Is Quantum Computing a Threat to Bitcoin? IBM’s Processor In

  • IBM has shared a new roadmap and updated plan for its quantum computing endeavors noting that it will execute 100 million gates over 200 qubits in 2029 before a 10x improvement by 2033.
  • These developments have raised concerns in the crypto community, as the technology threatens Bitcoin in the form of network penetration.

IBM, the global technology innovator, leading advances in AI, automation, and hybrid cloud solutions, has announced its plans in the quantum computing space. The team on December 04 unveiled its 1,121-qubit “Condor” quantum computing processor. This makes it the company’s largest by qubit count and, arguably, the world’s most advanced gate-based, superconducting quantum system.

The technology leader has further revealed its plans, stating that it is on track to execute 100 million gates over 200 qubits in 2029 before a 10x improvement by 2033. In a blog post, IBM fellow and vice president of quantum computing Jay Gambetta stated;

Then, in 2029, we hit an inflection point: executing 100 million gates over 200 qubits with our Starling processor employing error correction based on the novel Gross code. This is followed by Blue Jay, a system capable of executing 1 billion gates across 2,000 qubits by 2033. This represents a nine order-of-magnitude increase in performed gates since we put our first device on the cloud in 2016.

According to experts, this is a major feat for the technology industry with its usefulness and application unbounded. However, there is one key concern for the crypto community. It is long rumored that the technology can break into the Bitcoin blockchain, undermining its sovereignty.

Is Quantum Computing a Threat to Bitcoin?

One of the applications of computing power is to break the mathematical difficulty underlying most of the currently used cryptography. In an article written by Aleksey K. Fedorov, Evgeniy O. Kiktenko, and Alexander I. Lvovsky, researchers from the Russian Quantum Center, the researchers warned that Quantum technology would be able to crack Bitcoin, exposing private keys from any public key. The researchers wrote;

Yet, within ten years, quantum computers will be able to calculate the one-way functions, including blockchains, that are used to secure the Internet and financial transactions. Widely deployed one-way encryption will instantly become obsolete.

It is clear that in the face of it, the advancement of quantum computing poses a threat to blockchain technology. In the past, experts have explained that all coins in p2pk addresses and reused p2pkh addresses are vulnerable to a quantum attack. Fortunately, after dominating in the first year of the creation of the network, most coins being earned through mining, these accounts have remained constant. This means only a very small fraction would be in danger of attack, about 4 million BTC (about 25 percent of all Bitcoins). Interestingly, a majority of owners of these stashs have lost their private keys. These tokens can be secured by the Bitcoin community coming together in a consensus to move the tokens to safer addresses.

For the entirety of the blockchain, experts note that as long as the network takes approximately 10 minutes to be completed, it will be safe since estimations predict that a quantum computer will take about 8 hours to break an RSA key. Other calculations predict that a Bitcoin signature could be hacked within half an hour, placing the network in danger only if there is congestion that sees transactions take more than 30 minutes.


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