Rene: Hi welcome to QuBites, your bite-sized pieces of quantum computing. My name is Rene from Valorem Reply and today we're going to talk about quantum computing for security and also the ethical implications of all of that. And for this I'm very honored to have a special expert guest today, Rebecca Krauthamer. Hi Rebecca, welcome to the show! How are you today?
Rebecca: Hi Rene! I'm great. Thanks so much for having me.
Rene: Thanks so much for being with us. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background as relates to quantum computing and AI and all the related things?
Rebecca: Absolutely, yes. So, I was fortunate enough to be able to study AI at Stanford. And my journey kind of continued from there. I ended up in quantum computing a few years ago and really dove into the security use case after sort of playing around in the sand box that is quantum. And now here we are.
Rene: Awesome. I mean there's always a big overlap between AI and quantum computing I mean just dealing with linear algebra and all of that you know base math principles and by the way for me being a computer graphics guy that's my background basically 3D computer graphics and all of that is also linear algebra right, so it's like all the good stuff. It’s all about vectors and matrices folks.
Rebecca: That’s it yep!
Rene: Alright let's dive into today's topics. First of all, congrats for being part of the Forbes 30 under 30 list which you were listed, which is really impressive on its own. But I know you also funded a few startups in the quantum computing field like Quantum Thought and a few more. Can you tell us a little bit about your impressive journey and what you're working on with your Startups?
Rebecca: Yeah, Thanks so much. Sure, well it's been a really interesting journey and so yeah as I said I got in from the AI side. Really my Co-founders and I started Quantum Thought about three years ago and the idea was that since quantum’s so early, we would find and start a number of different companies in the quantum application space and the thing that became really clear early on was that there are a number of years before we get to fault tolerant quantum computing and we're heading there very fast which is exciting. But the use case that is an imperative now is on the cybersecurity side and the reason for that is… we know a few things about quantum computers and one of them is that we have Shor’s algorithm which is, as your listeners probably know, going to mess with public key cryptography and so the use case that we're working on now is QSecure and that's enterprise and government cyber security software and that protects against things like quantum hacks as well as current hacks and the thing that a lot of people don't think about is that there the threat is very real now because if data is encrypted in a traditional way and it's taken now if it has a shelf life that can then be decrypted right when that Quantum computer rolls around.
Rene: Yeah, that's what folks don’t realize right? Like everything is stored, so what’s going to happen there, right? Definitely interesting. So, let's talk a little bit more about quantum security and like you said like a few of our listeners or viewers or the audience in general they know a little bit about quantum security. We had a few episodes about it with couple of different guests and so we talked about the threat it is for cryptography like you mentioned or I just recently saw some called the Q-Day right the day once quantum computers will be powerful enough to crack RSA 2048 and things like that. But anyhow so you have this threat, but there are also opportunities, right? And so, what is your opinion on those and can you share some examples and advice for business leaders like what is the threat we just talked about and also what do you think could be the opportunities that can be tackled and do you have some advice to share?
Rebecca: Sure yeah! They're calling it Q- Day, they're calling it Y2Q, the parallel to Y2K. So really yeah, there are a couple of things to consider if you are a business leader or you're thinking about your own data, right? This sort of RSA 2048 will be cracked about when there's 4000 coherent fault-tolerant error-corrected Qubits. So that day you know experts say that's anywhere between 5 and 20 years off and again if you have data that is sensitive in any way that needs to live on for longer than five years, then it needs to be protected in a post quantum way and that's possible now. So that's what we work on, right. You can use things like post quantum cryptography, which are new mathematical algorithms that are resistant to these types of quantum attacks and then we also throw up a good number of different quantum technologies in there, so one is quantum random number generation which is very interesting and also using different protocols. So, I think that the opportunity here is that we can make security a lot stronger and cyber security in general has come on to the radar in a big way in the last couple of years as hacks are you know kind of continuously coming. So, the opportunity here is, what we try to do is, we make it not hard to implement over existing systems to protect in a stronger way from now attacks and future attacks.
