The Bitcoin Blockchain may be best equipped to detect the first iteration of a technology that might also be the undoing of the digital currency, Quantum Computing. This, at least, is the theory behind an article written by JEFF JOHN ROBERTS for Fortune.
Is he right? Will Quantum Computing ultimately kill Bitcoin and other blockchain-based cryptocurrencies? Or will they adapt and shift before the new technology fully emerges?
Alex Beath, a Toronto-based physicist and pension fund analyst, is skeptical about Bitcoin but sees one useful purpose for the crypto-currency: It may detect when someone creates a working quantum computer.
“The second someone creates a viable quantum computer, the NP-complete math problems at the heart of Bitcoin mining tech become instantly solvable,” Beath notes. “In other words, one answer to the question ‘what’s the first thing you’d do with a quantum computer?’ is ‘mine all of the remaining Bitcoin instantly.’ Until that happens, nobody has a quantum computer.”
Beath’s off-the-cuff observation, which he made in response to a Fortune query about the security of bitcoin, is amusing. But it also underscores a serious problem: Namely, a new era of computing is fast-approaching and when it arrives, the system that gave rise to many crypto-currency fortunes will collapse.
This threat to Bitcoin and other software systems that use the same underlying encryption technique—a technique likely to crumble in the face of a quantum-based attack—is not new. Indeed, it was predicted decades ago, and Ethereum founder (and former journalist) Vitalik Buterin wrote about how to defend it in 2013.