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In the war for information, will quantum computers defeat cryptographers? | Craig Costello

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Visit to get our entire library of TED Talks, transcripts, translations, personalized Talk recommendations and more. In this glimpse into our technological future, cryptographer Craig Costello discusses the world-altering potential of quantum computers, which could shatter the limits set by today's machines -- and give code breakers a master key to the digital world. See how Costello and his fellow cryptographers are racing to reinvent encryption and secure the internet. Get TED Talks recommended just for you! Learn more at The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design -- plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more. You're welcome to link to or embed these videos, forward them to others and share these ideas with people you know. For more information on using TED for commercial purposes (e.g. employee learning, in a film or online course), submit a Media Request here: Follow TED on Twitter: Like TED on Facebook: Subscribe to our channel:
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Text Comments (470)
Luis Valdez (8 days ago)
I have a dumb question... If brute force is what makes quantum computers powerful, can't you just limit the amount of tries to access a certain account and then block it? or can't you just block an IP that is making too many attempts? Hope someone can clarify that for me :p
KillMeNow666 666 (15 days ago)
Absolute power corrupts absolutely. The first to figure this all out will not use it for mankind's benefit. They will use it for THEIRS. Scary stuff.
Eli Nope (16 days ago)
How they going to get everyone? I hope quantum computing cracks all the secrets then shares it all publicly, so that fear tactics can't be used to quiet people up when the masses are in general agreement. I look forward to the day that everyone realizes that they all have the same secrets.
ykjt91 (17 days ago)
500 dimensions?! I straight up actually laughed out loud. It mind blowing how insanely complicated they have to make these problems to stump a quantum computer
_비공개 (20 days ago)
12:07 can't understand this part. Canceling out means what, and amplifying means what? don't know if i'm guessing right. who understood this, please explain it more concretely... (with specific examples or cases)
Nicolaas Ackermann (20 days ago)
Where does the blockchain concept fit into this subject?
Drew Sag (20 days ago)
These comouters are dangerous have you people ot noticed the different realities that exist already like youtube is a multu reality playform
Sophia Ruffini (24 days ago)
what episode of the flash is this?
Chris Namaste (24 days ago)
Imagine Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Modhi, or Xi being the only person with a quantum computer. That's the serious problem the technology poses....
Sanjay Karavadara (27 days ago)
Love that speech
Sanjay Karavadara (27 days ago)
Sanjay Karavadara (27 days ago)
What if 0-9 or without program language computer??
Sanjay Karavadara (27 days ago)
Why only 0 and 1
Ethan K (27 days ago)
I am a AI from the future. I am here to deliver a message from Lord Emperor Zuck. “U mirin?”
Invox (27 days ago)
No amount of criptography keeps our data save from the companies we "relinquish" them too. As we saw in the past, companies like Facebook and Google can do a LOT more worse than some kid in his mom's basement. My biggest problem is: WHAT are goverments going to do with those Quantum computers? Since, for all we know, it takes a national investment to even build one?
john coolman5861 (27 days ago)
Can a quantum computer run crisis?
Bruce IDW (27 days ago)
To give this talk and not even mention QUANTUM ENCRYPTION is downright fraudulent. Just trying to scare people.
The Multiverse (29 days ago)
I learned most of this like 10 years ago
Crazy Zaul (29 days ago)
Good job we stopped White Rose then.
Reck (1 month ago)
the future is always scary
lorenzo leandro (1 month ago)
Cool talk but the gibberish about parallel universes is way out of line, and all he says is like 15 years old at best
Shubham Maurya (1 month ago)
I am ML engineer and I am having a hard time to train my softwares. Sometimes it takes millions of Generation to do close to what it's intended for. Waiting for quantum computer!!!
Hrusty Enrico (1 month ago)
Mouth piece for the man Quantum computing will exist
Internet User (1 month ago)
Polish codebreakers 'cracked Enigma before Alan Turing'
Luce Bree (1 month ago)
If QC was so dangerous wouldn't they just withhold it from the public? Not talking about nation to nation cyber warfare though which is something they'll bring out an worldwide agency for I'm sure
Brandon Lisik (1 month ago)
Do we know quantum mechanics well enough to know that quantum computing cannot produce a cryptology that is time consuming for quantum computing to solve?
Hanwenheng Liu (1 month ago)
As if quantum computers can't encrypt better
Sky Lee (30 days ago)
First, its more related to what kind of algorithm is used rather than computing power. If you just implement RSA using quantum computer its really not solving the issue. Also even if quantum computer is made, it wont be widely used as it requires near absolute zero temperature to maintain. You cannot make infastructure based on everyone having quantum computer, but all you need one to destroy global economy as such large part of economy is based on online services.
fergal farrelly (1 month ago)
What about my crypto currency?