Rene: And basically, also applying like a good cybersecurity agility right, that if you're not then you quickly switch out, like your encryption or like your certification pieces and don't have it like spread on this old free 8060 computer it's running our Internet connection kind of thing, right, like I know I'm showing my age, but what I mean is, some companies sometimes have this old infrastructure but sometimes also very naturally grown of course and very heterogenous right and that's a big challenge of course. Basically, get ahead before it's too late yeah? But also important like you said, is of course security in general and cyber security in general and when we think about AI from an ethical and responsible standpoint, because you want to secure your AI models. Otherwise, they could, for example, be hacked and then someone could, I don't know, retrain with transfer learning or whatever right and introduce bias and then you run your model, you know, inference and what-not and then you might wonder, hey what's going on here? but you might only wonder after, I don't know, months or years after it happened because you don't know, because you have the black box right? Anyhow my question for you was actually especially around the topic of responsible AI and digital ethics in general, which is a topic near and dear to my heart. What is your perspective on AI ethics and also how does it apply to quantum computing right? So, let's get ahead of it basically.
Rebecca: Absolutely yeah! Definitely near and dear to my heart. I know Rene, when we first talked, we nerded out a lot on this and this is such an important topic right and this is kind of why I got into this field in the first place. You know, first I got into AI because we interact with technology every day and it's just going to be more and more important in our lives and so how do we ensure that it’s going to be good for humanity and that what we're doing is what we're building towards is positive and so with quantum computing we have this opportunity. When I first got into quantum computing a couple of years ago, Jack Hidary from Alphabet X, he had his team count number of people in quantum computing and it was 800 people. And it's grown from there but it's still very small and we have the potential to be able to shape it in a in a good direction. We kind of missed the boat with AI we can still do a lot but it's this frontier technology where we can do a lot right now and I think you know for one data privacy and data security is hugely important. So, being able to protect our data and organizations protecting our data is huge and then on the AI side that's very much inter related right? If you get access to data, and it's not just the security piece of it which is very important, but it's also the idea that quantum computing will enable us to do things that we couldn't in the past. So, things like de-identify. Typically, now when it comes to data privacy, we do things like de-identify and anonymize data but there's potential for quantum computer to be able to more intelligently work with these big data-sets and kind of put the puzzle pieces back together, you know, as if we put the data through the shredder, quantum computer may be able to, in a more intelligent way, put it back together. So, we have to think about things like that. We have to think about things like you were saying, getting access to models, and being able to manipulate them and in new ways and it's all very interesting and there's a lot of opportunity here.
Rene: Yeah, and like you were saying, with great power comes great responsibility, like they're saying, and and even more applies to quantum computing. Like you say, right, I mean, it’s a great example, you can de-identify or re-identify or like you said, putting the shredded pieces together basically. You have the power to run these, which are typically non-linear or exponential problems to solve right, if you want to put these pieces together but hey you gotta get a computer that is perfect at solving non-linear problems in linear time, so think about it!
Rebecca: If you think of genomics right, you know one of the things that makes it really hard for us to understand genomes in a really nuanced way is that it's just such big data, right? Again, what you're talking about the power of quantum may very well unlock our ability to really understand genetic data and so securing that, making it ethical, that's huge too.
Rene: That’s huge. And it's also not just huge for, like you know, for the sake of doing the right thing, like for the sake of humanity but it's also important for your business because, like, if certain things are not done in a responsible way, you will immediately get out called on social media, for example, right? There were a bunch of examples that happened, for example, with a big social media platform that had an automatic photo cropping algorithm right and that was preferring the words totally biased and it was a big outcry for reason of course, right? So well, you want to prevent that basically and that's why digital ethics and responsible AI but responsible, you know, computing in general, is very important for the business.
Rebecca: Hugely important. Yeah, it's not just quantum computing but it's you know quantum computing sort of represents this continuation of, we’re advancing in computing and technology and you've got to keep up and you have to stay ahead in order to, not face that. And it's hugely important for business leaders and organization leaders to start thinking about this, so that they can be ahead because you're right, we live in a new era. And side note, I have the opportunity to work with the World Economic Forum to put out governance principles sort of suggesting how organizations can go about addressing governance in a quantum world. And that very much deals with ethics, so keep an eye out for that if you are a business leader and those will be some good guidelines about how to, sort of, address and approach this is coming quantum era.
Rene: Awesome! Well, looking much forward to that and it's great that you are already part of that expert group that is thinking ahead of it and thinking already about the implications as well happen. Well, we could talk for many more hours, we are already at the end of our short show. Thank you so much Rebecca for joining us today and sharing your insights and your journey. Very much appreciated.
Rebecca: Rene, it's been a pleasure. Thank you so much
Rene: Well and thanks everyone for joining us today for yet another episode of QuBites, your bite size pieces of quantum computing. Watch our blog, follow our social media channels and all of that to hear all about the next episodes that are coming out. Take care and see you soon! Bye Bye.