Although people may have their doubts about the bitcoin, most will concede that it’s a really ingenious concept, if nothing else.
When the person or people behind the alias “Satoshi Nakamoto” released plans for the bitcoin in 2008, it was in direct response to the 2008 financial crisis and the corrupt and irresponsible bankers who were responsible for it.
Principal to the bitcoin ideal is the idea that an anarchist model of currency determined solely by mathematical calculations can remove the burden of managing financial matters from the inept and put it in the hands of complex math and computer processors.
Here’s how: bitcoins enter the virtual economy by being “mined”. This is another way to say that they are encrypted in such a way that computers need to spend an allotted amount of processing power on each bitcoin in order to free it and put it in the virtual wallet of the computer owner.
Nakamoto set up the system so that the processing time necessary for bitcoins doubled every four years. This allowed for the bitcoin economy to grow as more users become aware of their potential to mine and exchange bitcoins, but at a controlled rate that allowed for the value of each bitcoin to eventually even out.
Since bitcoins have hit it big (and taken a dive and hit it big and taken a dive again), enthusiasts have devoted extremely powerful processing computers to the mining effort, earning their bitcoin fortunes the hard way and allowing the virtual economy to continue to grow.
People have been skeptical about the future of bitcoin (which hurts the value- after all, currency only means something if people believe it does), but it has been much more resilient than many spectators would have guessed.
However, the recent advances made by Google and NASA in creating a quantum computer threaten to change basically everything in human existence; this includes the bitcoin.
Quantum computers use atomic and subatomic particles to process information. These particles are not only easier to group together than your standard microscopic transistor, but they exist in “superposition”, meaning that they hold the answer to transcending the binary system of 0’s and 1’s. This allows for parallel processing that greatly exceeds that of any device that works on the binary system. According to Google and NASA, their most recent D-Wave system is actually 10 million times more powerful then any device on the binary system.
Think about it: if value is derived by set amounts of processing power dedicated to the mining process, and a supercomputer hits the market that processes information up to 10 million times faster than anything running off the binary system, that will be the end of bitcoin mining… and encryption in general, likely.
Whoever holds power over the quantum computer will be given extraordinary power; inventions of this kind are unprecedented in that this particular one makes it impossible for any encrypted information to remain encrypted.
It could also allow for crazy advanced in mchine learning and much more humanoid AI, space travel, etc.