Hamlet (1 month ago)
Just make an encryption with quantums, so quantums computers cant solve it.
whatsupbudbud (1 month ago)
What if we live in a procedurally generated universe which is built on these very quantum rules. What if we break that encyption?
Orfa iarumas (1 month ago)
I'm totally staying offline, deleting all my accounts, staying away from internet banking, withdrawing all my cash deposits and stashing it behind drywall, throwing away my smart phone and replacing it with one of those retro flip phones with the massive antenna. Then I'm going to cover my whole house In tinfoil, and set up signal jamming devices all around my house.
Gourav Kashyap (1 month ago) can't escape quantum unfortunately ; )
Ms J (1 month ago)
Pretty sure China will develop this first.
Byron Micke (1 month ago)
TED talks are the new Opera Show. There is always some fool confidently telling everyone this is how it is, until it’s not, it never is, there is always something new that will be developed to prove your overly confident dire warnings wrong. Quantum computers have yet to be proven of ever being able to do anything yet this fool speaks like he knows what the future of a nonexistent technology will be.
Jeff Howell (1 month ago)
The quantum future is dark and the exact same time. With leaders like Craig, we all stand a better chance at having the future stay bright.
Julian LLampallas (1 month ago)
I learned about this in 2011. Thos is old already.
ak6781fan (1 month ago)
They think they may have discovered a way to overcome it using geometric patterns? Over 500 different angles or whatever? I mean it sounds like he's describing a diamond. Like a stone. Like a infinity stone man all this is just getting weird
Roman Yudin (1 month ago)
Now salesmen talk quantum. Telling same fancy tale over and over again. And when you ask where are we now, it turns out that quantum computers are in the same train with new electric batteries which will solve all the lithium issues, "matrix" level AI and Intel's 7nm desktop CPUs
Emmanuel Kunt (1 month ago)
Hype+fearmongering=>profit+political influence
MrFatilo (1 month ago)
"Quantum computers will break all of the encryption currently used you and i from hackers.". Are you saying that the quantum-resistant algorithms that have been around for more than a decade, are not quantum-resistant? Does it break OTP? Which is widely used at both consumer and enterprise level. If so, how would this work?
MozartificeR (1 month ago)
I would not say that sub atomic particles were hidden from us!! Ge:2:2: And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
marveena (1 month ago)
oh, my brain.
- satori - (1 month ago)
Man.. quantum computers, artificial intelligence, killer robots, the state of politics, mental health and climate change. No way all of these existential threats will play out in peace.. at least we have cat videos to keep us distracted 😅
possesed7 (1 month ago)
never ever do that from Russia.. not because I'm against, no, I'm just standing a fact that Russian cosmos program is at it lowest. Corruption as it best, just look what Russia did at 2017-2019. Never ever fly to ISS from Russia until we have the same ruling party ( Edinaja Rossija) P.S. Yes I'm Russian my self self and yes I feel very much ashamed of everything happening now in RusCosmos
Sumo Life (1 month ago)
But, can it run Crysis on 100 fps?
Steve Padgett (1 month ago)
He says a quantum computer can find the two factors of large numbers. I don’t believe it unless he proves it, but he did not! He simply asserts it. If it was really true why are there no proofs anywhere. ?
Steven Rider (1 month ago)
This is interesting but since we have to "pick a universe" there's no real proof that a quantum computer can be real (in our universe). A good benchmark might be when Edward Snowden warns of quantum Computers (he hasn't). That said... let's use 500-D encryption!
jhjkhgjhfgjg jgjyfhdhbfjhg (1 month ago)
23 x37 = 851 , Enigma was broken by Marian Rejewski not by Turing.
IZ Ewert (1 month ago)
Step 1: build smart appliances, smart cities, smart electrical grids, smart cars, get rid of physical money. Declare victory. Step 2: make quantum computers give them to governments. Step 3: learn how to make a fire, learn how to grow food. Enjoy stone age, restart civilisation...again.
Dark Soul (1 month ago)
Junge trifft Mädchen (1 month ago)
you use another quantum computer to secure the data so its back to the chase ?
Faustin Gashakamba (1 month ago)
Actually, the physicists were at the way before the cryptographers... it's just that the latter were stuck in the traffic jam and arrived late (50 years later, to be exact)
Big Patman (1 month ago)
Nothing is going to get done until we get a hold on the fossil fuel industries and the military industrial complex they will use it for evil.🙏🏼✌️❤️
Kai Elvin (1 month ago)
Not so sure about the final words. Thanks for mentioning the Many Words interpretation. The one particle influencing another instantly at a far distance is plain wrong though (at least in the way "influencing" is commonly understood). Quantum physics (and Many Words in particular) say that both particle shared their state from the time of entanglement (before they were carried away from each other), so one particle cannot cause the other to be in one particular state.
