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Angry Nerd: Don't Fall for the Quantum Con


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Schrodinger's cat, in a superposition of life and death until someone opens the box.

Quantum encryption is cool, but the marketers need to cool off.

Credit: StoryTK

Have you ever really looked at a photon? Part wave, part particle, all perfection. Yet they bring out the worst in some ­people, who bring out the worst in me. Let's start with the obvious: Photons, in all their quantum quintessence, can improve the security of internet connections.

Anybody can poke around standard-­issue encryption keys undetected, but when the 1s and 0s are hooked into specific photons, that snooping triggers telltale state changes—revealing the presence of a hacker! Clever, right? What's less clever, and more maddening, are the ways companies over­hype this style of quantum cryptography. They witter of an "unbreakable" and "unhackable" internet. I like quantum engineering projects as much as any midichlorian-blooded nerd, but a cybersecurity panacea? Au quantraire! The suggestion turns me into Schrödinger's sourpuss: neither angry nor disappointed but a super­position of both.

 

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