Quantum Bayesian Networks

January 30, 2014

Our Expanding Fan Base

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrtucci @ 4:00 pm

We are proud to announce that this blog has received a ringing endorsement from the eminent, platinum frequent flyer, MIT Professor Scott Aaronson in his blog Shtetl Optimized:

Check out comment #180 here. Quote:

And Michael #179, I became better able to appreciate what humor there occasionally is in rrtucci’s snarks once I stopped looking for intellectual coherence in them!

Wow, we’ve heard before Scott laying on thick the accolades on Sean Carroll, Max Tegmark and Christopher Fuchs (“I read the samizdat as a beginning graduate student, and it changed my career.”) , but nothing like this. Those people must now be mighty envious because Scott didn’t go the extra mile to praise them as he has done for Quantum Bayesian Networks, the first quantumly, bayesianly incoherent blog, the diary of a potted plant (with an IQ to match that of a potted plant).

January 13, 2014

How General Keith Alexander Almost Killed the Internet

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrtucci @ 4:55 pm

I believe that all research into quantum computer devices or algorithms should be unclassified, period. My understanding is that DARPA funded as an unclassified project most of the research that led to the development of the Internet, and that strategy seems to have worked admirably well. The NSA, led by US Army General Keith Alexander, has been trying to make secret some QC research ever since Peter Shor came out with his algorithm in 1995.

I thank Henning Dekant (Quax) for pointing out to me in Scott Aaronson’s blog the following priceless article that sounds like it came from TheOnion.com or the movie Dr. Strangelove, except that it’s all totally true. At the same time that little Keith builds his bridge, millions of Americans who work full time or more don’t earn a living wage.


NSA Chief Built “Starship Enterprise Bridge”, Sat in Captain’s Chair
, by Jason Mick (Blog) – Sep 17, 2013. Slashdot news item based on original report by Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian

General Keith Alexander is largely responsible for the NSA’s Trailblazer program which was canceled after billions of dollars of fraud and abuse.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trailblazer_Project

The title of this blog post comes from the following article (very good but somewhat incomplete: why doesn’t it emphasize fraud and corruption more, no mention of Trailblazer or the Startrek bridge?)

How the NSA Almost Killed the Internet, by Steven Levy (Wired, Jan 7, 2014)

To delve more into the connection of the NSA to quantum computers, you might read my 3 previous blog posts:

January 10, 2014

China’s Sputnik Moment in the Quantum Space Race?

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrtucci @ 5:49 pm

Cat’s don’t like it when you tease them by tickling their tail; they are bound to claw you back. The same happens if you tickle a dragon’s tail. Check out this news story: This dragon is definitely fuming from its nostrils

China in race to build first code-breaking quantum supercomputer“, by Stephen Chen (South China Morning Post, 10 Jan 10, 2014)

Excerpts:

It is said that the success of British encryption experts in cracking the Nazis’ “unbreakable” Enigma cipher machine probably contributed more to the Allies’ eventual victory than the more famous Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb.

Today China, the US and other major powers are racing to develop another game-changer in intelligence encryption – the first quantum supercomputer, which would become the ultimate code-breaker.

Professor Wang Haohua, a physicist at Zhejiang University, who is trying to build a quantum computer with superconducting materials, said the central government was so eager – even desperate – to have one that scientists had been told to ignore non-technical constraints such as cost and size.

Sputnik was interpreted by the US as some sort of wake-up call, a watershed moment. Like the Sputnik satellite (beep, beep, beep…), NSA’s Kane quantum computer doesn’t do much (just 2 qubits). Will future historians consider the Washington Post article about NSA’s Kane quantum computer a Sputnik event for China? Crazy sh*t like that happens all the time in human history.

I advise the NSA to retaliate by asking Google to censor out key scientific publications from the Chinese internet. I’m sure the NSA and Google can do that. The Chinese censors won’t notice:

Beijing censor: “That must be the work of our venerable Shanghai censors”

Shanghai censor: “That must be the work of our venerable Guangzhou censors”

The US should also impose on China some trade sanctions of the type it has imposed on Iran to prevent them from building a nuke. In the case of China, we would be preventing them from building “the Hydrogen bomb of cyberspace”. The trade sanctions could be to double US shipments of coal to China, specially the nasty, sulfurous kind. We don’t need to poison Chinese scientists. Let China poison them for us, with pollution.

