This episode was recorded back in 2019 but then the holiday episode had to go out during holidays and cut in line, messing up the cogs of the well-oiled machine that is the RFHPC production process. Regardless, the episode starts out with Henry being cranky. It also ends with Henry being cranky. But between those two events, we discuss quantum computing and Shahin’s trip to the Q2B quantum computing conference in San Jose. His walkaway, as someone else put it, and he quotes: “Quantum computing is overhyped and underestimated.”
Not surprisingly, there is a lot of activity in quantum, with nearly every country pushing the envelop outward. One of the big concerns is that existing cryptography is now vulnerable to quantum cracking. Shahin assures us that this isn’t the case today and is probably a decade away, which is another way of saying nobody knows, so it could be next week, but probably not.
We also learn the term “NISQ” which is a descriptive acronym for the current state of quantum systems. NISQ stands for “Noisy Intermediate Scale Quantum” computing. The conversation touches on various ways quantum computing is used now and where it’s heading, plus the main reason why everyone seems to be kicking the tires on quantum: the fear of missing out.
It’s a very exciting area, but to Shahin, it seems like how AI was maybe 8-10 years ago, so still early days.
Why Nobody Should Ever be Online. Ever.
Henry lays out a dizzying scenario where hackers contact a person, telling them that their credit card is about to be used by an unauthorized party and advising them to call the police. When the person calls the police, the hackers intercept the call and, while pretending to be the authorities, extract personal details, credit card numbers, etc. This is possible because the hackers have taken over the telephone switch. Ouch, scary stuff.
But to finish out the year on a high note, Henry touches on reasons why people should be online, which was, well, nice.
Things You Think You Know, But Maybe Don’t.
In keeping with the theme of the show, Jessi asks for a quickie intro into quantum computing, why it’s such a big deal, and how it will really be used. Shahin obliges with a discussion of a vast array of quantum stuff, even including a reference to Schrodinger’s half-dead cat. He also discusses how quantum can provide exponential speed ups over traditional computing and the promise of quantum in the future.
Catch of the Week
Dan has managed to catch the team catching their catch:
Henry’s net was empty this time.
Jessi: Brings up how Emotet malware hackers are using high-school environmental activist Greta Thunberg as a lure to infect users with Emotet and other malicious software. The hook is in the form of an attachment, “Support Greta Thunberg.doc”, which, when opened, will launch a malicious macro that downloads the Emotet Trojan and executes it. Nasty stuff. https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/emotet-malware-uses-greta-thunberg-demonstration-invites-as-lure/
Shahin: Never one to leave well enough alone, Shahin brings up quantum computing yet again by discussing a quantum comic strip (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal) that does a great job of explaining quantum concepts in cartoon form. What’s next? Using sock puppets to explain HPC? http://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/the-talk-3
Dan: In the interests of time, Dan skips over his lame Catch of the Week.