Chapter 13 investigates cryptocurrency and quantum computing. Bitcoin – the world’s first cryptocurrency - was released by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009. Unlike conventional money, Bitcoin transactions are anonymous - maintained by a worldwide collection of computers operated by volunteers. Bitcoin took off on the black market but then migrated to legitimate business. The current value of all bitcoins is a staggering $41 billion. Strangely, no one knows who Nakamoto is – he, she, or they have yet to reveal themselves. Quantum computing was first proposed by physicist Richard Feynman in 1981. His idea was that the weird behaviour of sub-atomic particles could be exploited to perform computations. In theory, quantum computing allows huge numbers of calculations to be performed simultaneously. Google, IBM and others are now in race to build a practical quantum computer. Such a machine might well crack the encryption algorithms that currently underpin both the Internet and Bitcoin.
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