A recent MIT technology review has sought to downplay the near-term significance of quantum computing for Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies. In a piece published on March 28, 2022, the renowned American theoretical physicist, Sankar Das Sarma, stated that there was too much hype surrounding the imminence of quantum computing.
Quantum Computer and Bitcoin
In the last few years, scientists and industry analysts alike have postulated the possible ramifications of quantum computing on blockchain technology in general, and cryptocurrencies in particular. Often, the verdict has been near-unanimous: quantum computing will have the capacity to easily crack the cryptographic keys securing cryptos such as Bitcoin.
The cryptographic primitives that secure Bitcoin are built on supposedly unsolvable mathematical problems. But it is expected that quantum computers will have the computational power to solve those problems and consequently render useless consensus algorithms such as proof-of-work or proof-of-stake.
Additionally, experts have also suggested that bad faith actors could use quantum computers to mine more Bitcoin than what classical computers are currently capable of.
Hypothetically, if a group of miners was to control at least 50% of the Bitcoin network’s computational power using quantum computers, they could use that majority control for any nefarious activity of their choosing.
Quantum Computing Is Not Yet Advanced Enough To Pose A Threat To Bitcoin
However, Sankar suggests that, as it currently is, the concept of quantum computing is more hype than substance. According to the University of Maryland Professor, there is still a long way to go before quantum technology researchers can produce a unit powerful enough to break the cryptography securing digital assets such as Bitcoin.
Apparently, the main issue hindering progress in quantum computing is the small matter of quantum error correction.
Quantum error correction is the process by which quantum computers can compensate for decoherence, and it has proven to be a hard nut to crack.
In his Technology Review piece, Sarma stated that:
“The most advanced quantum computers today have dozens of decohering physical qubits. Building a quantum computer that could crack RSA codes out of such components would require many millions if not billions of qubits. Only tens of thousands of these would be used for computation—so-called logical qubits; the rest would be needed for error correction, compensating for decoherence.”
While the qubit systems in use today are a significant technological milestone, Sarma believes that they still do not bring viable quantum computing any closer to realization.
Bitcoin Mining Difficulty Reaches All-Time High
Elsewhere, Bitcoin’s mining difficulty just jumped to an all-time high of 28.587 trillion. The increase in difficulty came soon after miners released the 19th million BTC unit into circulation.
With a maximum supply of 21 million BTC, there are now only 2 million coins left to be mined. This means that the remaining BTC blocks will progressively require greater computational power to mine as they become more scarce.
Meanwhile, Bitcoin’s price continues to push above $45k as it rides the wave of improved market sentiment.
At the time of writing, Bitcoin was priced at $46,599. This was a 3.24% increase from previous levels from the last 24 hours. In the same time period, BTC registered a trading volume of $34,127,586,241, and had a market cap of nearly $886 billion, making it the biggest and most valuable cryptocurrency by far.
Observers will continue to keep an eye on the developing situation in Ukraine to see how it may affect the cryptocurrency market, but news of Bitcoin’s assured security, at least in the near-term, should assuage investors’ fears caused by the over-sensationalization of the imminent effect of quantum computing on crypto.