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Quantum Communication
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1Quantum Revolution& Advanced AI2HumanAugmentation3Eco-Regeneration& Geo-Engineering4Science& Diplomacy1.11.21.31.42.12.22.32.43.13.23.33.43.54.14.24.34.44.5HIGHEST ANTICIPATIONPOTENTIALAdvancedArtificial IntelligenceQuantumTechnologiesBrain-inspiredComputingBiologicalComputingCognitiveEnhancementHuman Applications of Genetic EngineeringRadical HealthExtensionConsciousnessAugmentation DecarbonisationWorldSimulationFuture FoodSystemsSpaceResourcesOceanStewardshipComplex Systems forSocial EnhancementScience-basedDiplomacyInnovationsin EducationSustainableEconomicsCollaborativeScience Diplomacy
1Quantum Revolution& Advanced AI2HumanAugmentation3Eco-Regeneration& Geo-Engineering4Science& Diplomacy1.11.21.31.42.12.22.32.43.13.23.33.43.54.14.24.34.44.5HIGHEST ANTICIPATIONPOTENTIALAdvancedArtificial IntelligenceQuantumTechnologiesBrain-inspiredComputingBiologicalComputingCognitiveEnhancementHuman Applications of Genetic EngineeringRadical HealthExtensionConsciousnessAugmentation DecarbonisationWorldSimulationFuture FoodSystemsSpaceResourcesOceanStewardshipComplex Systems forSocial EnhancementScience-basedDiplomacyInnovationsin EducationSustainableEconomicsCollaborativeScience Diplomacy

Sub-Field:

1.2.1Quantum Communication

The unique properties of quantum systems such as individual photons of light allow them to be used in provably secure cryptographic key exchange. This is of great interest to organisations such as healthcare providers, governments and financial institutions. Quantum protocols can now be deployed between dedicated nodes distant up to about 100 km using existing optic fibres — enough to link, for example, a bank headquarters and a data storage warehouse. Academic prototypes are operating at very low key generation rates over satellite links.5.6
Already very difficult to break, future implementations will provide unconditional, device-independent quantum cryptography that will be unbreakable both in theory and practice. However, a number of challenges to the widespread rollout of quantum cryptography remain. Among them are cost, bandwidth and distance, integration with standard communication systems and the need to establish certification methods that are easy to apply. A crucial breakthrough will be the development of “quantum repeaters” that can securely amplify the signals to enable their transmission over thousands of kilometres, although workarounds may be possible.7

Future Horizons:

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5-yearhorizon

Commercial quantum cryptographic channels are established

An increasing number of companies commercialise systems providing secure quantum cryptographic channels over hundreds of kilometres. The first demonstration of quantum repeaters increases the distances for quantum communications. Quantum random number generators are more broadly deployed in personal technology, radically improving security for financial transactions and secure communications. 

10-yearhorizon

Satellite links and repeaters allow >500km secure communications

Terrestrial and satellite links are available for quantum cryptographic secure channels over more than 500 km, which compose networks containing dozens of nodes and quantum repeaters. So-called device-independent protocols realise the theoretical promise of unconditional security. Certification techniques based on general tests allow people to trust an encryption system without knowing all the details of its inner workings.8

25-yearhorizon

A secure intercontinental quantum internet is established

A “quantum internet” is in place with provably secure quantum communication channels running between many nodes, combining terrestrial optic fibres and satellite links to connect several countries, in particular in and between Europe, the US and China. This will be of particular interest for sensitive data concerning e.g. health, finance, legal, whistleblowing, but also possibly for autonomous vehicles. The quantum internet will augment the “conventional internet” for the most privacy- and security-critical applications.

Quantum Communication - Anticipation Scores

How the experts see this field in terms of the expected time to maturity, transformational effect across science and industries, current state of awareness among stakeholders and its possible impact on people, society and the planet. See methodology for more information.

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