(Nature) The venerable Nature interviews Peter Shor here and discusses his influence on quantum computing and asks Shor to discuss/predict the effects of ‘post-quantum encryption”.
Peter Shor shocked the physics and computer-science worlds when he found the first potentially useful — but ominous — way to use a hypothetical quantum computer. He’d written an algorithm that would allow a quantum computer to factor integer numbers into prime factors at lightning speed. Before Shor’s factoring algorithm, quantum computers were mostly a theoretical curiosity.
Peter’s Shor’s 1995 paper showed how quantum computers could overcome a crucial problem. The machines would process information as qubits — quantum versions of ordinary bits that can simultaneously be ‘0’ and ‘1’. But quantum states are notoriously vulnerable to noise, leading to loss of information. His error-correction technique — which detects errors caused by noise — showed how to make quantum information more robust.
Shor believes the first people who break RSA either are going to be NSA [the US National Security Agency] or some other big organization. He says, “The NSA has much more important things to use their quantum computer on than reading your e-mail — they’ll be reading the Chinese ambassador’s e-mail.”
Shor believesthe only obstruction to replacing RSA with a secure post-quantum cryptosystem will be will-power and programming time. “I think it’s something we know how to do; it’s just not clear that we’ll do it in time.”
Shor believes the only obstruction to replacing RSA with a secure post-quantum cryptosystem will be will-power and programming time. “I think it’s something we know how to do; it’s just not clear that we’ll do it in time.”