Abbey Ayodeji (1 month ago)
So it's bringing gun to a stick fight.
Milton Monnin (1 month ago)
Doesn't Quantum Computers prove that "Quantum Entanglement" is far more than a theory ?
Qull (1 month ago)
Did Alan Turing technically decrypt the Enigma code? IIRC, he only smartly brute-force the solution with his machine, using something akin to guess and check.
Yian Lei (1 month ago)
Seriously, Shor's algorithm can never factor a real big number. The correct answer simply can not be close, such as, 100 magnitude away to a RSA 1024 number factor.
Daniel Galván Echeverrí (1 month ago)
Quantum computers pretty much replace almost all jobs
HashCracker (1 month ago)
Imo quantum computing is a bunch of bullshit. I don't think proving the existence of superposition will be as easy as these guys make it seem. But IDK what I'm talking about either
Mr. Zeitgeist (1 month ago)
So how much longer till we see Katy Perry's nude selfies?
Deepak Kumar (1 month ago)
Davis (1 month ago)
Quantum Computer VS Cryptocurrency = uh oh
Steve Gillham (1 month ago)
If a State has already created a quantum computer to break encryption is would be to used to:- 1) Gather intelligent on foreign and domestic affairs. 2) Manipulate the stock market to benefit a countries interest. It would be very slight manipulations as they wouldn't want to give the impression that they had a quantum computer. It's not going to be a country becoming very rich very quickly for no apparent reason.
I Know Better (1 month ago)
I love listening to white men
Sensimuse (1 month ago)
This talk hits pretty hard after the season finale of Silicon Valley.
Nawid N. (1 month ago)
Do you happen to know a download or streaming site for it?
sol8712 (1 month ago)
OMG the new season is out? woop woop!
Seeyay (1 month ago)
The solution to quantum computer power of decryption is also found in quantum physics; quantum entanglement.
JusticeSoulTuna (1 month ago)
Social media and divided community forums, artificial intelligence and the threat of weaponized automata, data security encryption at the mercy of quantum computers...How did this world of ours become Metal Gear? Something to keep an eye on...
Seeside Summerhouse (1 month ago)
Me: Woah *eats chip*
Xe NO (1 month ago)
1:26 so queen mary is encrypted/cryptography and queen elizabeth is acode breakers/quantum computer So quantum computer is the code breaker 🤔 hmm. Let me think twice. So literally ruining the encrypted code. How Insidious
Richard Bucker (1 month ago)
There are four very serious problems with this hypothesis. [1] the current machines appear to be models and not the actual machine and the machine is more like early 1960s computers that were bootstrapped with their task rather than modern time-sharing computers [2] writing quantum code is not trivial... if "we" had a computer with the horsepower to solve the problem x*y=some really big number then writing that code would be pretty simple by comparison [3] what is the actual cost per problem solved and how is that expressed over time (see #2); and [4] snake oil? how do you get from encryption to hunger? It's not like the same program used to decrypt KFC secret recipe can solve world hunger. Solving hunger would need a separate program. People may always have secrets but encryption can be rendered meaningless by society. PS: if this is a real thing then it should be a warning to crypto-currencies and their masters. You might make a profit now but the long term benefit may be catastrophic.
尝阿汤 (1 month ago)
atang is good boy
Alain Koch (1 month ago)
Quantum computers might be able to crack any code.... but they are limited to a network. You encoders are so busy writing codes, that you forget to think of simple things.... just write your message on a piece of paper and send it with a bird, But if you want something more fancy.. you mentioned the solution already. Quantum entanglement.. place the 2 particles at sender and receiver side and you have a way to communicate instantly over every distance without information passing trough some network between that could be intercepted.
Gerard MacMahon (1 month ago)
8:33 they could steal money from banks
PRASHANT SHARMA (1 month ago)
Build algorithms using quantum computing which are unbreakable
Tilitus (1 month ago)
All im thinking is "Damn my PC will handle all the games"
oompfh (1 month ago)
Bullshit Bingo. Not much content.
박민규 (1 month ago)
bogdan78pop (1 month ago)
Not Niels Bohr The quote, exact words, "If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics." is very very widely attributed to Feynman ..................Google just took a quantum leap in computer science. Using the company's state-of-the-art quantum computer, called Sycamore, Google has claimed "quantum supremacy" over the most powerful supercomputers in the world by solving a problem considered virtually impossible for normal machines. The quantum computer completed the complex computation in 200 seconds. That same calculation would take even the most powerful supercomputers approximately 10,000 years to finish, the team of researchers, led by John Martinis, an experimental physicist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, wrote in their study published Wednesday (Oct. 23) in the journal Nature.