Coal is China’s new opium, but the old opium would work too. That’s why the US is pulling its troops out of Afghanistan. So that China gets back a steady, dependable supply of opium.

I can think of so many sneaky ways to get back at China. But I’m just preaching to the choir by pretending to advise the NSA and its Chinese counterpart (I wonder what they are called, the Lucky Golden Secret Rabbit Agency?) on being sneaky.

January 9, 2014

The NSA’s top secret Kane Quantum Computer

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrtucci @ 4:40 pm

Check out the following article which has generated much buzz on the Internet

“NSA seeks to build quantum computer that could crack most types of encryption”, by Steven Rich and Barton Gellman (Washington Post, Jan 2, 2014)

Excerpts:

“The geographic scope has narrowed from a global effort to a discrete focus on the European Union and Switzerland,” one NSA document states.

By the end of September [2013], the NSA expected to be able to have some building blocks, which it described in a document as “dynamical decoupling and complete quantum ­control on two semiconductor qubits.”

I had heard that Booz Allen Hamilton (Edward Snowden’s former employer) had posted some advertisements offering jobs in quantum computing. I had also heard that the head of the NSA, General Keith Alexander, has, for the past 5 years, been bragging at public symposia about his agency’s growing prowess in quantum computing and predicting that once QC’s arrive, it will be a “game changer” (his words) for his agency. I knew that the U. of Maryland was doing some kind of classified work in quantum computing for the NSA. But I have to admit that the extent and depth of NSA’s classified work is bigger than I thought. I had thought that NSA’s secret work was just meant to follow the front-runners from behind. But now it appears that they are trying to be one of the front-runners themselves, at least for some types of quantum computer design. It even appears that the NSA has decided to classify TOP SECRET most of its work on the very promising Kane quantum computer. If that is true, it really sucks.

Let me give some background. Enter Bruce Kane (not to be confused with Bruce Wayne, Batman’s alter ego). I have no inside information about the guy. All I know is what I’ve read on the Internet: that he started off brilliantly in quantum computing, by postulating the Kane quantum computer. After working in Australia for a while, he accepted a position at the U. of Maryland, where he still works. I always wondered how come, after such a brilliant start, we haven’t heard much about his work at the U. of Maryland. (His arXiv record as “B.E.Kane” shows 20 papers in the last 17 years, nothing about “dynamical decoupling and complete quantum ­control on two semiconductor qubits.” ) And now I learn from the Snowden revelations that the NSA has a TOP SECRET project at the U. of Maryland that is building a QC that sounds very similar to the Kane computer.

It is widely known that the NSA has been throwing money at quantum computing ever since Peter Shor came up in 1995 with his algorithm for breaking most public encryption codes. The NSA even funded at the U. of Maryland (College Park campus), two institutes (one for unclassified work, one for classified work), which I’m sure has cost them a bundle, probably well in excess of 100 million dollars by now. Their institute for unclassified work is called the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI, pronounced Yucky?)
http://jqi.umd.edu/
Their institute for classified work is called the Laboratory for Physical Sciences (LPS, pronounced Lupus?)
http://www.lps.umd.edu/

The Lupus website makes it fairly clear that Bruce Kane is one of the top honchos there, which explains why they are partial towards the Kane QC design. According to the Lupus website, and I quote,

LPS has housed an internal research program in quantum computing (QC) for several years, and it currently includes seven research groups. Four of the research groups experimentally investigate various solid-state systems at low temperatures, and are connected to either semiconductor-based or superconductor-based quantum computing. These groups are led by Bruce Kane, Kevin Osborn, Ben Palmer, and Michael Dreyer.
The remaining three research groups theoretically investigate a broad range of topics which include: solid-state quantum-computing systems, ground-state quantum computation, and quantum control. These groups are led by Frank Gaitan, Ari Mizel, and Charles Tahan. Further details on QC research at LPS can be found by visiting the links shown above.

