Science 4 min read

Quantum Infrastructure Part 1: How Close are we to Quantum Internet?

Abstract quantum graphic. | Dmitriy Rybin |

Abstract "quantum" graphic. | Dmitriy Rybin |

Quantum Infrastructure Table of Contents:

  1. How Close are we to Quantum Infrastructure? An Introduction
  2. How Close are we to Quantum Internet?
  3. How Close are we to Quantum Devices?
  4. Quantum Key Distribution is the end of Malware?

As the world’s first quantum satellite is up and running, we could be just years away from a global quantum information network. The Internet might go “quantum” by 2030.

We all use the Internet to send and receive information, which our computers interpret by reading ‘bits’. The current global internet network involves the use of radio signals, optical fibers, and satellites.

As a data transfer system, “classical” Internet has changed the face of the world by enabling fast and easy communication.

What is the Internet’s main drawback? It is easy for third-parties to interfere with communications, steal data, and infect networks with harmful programs.

Read More: Quantum Key Distribution: the Future of Data Security

As we’ve discussed, quantum networks, on the other hand, would leverage quantum entanglement to “teleport” virtually unhackable information. Any attempt to join the transfer of data would instantly be recognized by all parties, making hacking “impossible” on quantum networks.

The First Building Block of Quantum Internet

Mozi (470-391 BCE) is a Chinese philosopher who challenged Confucianism and broke away from its cumbersome ritualistic system.

Mozi (2016-) is a Chinese quantum communication satellite that lays the foundation of a quantum Internet. It promises a new age of instant and safe communication.

In August 2016, China launched the Quantum Science Satellite, nicknamed Micius, which became the world’s first quantum satellite. Last year, the satellite was successfully tested by sending data via an entangled photon.

Then, on September 29th, 2017, Chinese and Austrian researchers managed for the first time to establish quantum-coded intercontinental video conference.

Using the Mozi satellite in low-Earth orbit, entangled photons ensured that only the ground teams at stations in China and Austria have the quantum key to access the communication.

There’s still the possibility of an authorized party intercepting the transmission, but, as we mentioned, all parties would instantly be alerted. Per the laws of quantum mechanics, a particle instantly reflects any change experienced by the other particles with which it’s entangled.

This experiment shows the viability of the concept and marks a step towards quantum communication network.

Quantum Internet Could be a Little Over a Decade Away

Quantum-encrypted data transfer on the global scale similar to the traditional Internet requires efficient infrastructure in the form of a network of quantum satellites.

Quantum scientists Jian-Wei Pan, leader of the Micius satellite project, said they would launch other quantum satellites in the coming years.

Pan also expects that other countries would follow in their footsteps and a global quantum network could be a reality as early as 2030.

In 2016, Bill Gates has also given a ten-year window for quantum cloud computing to develop.

“There is a chance that within 6-10 years that cloud computing will offer super-computation by using quantum,” said Gates during a “Ask Me Anything” interview session on Reddit. “It could help us solve some very important science problems including materials and catalyst design.”

A Quantum Cloud would increase storage capacities of data centers and ensure optimum reliability with (100%) real-time data availability.

Don’t, however, expect much to change when it comes to your usual web browsing.

Most likely, quantum satellites and quantum servers will not cater to everyday internet browsing.

That would be a huge waste of resources as the regular network would still be more than enough to handle feuds on social media.

Because of the theoretical quantum information network’s foolproof security, it will likely be used to shore up communications between diplomatic, military, and academic entities.

With most major U.S. tech companies focusing on developing practical quantum computers, would the big quantum broadband providers be Chinese?

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

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