Two teams of Chinese scientists achieved quantum advantage, a technical term that refers to when a computer performs functions beyond those of a traditional computer. This may signal that we are truly entering a new era. Although Sycamore, Google’s 54-qubit-quantum processor, was the first to be widely recognized as an example of early-stage quantum computing technology, the most recent news from the University of Science and Technology of China (UoSTC) is the best evidence yet that we have crossed over the information rubicon.
These developments have many positive aspects, but there are also reasons to be cautious. We might all be eagerly awaiting the day when we can predict traffic jams and animal testing will be history, or determine someone’s likelihood to get cancer and then engineer a treatment. But this incredible power also has a dark side.
Quantum-level computing is the most dangerous for a society that relies on the internet. It puts all our digital infrastructures in danger. Cryptography is the use of keys and codes to protect data storage and communication. This is how our internet works today. For cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), this concept is essential, but one sufficiently powerful quantum computer could result in the theft of billions or even the destruction of entire blockchains. The notion of wallet ownership will be obsolete as digital signatures are now easily forgeable.
Similar: Talking Digital Future: Quantum Computing and Cryptography
In the 1980s, quantum computers seemed a far-fetched idea when I pioneered digital currency. Although we all knew it was coming (tech workers are often acutely aware that the future is moving at breakneck speed towards them), we didn’t spend much time thinking about what looked like deep-future tech in a world without the internet.
Quantum computing vulnerability
However, times have changed. Over the next 30 years, cryptocurrency would become more refined and store almost $3 trillion in value. Deloitte’s analysis found that more than 25% of Bitcoin could be stolen in one attack. This amounts to almost $300 billion at the time this article was written. This would make it three-thousands times more profitable than the next best heist. This vulnerability is frightening when you consider that cryptocurrency will account for 10% of the world’s GDP by 2025. Quantum computing is not only possible, but it’s also more dangerous than ever.
History has shown us that hackers, cyber-terrorists, and criminal organizations are not the only ones to be afraid. It is also governments. The revelations about Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning over the past decade have shown the world just how powerful a government can (and will) act when no one is looking. Russia and China are both authoritarian countries with sophisticated methods for controlling and coercing their peoples. Quantum computing could only enhance their tyranny.
Although we know of some early examples of quantum computing, it would be foolish to place a bet that a state-level actor will be able to access a highly-developed quantum technology before a private company. They won’t be just coming to get your Bitcoin when they do eventually acquire this technology. They will read your messages and any email, IM, or document that you sent with the old cryptography. Now, they can access them using their quantum master-key.
Is there a way?
Moving forward, the challenge is to keep ourselves from their destructive potential. As part of the xx network, my team and I have been working hard to develop our quantum-secure blockchain. Adding privacy protection to our metadata-shredding DApp, xx Messenger, will help protect against malicious actors who are capable of using quantum-arms. There will be many other solutions from different innovators. They just aren’t coming fast enough.
There are good reasons to believe that the quantum-computing revolution will not endanger our chances of creating a decentralized, blockchain-based world. One example is that the National Institute of Standards and Technology of the United States has already begun to look at 69 new methods of “post-quantum encryption” and plans to produce a draft standard by 2024. This standard could then be spread across the internet.
In a post-quantum world, there are very few cryptographic methods that would be redundant. Digital signatures and key agreement protocols are most vulnerable. Innovations such as lattice cryptography and key agreement protocol provide ready-made solutions that can be implemented in the next generation blockchain technology. There are also stronger techniques.
Although a quantum computer on a large scale like the one I have pictured in your nightmares may not be possible, our community’s irrational optimism (usually an asset), and hubris could make us vulnerable when it does. These last years have witnessed a significant uptake in cryptocurrency and the idea that decentralization could be a solution to many of the problems we face today. We are winning this battle. It would be a terrible shame to lose this war, because we didn’t take this collective threat our security and privacy seriously.
We can unlock the core promise of blockchain technology, and reaffirm its appeal. That sounds exciting.
This article is not intended to provide investment advice. Every trade and investment involves risk. Readers should do their research before making any decision.
These views, thoughts, and opinions are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Cointelegraph.
David Chaum, one of the first blockchain researchers, is a world-renowned cryptographer and privacy advocate. He is known as the “Godfather of Privacy” and proposed a solution to protect metadata using mix-cascade networks. This was in 1979. His 1982 dissertation at the University of California Berkeley was the first to propose a blockchain protocol. Dr. Chaum was the creator of eCash, the first cryptocurrency. He also made many contributions to secure voting systems during the 1990s. Today Dr. Chaum is the Founder and CEO of Elixxir and Praxxis. This network combines Dr. Chaum’s decades of research and contributions to the field of privacy and cryptography to provide state-of the-art blockchain solutions.
Eileen Wilson –Technology and Energy
My Name is Eileen Wilson with more than 5 years of experience in the Stock market industry, I am energetic about Technology news, started my career as an author then, later climbing my way up towards success into senior positions. I can consider myself as the backbone behind the success and growth of topmagazinewire.com with a dream to expand the reach out of the industry on a global scale. I am also a contributor and an editor of the Technology and Energy category. I experienced a critical analysis of companies and extracted the most noteworthy information for our vibrant investor network.