Thirty Minutes with Dr. Justin Dressel
It seems quite evident that computers are taking, yet, another leap in their evolutionary timeline according to Chapman University’s physics professor, Justin Dressel, Ph.D.
First off, I apologize that this article only covers the last thirty minutes of Dressel’s hour-long talk. However, this part of the talk dealt with mind-stimulating questions from the audience, which centered around the security of quantum computing. In response, Dressel answered eloquently and concisely. These questions and answers were not written down word-for-word, therefore, my own interpretations are used to decipher and expand on the concepts brought up by both the audience and Dressel:
1. What are some of the security flaws of quantum computers?
A) The most basic, and prevalent security flaw with quantum computers are that they can be disrupted easily. For instance, accidentally running into the computer or jostling it can be a potential threat to the information that it is containing (not a computer that can be stored in a backpack by any means). Furthermore, even the heat that a being’s body emulates can distort the computer in some manner.
2. In regards to the quantum computers, what repercussions do Federal and National security face by using them?
A) The evident repercussions of using quantum computers are the following:
- The tedious stride to make the technology resilient (i.e., become less sensitive to the environments it may encounter).
- The exhausting anxiety that goes along with protecting the information stored inside of the computers. This aspect of quantum computers directly aligns with tactics used during the Cold War era. A large part of the war was gaining top secret information from enemy countries while keeping the information attained away from those countries without them knowing it. Subsequently, quantum computers may be bringing us into a hyper-sensitive, technologically-advanced, Cold War time period.
3. What does quantum computing mean in terms of online retailers? For instance, Amazon’s website uses encryption in order to gather and protect one’s credit card information.
A) When it came to this question, the conversation began to take a different turn in terms of security. Now, different from the past, corporations have the ability to take on different entities. Let us look at Amazon again.
Amazon began as an online Barnes & Noble, but now has become the world’s largest online retailer. You can find whatever you want on Amazon. To that point, Amazon has found a way to make whatever they want, including a form of artificial intelligence!
Amazing what corporations can do now isn’t it?
So, and what Dressel spoke to, corporations are centering around the efficiency, instant gratification, and world-wide market that the Internet gives access to and the benefits that come out of meandering with technology. Along with that, consumers are entering the online market with little to no knowledge of what they are actually getting themselves into or what their technology does. Dressel extrapolated that this needs to change,
He, with the help of my patchy memory, said that society needs to become educated on the power of these online companies. Putting Amazon aside, who is undoubtedly a very trustworthy operation (PLEASE HIRE ME), we must pay attention to the online retailers that are not so friendly. Similar to meeting people in life, some do not have the best intentions. Dressel said that our way to catch these bad intenders when going to enter our credit card numbers into those boxes, is by checking the bit length for encryption.
Now, I may need to backup here and explain what
and what bit length is.
If you do not know, do not feel dumb or intimidated because I barely knew what is was until about a week ago.
Ignoring my lack of past-to-near-present knowledge, encryption is a fancy word for the process of the information that is entered into a computer becoming code-language (or 0’s and 1’s like in a binary system).
Scarily enough, bit length is a bit (haha) more complex. A bit is the smallest unit of measurement pertaining to data that is entered into a computer. So, bit length is an estimate of the amount of data that is within the computer. The more data, the more information can be stored. Thus, Dressel concludes that websites with a bit length ranging from 2048 to around 4000 is a safe place to enter your personal information.
4. Did the Russian hacks have anything to do with a lack of complex encryption (referring to the U.S.’s National security)?
A) Dressel could not answer this question because the United State’s government has not released exactly how the hacks were carried out.
5. China has claimed that they have a satellite that can make quantum computations. Is this possible?
A) Dressel’s reaction to this question was almost a laugh, followed by an uneasy look on his face. Yet, I do not think this uneasy look was due to fact that China may have that powerful of a satellite, but rather the way in which China would have gone about making it. He said the assembly of such a machine would take the following:
- Laser (classical beam)
- Photon absorption
Now, this is where the conversation reached a pinnacle for my confusion. In other words, this is going to be a VERY rough explanation for how information would be transferred to this satellite.
In short, he said that the information would be transferred from the earth to the satellite in space, via the laser. However, the laser would have to be accompanied by a “notch of photon absorption” in order to match, and calm down the robustness of the laser. This taming of robustness would help preserve the information during the turbulence that it would experience on its journey to the satellite.
With that, Justin Dressel ended his talk with an audience much more educated on the security and importance of quantum computers.