CES Panel: Building the Quantum Internet with 6G, Intention

Axios chief technology correspondent Ina Fried asked why we’re talking about 6G when 5G is just beginning to make an appearance. “Before we get into what comes after 5G, how ready are we to connect billions of devices?” she asked. She got a quick answer from Public Knowledge cybersecurity policy director Megan Stifel. “We’re getting there, but we’re not there yet,” she said. “At least we’re beginning to see companies think about ‘secure to market,’ but there is no core baseline required. This keeps me up at night.”

“There’s no way for consumers to know how secure a device is by looking at it,” added Fried. “How realistic is it that consumers will be able, interested and willing to educate themselves?” Quantum computing, said Boingo Wireless CTO Derek Peterson (below right), replaces 1s and 0s with “both states happening at the same time,” while leveraging different physical phenomena. The benefit is, in principle, the ability to accurately and securely handle a great deal more data. A real use case, he added, would be communication between Mars and Earth.

Cisco CTO, service provider networking Michael Beesley (above left, with Stifel and Peterson) explained that we’re coming to the end of the current technologies. “There are laws of physics we’re running up against,” he said. “From a silicon and compute point of view, we’ve done an amazing job of advancing Moore’s law. But we can’t make the silicon smaller, and the exponential rise of computing we’ve enjoyed with the current technology will hit a limit. By having a new technology stack, we can reset the technological framework for vastly increased computing in data centers and mobile computing as well.”

Focusing on 6G now gives technologists and activists a chance to reinvent some of the public policy and security issues that we struggle with today. The need to do this is crucial, since the technology will enable billions of devices. Although, the Qbit [the basic unit of quantum computing] can tell the end user if it’s been altered, potentially removing some questions of security and privacy, it doesn’t mean that the original sender had a benign intent.

“Does this mean I’m just getting my deepfake videos faster?” asked Stifel.

“Today, the network doesn’t necessarily know the intent of a transmission, whether it’s benign or malign,” agreed Beesley. “Having computing power and bandwidth of 6G and Quantum, allows fully intentional communication.” Still, stressed Peterson, “we need to spend more time understanding Quantum.” “We need the government to get involved so we don’t jump in the way we did with 1G,” he said. “We need to start hitting that now to build it the right way.”

Beesley agreed. “We can work on the standards and frameworks, with the confidence we’ll have technical resources to create it, so when it matures we’ll have these issues well in hand,” he said. Both Peterson and Beesley stressed that, because Quantum computing is a global technology, the effort to bring it into being is now and will continue to be global. “Let’s not go back to tribalism,” warned Beesley.

Stifel added that, “there are no protocols yet for the Quantum Internet.”  “With the current Internet, trust was assumed,” she said. “Now we know we have to build it in.”

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