Researchers from Toshiba have successfully sent quantum information over 600-kilometer-long optical fibers, creating a new distance record and paving the way for large-scale quantum networks that could be used to exchange information securely between cities and even countries. Working from the company’s R&D lab in Cambridge in the UK, the scientists demonstrated that they could transmit quantum bits (or qubits) over hundreds of kilometers of optical fiber without scrambling the fragile quantum data encoded in the particles, thanks to a new technology that stabilizes the environmental fluctuations occurring in the fiber.
<p>This is great news. Always glad to hear and read about quantum advances. This one is particularly great because, previously, the record for \"bounded\" qubit network media transmission was 100km/62 miles. So, this is great to hear, and I hope this is just the beginning of many longer distance records. Kudos to Toshiba!</p> <p> </p> <p>But keep in mind that network compromise is rarely the way that things are compromised today in the real world. Ransomware isn\’t the huge problem it is today because they are breaking insecure network links. I haven\’t heard a single person complain to me in decades that if only they had more secure network transmission, then the way they were exploited would not have happened. Network-layer interception exploits do happen…but it\’s very rare. So, this whole idea that if we get to a quantum network or quantum Internet and the whole world will celebrate that accomplishment, and hackers and malware will just be defeated, is more than a bit fanciful. I don\’t want to demean the accomplishment. It\’s HUGE! But even when it becomes the great reality that all us quantum nerds want, it\’s not like hackers and malware will go away. They just won\’t.</p> <p> </p> <p>At the very extreme edges of attacks…nation-state against nation-state, where the players are possibly likely to engage in network interception, a quantum network really helps. But even then, quantum networks are \"theoretically\" impossible to attack. There\’s a lot of room between the theoretical world and how things are implemented in the real world. Leave it up to humans to take a theoretically unbreakable technology and mess up the implementation so that it\’s hackable. Will that happen? Absolutely. It\’s the only way it has ever happened and just because the latest unbreakable technology has the word quantum in front of it doesn\’t change that the involved humans have always been and will continue to be the weakest link in the chain.</p>