NewsWhat Is the Quantum Internet and Who Will Use It?

What Is the Quantum Internet and Who Will Use It?

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Quantum information is a distinct concept from traditional information. When we send information via the internet, it’s encrypted in bits. Each bit could be one or 0. Quantum mechanics allows systems be superposed of states. An experiment that is famously known as Schrodinger’s Cat proved that quantum cats can be in a superposition between “dead” and “alive”. This means that it could be in a state where it is not alive or dead that is impossible outside of the quantum world. Superposition states are extremely difficult to keep. Returning to our cat even though it could be in this bizarre superposition state, if we try to look at it, we’ll break the superposition and will see dead or living cat. Similar to the cat quantum bits (qubit) could have a superposition between one and zero, that allows for a range of exciting applications. However, just like the cat the superposition is fragile and all quantum properties could be destroyed quickly if the system gets disrupted.

Quantum networks are network that allows quantum data to be exchanged through quantum nodes. These can be quantum computers, quantum sensors, or quantum cryptography modules. These quantum-sized networks are essential to connect quantum computers, and allowing them to function together as supercomputers do. Quantum internet is a massive quantum network that permits multiple users around the globe to exchange quantum information via quantum nodes, such as quantum computer, quantum sensor and quantum cryptography devices.

What I’ve learned is the fact that this is not meant for sending cat memes from each other. Even Schrodinger’s Cat memes. Let me know, then, what do you think it is useful to you?

The most well-known applications of a quantum internet revolve around security of data. The quantum system is able to function within hyperposition (think that of a cat which is not dead or alive) however, it is not monitored when in superposition (when we see the cat, it’s dead or live) which makes it an excellent tool to protect data. The most straightforward application of cryptography is to distribute the secure key which is used to secure data. An even more intriguing application is private computing where users can run an application on a PC in the cloud without anyone else, including the computer — knowing what they’re running. This is an extremely important security concept in a world that is increasingly shifting towards cloud computing. Imagine using Gmail without having to depend on Google to protect your data.

Another example is sensing. Quantum sensors are significantly more sensitive than traditional sensors. It is due to their ability to remain in the superposition. Quantum internets will enable many sensors to work together through the same state, which can be superpositional. This could allow unique situations like having a system of sensors from all over the world appear as one giant device. If that weren’t enoughsecurity, that feature referred to earlier would be an option that is free and can be used to shield the data collected from prying public.

If you’re a sensor for digital or you’re dealing with major problems with trusting, QI may be the right choice for you! What else can it do to alter the user experience?

It’s a difficult problem to solve. Consider asking yourself what global network could be utilized for in the late 60s , when ARPANET was being designed. Today, the applications (like those we’ve just talked about) focus on powerful users like large corporations and government agencies that have to safeguard their data and utilize highly accurate sensors.

From their point of view from their perspective, this development is an extension of current developments in sensors and security. One exception is the possibility to safely utilize quantum computers on the cloud. Quantum computers have the ability to do certain computations however, they are expected to be costly to build and maintain. It is possible to utilize them with security and secure an centralized location could allow more users and give a huge computational capacity.

If we look further into the future, a quantum-based internet that is available in every house would provide an unprecedented level of privacy and security. Imagine accessing Google without Google being aware of who you are and the things you’re doing. The potential, both positive and negative, is huge.

We’ll be able to wrest some privacy back against the wholly-seeing and all-knowing technological giants, if we’re smart enough. But not everyone is well-informed, as I’m sure that’s why there will likely be systems that can leverage the technology in a way that is invisible. Are people aware that they’re making use of it?

As of now all users or quantum tech is aware of the fact that they are using quantum technology. But the goal for developers is to make the experience for users as easy as is possible. In most cases, you’re not aware of whether someone has changed the security settings on your PC or if your internet service provider has upgraded its network. It is possible that you notice the speed of your computer is increasing however, you might not even be aware of the reason. This is especially true for the top of the line in quantum technology quantum computers. As an individual user, you may find yourself being able to run certain applications that were impossible previously, but you’d not have to be aware of what is causing this. Consider the instance of the technology needed to enable streaming Netflix on your mobile. Many people are not aware of the technology’s significance They just know it works, and may even realize that the cost of their phone has increased.

Okay, but here’s a major one. There’s been a lot of discussion about quantum phenomena and has been for quite a while however the reality appears to have hit all sorts of bricks. Tell us what you think about quantum computing really possible? Quantum Internet actually possible?

Yes. There are many issues with a quantum internet however the basic theories are based on quantum mechanics, our best tried and tested physical theory. If we can find a reason which makes an Quantum Internet impossible, it could be the most significant technological breakthrough in the past 100 years.

It’s good to know! I’m happy to see that things appear to be improving. Would you be able to tell us more about the person who is developing this Quantum Internet and how far ahead are we in the process?

Quantum communication is an academic field over the past 50 years, but it has experienced an enormous increase during the 20th century. But it was and predominantly in the domain of physicists as well as computational scientists who study theoretical aspects of computers. In the past few years there is a shift towards industrial applications, with some consideration has been given to the engineering. One reason why this field isn’t as active (in the industry) like quantum computing because the most crucial uses of a quantum internet will require some of the nodes to become quantum computers.

Recently, US policies by the government have resulted in some initiatives in the industry, such as some startups which specialize in the development of quantum networking technology. These are complemented by a variety of companies and multinational companies that are engaged in quantum cryptography. The demonstrations of quantum networks that span long distances are networks spread across different cities, and quantum communication using satellites.

Quantum computing, a new and rapidly expanding industry is essential for quantum network. A majority of the current attempts to develop quantum computers will require a networked structure that includes a number of small quantum computers that work together on an (local) quantum networks. This is like HPCs made up out of many computing Nodes (each node is the equivalent of a computer). Although the networks needed for quantum computers differ from the quantum web, the essential components are identical. Many quantum computing companies are currently or thinking about quantum networking. In the last two years, a handful of quantum networking companies (e.g., Entangled Networks) have been focusing on the networking aspect that are part of “multi-core” quantum computation.

I’m getting so amped! What is the distance to getting to Quantum Internet being a reality?

A fully-fledged (worldwide) quantum Internet is far from a distant dream but it’s difficult to determine when all of the required components will be in place for its deployment. But, the necessity of quantum network technology as part of the ongoing efforts to build quantum computers is bringing the dream closer to becoming a realisation. This is a result of the need to secure data, as well as the growing maturity of point-to-point quantum cryptography. Current timelines in the industry show the demand for networks of “multi-core” quantum computers sometime during the middle of the decade (see for instance IBM’s most recent roadmap). These timelines suggest that the required elements for a quantum internet are likely to be in place by the close of the decade. Then it is an issue of the maturity of applications that go beyond cryptography, and the necessity for quantum cryptography on the internet. A quantum internet will propel government and industry towards quantum internet.

Michal Pukala
Electronics and Telecommunications engineer with Electro-energetics Master degree graduation. Lightning designer experienced engineer. Currently working in IT industry.