Further thoughts about the Washington Post article:

It’s interesting that the Lupus people think their main rivals are the “European Union and Switzerland”. Ouch! No mention is made of Waterloo, Canada, or the Aussies. Dismissing Waterloo, Canada can be explained since those guys are still hard at work on NMR quantum computers and quantum crypto BS. As for dismissing the Aussies, who have made significant advances in building the Kane quantum computer, that might be explained if the Lupus people view the Aussies as just their faithful minions. That might mean that anything the Aussies have done so far vis-a-vis the Kane computer, the Lupus people have already done twice as well. After all, I doubt the US would passively take second seat to their wimpy Aussie allies/lackeys 🙂

It’s lamentable that due to all the secrecy, we can’t tell for sure how advanced the Kane QC model is. I’ve written some previous blog posts lamenting the fact that Intel seems to be totally uninterested in quantum computers, despite the fact that Moore’s Law is coming to an end (2014: 14 nanometer semiconductor nodes, 2019: 5 nm). The Kane QC, based on semiconductor qubits, would be a perfect fit for Intel, but due to all the infantile secrecy, Intel is blissfully ignorant of Lupus’s advances…or are they? It’s possible that Intel is secretly doing joint work with Lupus, although I have no evidence for that wild conjecture.

January 6, 2014

Quantum Cryptography Succumbs to an ANT

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrtucci @ 11:50 pm

Check out

NSA’s ANT Division Catalog of Exploits for Nearly Every Major Software/Hardware/Firmware
At the blog http://leaksource.wordpress.com

Great article, full of leaked documents (not conspiracy theories). Random excerpt:

These NSA agents, who specialize in secret back doors, are able to keep an eye on all levels of our digital lives — from computing centers to individual computers, from laptops to mobile phones. For nearly every lock, ANT seems to have a key in its toolbox. And no matter what walls companies erect, the NSA’s specialists seem already to have gotten past them.

This, at least, is the impression gained from flipping through the 50-page document. The list reads like a mail-order catalog, one from which other NSA employees can order technologies from the ANT division for tapping their targets’ data. The catalog even lists the prices for these electronic break-in tools, with costs ranging from free to $250,000.

I’m not going to try to address in this blog post all the ramifications of these NSA revelations. All I want to do now is to discuss the implications of these revelations for quantum cryptography, which is often sold in the same package as quantum computers, but shouldn’t be. They are quite different. One has huge potential, and the other one is a bust, in my opinion.

As I’ve often said in this blog, quantum crypto is “pointless”. (I’m no crypto expert, but crypto expert Bruce Schneier has written a blog post expressing the same opinion).

Quantum crypto is like a Dutch boy using one of his fingers to plug a small hole in the dike, while at the same time a million gallons/sec of water are pouring over the dike.

Quantum crypto is probably a joke to the NSA. Those guys don’t care about the etiquette of mathematical proofs. They snicker at the premises of a mathematical theorem claiming that a quantum crypto protocol is impossible to break. What they believe in is the old adage that “All is fair in love and war”.

The reasons I believe that quantum crypto is pointless are very simple. Quantum crypto can only protect data that is being transmitted from point A to point B. It cannot protect stored data (like the data stored in your computer hard drive). Indeed, who would want to store their precious data in the form of a super-fragile quantum state? Since it can’t protect stored data, quantum crypto would provide almost zero protection against NSA’s shenanigans.

Before QC’s arrive, we can protect stored data using classical crypto protocols already in use. After QC’s arrive, the only way to protect stored data will be using post-quantum crypto (i.e., non-quantum crypto that cannot be broken with a QC). Anyway you slice the pie, we will need post-quantum crypto once we have QC’s. So, once we have QC’s, just use post-quantum crypto to protect all data, stored and transmitted. Thus, there will never be, pre or post QC, any need for quantum crypto.

  • Commercial companies that started selling quantum crypto 10-15 years ago, but were forced to diversify or die because the market for quantum crypto is non-existent: ID Quantique, Magiq

  • Academic institutions that have spent millions of dollars on quantum crypto: IQC (Institute for Quantum Computing, at Waterloo, Canada. Funded about half and half by Blackberry cofounder Mike Lazaridis and Canadian taxpayers)

  • American defense companies that have received millions of dollars in defense contracts to build large quantum crypto networks (the proverbial bridge to nowhere): the BBN branch of Raytheon.

  • US Defense Laboratories (that we know of) that have spent millions of dollars building a quantum crypto network: LANL (Los Alamos National Lab) (see “Los Alamos reveals it’s been running quantum network for two and a half years” May 07, 2013). It would be surprising if MIT Lincoln Lab wasn’t involved in something like this too, since they do a lot of quantum optics and communications work, plus they are located in the same city (Boston) as BBN Raytheon, plus they often collaborate with Raytheon.

China also has a hefty quantum crypto program.

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