Whether you are a tech nerd or not, if you have got yourself in the trading or mining business of the massive uprising cryptocurrency Bitcoin, you have to be aware of the technological challenges associated with the project or else it may result in a significant loss. Such is the issue of ‘Quantum Supremacy’ being a threat to the crypto world, a phrase used by the Google 72 qubit quantum computer creators.
Quantum supremacy means that they created a quantum computer that was able to perform a task in 200 seconds which would have taken a present supercomputer almost 10,000 years. Wait! Does that mean the end of the SHA-256, the encryption algorithm which is the heart of Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies? Well, we have to get into the tech and find out.
For a quantum computer to be a threat to the crypto universe, we need a stable QC that can handle more than 1500 qubits and it must be able to take full advantage of all of them. Considering the challenges associated with quantum computers and the fact that we are far away from being making a stable structure to be able to handle even 150 qubits, Bitcoin has no threats so far. But, it would be utter ignorance to not prepare for a time when a quantum computer will be able to break Shor’s algorithm which is considered a benchmark.
Quantum supremacy ending the dominance of Shor’s algorithm would pretty much mean an end to the current crypto encryption algorithms. The Bitcoin world will get several warnings before that end-stage in the shape of quantum computers being able to decrypt several currently famous algorithms. Yes, Bitcoin can be technologically made immune to quantum computers but we need to prepare well before time as it will be no use to upgrade the systems when all the private keys have already been stolen.
Let’s consider the trends in the rise of the quantum computing, in 2015, we had 4 qubits QC which increases to 9(IBM), 50(IBM), and 72(Google) in 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively. Considering those, it will hypothetically take 2.2 to 5.2 years before we are able to see QC threatening BTC. But as we add more bits to a QC, the more unstable it becomes which means we are roughly 30 years away from finding QC overtaking Bitcoin. But the important thing for the crypto people would be to prepare well before time and take necessary measures from seeing a revolution been taken away by a computational turnaround.