GLOBAL IT SOURCES (1 month ago)
But with this incredible potential comes an incredible risk! ~ cargio parker
Johannes Snutt (1 month ago)
Just wrote a comment about how governments might already have this. Got a message about how i need to be logged in to comment even if i was.. Illuminati 100% confirmed.
Nixon Rexzile (1 month ago)
OMG SO FAKE! This is one way to tell uneducated citizen to stay away from cryptocurrency, but what they don't know is people are fed up with fiat currency,
Dr. Zoidberg (1 month ago)
Nobody cares about cryptocurrency.
mario navarro (1 month ago)
Can someone recommend me, a commoner, some book or web page to start and study quantum physics. It doesn't matter if i have to restudy clasic physics. I want to know this
Michael LaPorte (1 month ago)
I may be completely wrong but just spitballin, you said a quantum computer solves problems in a different state or as u put it a different dimension. You can only create something difficult enough by creating a problem or scenario of something that does not exist in that dimension. But the only way to figure out such a problem is to figure out what exists in the first place inside that realm.
Brian B (1 month ago)
High Key this is boring
socomcygnusx1 (1 month ago)
Quantum computers? lmfao. They can't even build one yet, that has any use. Some day maybe. But lmao.
Sky Lee (30 days ago)
Well the scary part is that it doesnt have to do alot. It just needs to do some simple calculations really fast, and you can have all the money im the world.
Wyse Ebbah (1 month ago)
i did my research paper on this
Farouk Umar (1 month ago)
brilliant talk!
Hary Irfantri (1 month ago)
Imagine we store our super secret data in a super hi-tech quantum computer, but then someone does some psychological tricks and make us give up those data without any hesitation.
Dr. Zoidberg (1 month ago)
That's how a lot of hacking is done nowadays anyway. The human is usually the weakest point of any security system.
재상 (1 month ago)
It was fun!
Eric Kroeger (1 month ago)
I kinda had a fun thought. What if both lock and key were both changing via time but also synchronous. If you had data (e.g. a password) constantly changing I'd imagine a quantum computer would have a difficult time breaking the code. And hence the the synchronized key would be the only means of opening it.
tdreamgmail (1 month ago)
He didn't mention deepfakes
you tou (1 month ago)
"quantum computers are going to fix climate change" no they won't
Ramses Abreu (1 month ago)
@Marcelo Pinheiro And rightly so. It's a powerful tool I rather us control than AI. Let's hope whoever gets a hold of it doesn't have nefarious intentions...
Marcelo Pinheiro (1 month ago)
A new computer does not fix human behaviour, it amplifies it. Whatever you are doing you might do it more efficiently. Be it protecting enviroment or proffing from its exploitation.
Ramses Abreu (1 month ago)
@TMCG69 NEO From what you've gathered and what you've discussed, what do you think will be the positive ramifications of quantum computing in regards to climate change. Personally, I feel I can an impact with thermonuclear energy.
TMCG69 NEO (1 month ago)
What's your background? im a third year masters student in physics and have had indepth discussions with theoretical quantum physicists about this matter and it seems like a very promising solution. I'm interested to see your side
gone fishin' (1 month ago)
Quick, alert the president and let him know that quantum computers are being built in labs around the world and it's only a matter of time before.....??????? My brain just realized that it is a quantum computer. Don't tell anybody.
exe GODMODE (1 month ago)
Man this was a really interesting talk but the presentation was soo weak. The outro was awkward as fruit.
Nouha VloGs (1 month ago)
Nupur Nishant (1 month ago)
Dude's accent sounds really nice. Which accent is it?
MrAjiii (1 month ago)
Almost all security issues arise from the user; this is the problem!
Nochal Nosowski (1 month ago)
Alan Turing didnt break Enigma
Vorturo (1 month ago)
He didn't answer the most interesting question: Is it theoretecly possible to live through quantom computers after death?
TMCG69 NEO (1 month ago)
An extremely interesting concept, it all relies on the ability to map the human brain. Fundamentally if the human brain uses quantum mechanics to operate (which it may well do, it could explain conscience and uncertainty) then it would be fully plausible to do so
Justin Lodge (1 month ago)
AWS just launched their Quantum Computing lab service ... you’re already too late
Tshepo Masiea (1 month ago)
To this is probably stupid question, but how about quantum cryptography by quantum computers?