The disruptive triad for 2022

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Have you had enough interruptions? After COVID, riots, inflation, and disrupted supply chains, you will probably answer: yes enough for my life. But things have only just begun. Here are my predictions about the three technologies that will cause an explosive disruption in 2022 (one of them very literally), with reverberations that will continue for the rest of the decade and also for the rest of this century.

The first will be hypersonic missile technology. Unlike ballistic missiles, hypersonic weapons do not follow a single trajectory. They can pivot and turn towards the target, while their incredibly high speeds, exceeding Mach 5 or a mile per second, make today’s ground and space systems virtually obsolete because they cannot detect a hypersonic attack until it is almost too late. It is also unclear whether the Pentagon’s current command and control systems can process data fast enough to respond to a frontal hypersonic threat.

Last summer, China tested a hypersonic missile that literally circled the world before landing on its target, which it missed by a margin of error that can be corrected next time. A second test showed that these weapons can ride a nuclear-capable ballistic missile, even carry a nuclear weapon themselves.

Although the United States was the leading developer of hypersonic vehicles dating back to the X-15 program in the 1960s, China has performed hundreds of hypersonic weapon tests over the past five years, compared to just nine in the United States. According to General John Hyten, former Vice President of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, China’s hypersonic missiles have all the characteristics of a first-strike weapon, with the United States as the most obvious target.

The US military is not expected to deploy hypersonic weapons until 2023. Meanwhile, the Missile Defense Agency hopes to deliver a hypersonic missile defense capability by the mid-1920s. All of this may be too late to address a growing Chinese capability in terms of numbers and lethality. A surprise attack with hypersonic missiles is probably not in sight, but a radical rethinking of our military position in the face of the hypersonic threat should be. It is certainly the greatest threat to strategic balance since the days of nuclear weapons and we must respond with adequate resources starting now.

The second disruptive technology in 2022 will be cryptocurrencies. Last year was a bumper year for Bitcoin and its blockchain-based cousins. For 2021 as a whole, inflows reached $ 9.3 billion, a 36% jump from 2020. According to, more than 13,000 different cryptocurrencies are now being traded publicly. Cryptocurrencies continue to proliferate, raising money through initial coin offerings or ICOs. The total value of all cryptocurrencies on October 22, 2021 amounted to over $ 2.5 trillion.

Don’t be surprised if they hit $ 3 trillion this year. All in all, the global cryptocurrency market is estimated to reach $ 4.94 billion by 2030, nearly double its current value, while the price of a single bitcoin could reach $ 1 million.

Some predict that the current Bitcoin boom is actually a cryptocurrency bubble, which will crash as bubbles eventually. But whatever happens to Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies won’t go away. As long as central bankers continue to make clueless decisions, cryptocurrencies will continue to give state-denominated currencies literally a run for their money.

As for their underlying security, former SEC Chairman Jay Clayton correctly predicts that blockchain or Distributed Ledger Technology cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin rely on to protect investors is the future of cybersecurity. But only if it turns to the third disruptive technology, the quantum one.

I have written many times how crucial quantum technology will be for the future of the 21st century. A series of major breakthroughs in quantum computing this year, such as China’s claim of quantum advantage with a 1000 qubit superconducting computer and IBM

unveiling its 127-qubit Eagle quantum computer, have continued to accelerate the development of a large-scale quantum computer, including one that could threaten existing public cryptographic systems. What skeptics said could never happen is now something they admit could be real by 2040.

But those who see quantum computers as the most promising future of quantum technology are looking in the wrong place. The real quantum disruption in 2020 will be in quantum security, including the use of quantum-based technologies to protect data and communications from present and future threats.

Unlike quantum computers, this trend is already commercially viable. A growing number of companies are offering their customers quantum algorithms to protect against future quantum attacks; many are now introducing hybrid security systems that integrate quantum random number generators, for example, with algorithm-based security to provide an extra layer of non-hackable protection. Still others use quantum entanglement to create similar non-hackable networks.

Indeed, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) competition for resistant quantum algorithms, which is expected to publish its results by 2024, may already be far behind the trend.

The advent of secure quantum systems, based on algorithms or quantums, will disrupt the entire cybersecurity landscape as they protect against classical hackers and future quantum attacks. Distributed now, they can even defend against Russian and Chinese data collection or hackers who steal encrypted data now to decrypt it later, when a large-scale quantum computer is ready, the most immediate threat posed by the quantum computer race.

That quantum protection includes blockchains. It also includes command and control systems that oversee our most vital defense networks, including those that will prevent a future adversary from interfering with our hypersonic defense or disrupting our hypersonic capabilities.

Everyone recognizes that we will be living in “interesting times”, as they say, in 2022. Look for this triad to make things even more interesting, unless our government and our leaders use this moment to turn long-term risk into opportunity and disruption in strategic advantage.


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