is a lot of activity in quantum, with nearly every country pushing the envelop outward. One of the big concerns is that existing cryptography is now vulnerable to quantum cracking. Shahin assures us that this isn’t the case today and is probably a decade away, which is another way of saying nobody knows, so it could be next week, but probably not.

We also learn the term “NISQ” which is a descriptive acronym for the current state of quantum systems. NISQ stands for “Noisy Intermediate Scale Quantum” computing. The conversation touches on various ways quantum computing is used now and where it’s heading, plus the main reason why everyone seems to be kicking the tires on quantum:  the fear of missing out. It’s a very exciting area, but to Shahin, it seems like how AI was maybe 8-10 years ago, so still early days.

Other highlights:

  • Henry lays out a dizzying scenario where hackers contact a person, telling them that their credit card is about to be used by an unauthorized party and advising them to call the police. When the person calls the police, the hackers intercept the call and, while pretending to be the authorities, extract personal details, credit card numbers, etc. This is possible because the hackers have taken over the telephone switch. Ouch, scary stuff.
  • Shahin offers up a discussion of a vast array of quantum stuff, even including a reference to Schrodinger’s half-dead cat. He also discusses how quantum can provide exponential speed ups over traditional computing and the promise of quantum in the future.
  • Jessi Brings up how Emotet malware hackers are using high-school environmental activist Greta Thunberg as a lure to infect users with Emotet and other malicious software. The hook is in the form of an attachment, “Support Greta Thunberg.doc”, which, when opened, will launch a malicious macro that downloads the Emotet Trojan and executes it. Nasty stuff. https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/emotet-malware-uses-greta-thunberg-demonstration-invites-as-lure/
  • Shahin Never one to leave well enough alone, Shahin brings up quantum computing yet again by discussing a quantum comic strip (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal) that does a great job of explaining quantum concepts in cartoon form. What’s next? Using sock puppets to explain HPC?

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