Why Quantum Computing Will Not Destabilize International Security: The Political Logic of Cryptology

53 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2018

See all articles by Jon Lindsay

Jon Lindsay

Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy and Department of Political Science, University of Toronto

Date Written: June 29, 2018

Abstract

The implications of quantum information technology for cybersecurity and strategic stability seem worrisome. In theory, an adversary with a quantum computer could defeat the asymmetric encryption protocols that underwrite internet security, while an adversary using quantum communications guaranteed secure by the laws of physics could deny intelligence warning of surprise attack. To assess these claims, this article first develops a general political logic of cryptology grounded in the bargaining model of war, which understands uncertainty as an important cause of war and institutions as an important source of information. Cryptology of any technological vintage is shaped by both aspects of this logic, with ambiguous implications for strategic stability. In practice, strategic interaction between intelligence competitors using real quantum systems implemented in fallible human organizations will mitigate the impact of quantum computing. The upshot is that the revolutionary scientific innovation of quantum computing will probably have only marginal political impact, in part because the fields of cryptology and computing have already undergone important transformations in recent decades.

Keywords: quantum computing, cryptology, cryptography, cybersecurity, international security

Suggested Citation

Lindsay, Jon, Why Quantum Computing Will Not Destabilize International Security: The Political Logic of Cryptology (June 29, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3205507 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3205507

Jon Lindsay (Contact Author)

Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy and Department of Political Science, University of Toronto ( email )

Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy
315 Bloor St W
Toronto, Ontario M5S 0A7
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.jonrlindsay.com

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