Bitcoin Mining in the Age of Quantum Computing
Bitcoin mining has already become an expensive and complicated affair. As the difficulty rates have adjusted, the machines required in order to mine the new Bitcoin have had to advanced beyond mere GPUs on home PCs to ASICs developed by large conglomerates.
This all begs a really important question, what could advances in computing power do to the Bitcoin mining industry? More particularly, how could the advent of Quantum computers change the landscape?
In a post by the author Riz Virk, he tries to answer this question in the most comprehensive way possible. He also approaches it in light hearted jest by pretending that he had already purchased a Quantum computer. Riz took us through his attempts to mine Bitcoin with his new found toy.
What is a Quantum Computer?
Quantum computing is a very complex discipline that takes ideas that were theorised from the field of Quantum physics. Quantum physics describes the notion that there are parallel worlds out there and that with every decision we make there is a branch of multiple realities. This is often termed the "Quantum probability wave".
While these concepts may sound more like a fantasy than reality, it could have vast implications for the way we design computers. Quantum computers could make difficult problems markedly easier. The processing power is distributed across all of these realities. It will be particularly useful for those application that require brute forcing to find solutions.
Using Quantum Computing in Mining
We have previously covered the technicalities of Bitcoin but it is essentially a computer that tries to solve a defined mathematical problem as outlined by the Bitcoin protocol. These computers will guess millions of times by adjusting the input (nonce) in order to solve this problem.
As more of these blocks are mined, the computational difficulty increases and hence the supply growth of Bitcoin tends to peter out. If one was to use a Quantum computer to complete these calculations, it would find the solution much more quickly. The Quantum computer will run the brute forcing calculations in different "states".
Riz goes on to analyse the in depth technicalities of the Bitcoin hashing algorithm and how it can be adjusted for use in Quantum computing. His analysis is quite involved and requires a deeper understanding of computer science to understand.
Yet, the end result is to mine Bitcoin and clear blocks in mere fraction of the times that this would take with traditional mining hardware.
Quantum Mining Around the Corner?
Although the fictional quantum mining setup by Riz is fascinating to envision, he admits that there are many technical challenges that need to be overcome before this could ever be considered.
However, the mere notion that we can develop theoretical constructs of how Bitcoin mining with Quantum computing could occur is in itself impressive. Technology has advanced in leaps and bounds over the past 20 years so much so that even 10 years ago, the concept of digital cash was laughable.
Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.