Impact of quantum computers on the blockchain
In recent years, the commercialization of “quantum computers,” which can perform calculations at orders of magnitude faster than today’s computers, has become more and more realistic.
What does a quantum computer mean for the future of blockchain? And will quantum computers threaten the security of blockchain?
To answer this question, we will first follow the origin, history, purpose, and recent developments of the concept of quantum computers. From there, we should be able to see how this technology will affect blockchain technology and what it will mean for the decentralized and autonomous society as a whole.
What is a quantum computer?
The major difference between quantum computers and conventional computers lies in the way they process information.
Traditional computers use pieces of data called “bits” to store information in one of two states: “0” and “1”. The “0” and “1” represent high-voltage or low-voltage electrical signals, respectively, which the computer interprets and displays on the screen.
Quantum computers, on the other hand, store information as qubits. In qubits, there is a unique state called “superposition” that has both “0” and “1” possibilities due to quantum mechanical principles.
Due to the high complexity of qubits, quantum computers can process data exponentially faster than conventional computers, solving computational problems that were theoretically impossible with conventional computers. ..
Looking back on the history of quantum computers
Research on the principles of quantum computers first appeared in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In 1979, Paul Benioff, a physicist at Argonne National Laboratory in the United States, published a paper showing the basic theory of quantum computers, suggesting the feasibility of quantum computers. And in 1980, Russian mathematician Yuri Manin went further into this concept in the book Computable and Non-Computable.
However, the concept of quantum computers began to spread in earnest after a lecture entitled “Simulating Physics with Computers” by theoretical physicist Richard Feynman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1981. did. In this talk, Feynman points out the problem that conventional computers cannot efficiently reproduce natural phenomena.
Feynman argued that if you make a computer that works on the principle of quantum mechanics, such as “If you want to simulate a natural phenomenon, it must be quantum mechanics”, the computer will be dramatically faster and more efficient. ..
In 1985, British physicist David Deutsch published a paper entitled “Quantum Theory, the Church–Turing Principle and the Universal Quantum Computer”. We are advocating the realization of a Turing machine. Deutsch, who has become widely known as a pioneer in quantum computing theory, describes quantum computing as “the first technology that can work together to perform useful tasks between parallel universes.”
Quantum algorithm development
Thirteen years later, in 1994, mathematician Peter Shor developed the famous algorithm. The “Shor’s algorithm” is very good at factoring integers, suggesting that public key cryptography can easily be broken by strong devices. In short, this algorithm proved that quantum computers can solve complex problems much faster than traditional state-of-the-art supercomputers.
For example, factoring a 300-digit number can take thousands of years on a traditional computer, but with Shor’s algorithm, a quantum computer can theoretically do this in a matter of hours. It is.
Similar to Feynman’s talk in 1981, Shor’s algorithm has increased interest in quantum computers. Two years later, in 1996, computer scientist Rob Grover developed a database search algorithm for quantum computers. In theory, this “Glover’s algorithm” can solve problems involving random search and brute force search (brute force search) four times faster than conventional computers.
Hurdle to achieve “quantum transcendence”
And in 1998, the world’s first physical quantum computer was completed. The device operated with only two qubits, but about 10 years later, Canadian startup D-Wave succeeded in developing a 28-qubit quantum computer.
Since then, the growth of quantum computers has continued to accelerate, with computers made by IBM and multiple university teams having 50 qubits in 2017, and Google’s quantum computer chip “Bristlecone” equipped with 72 qubits in 2018. Is announced.
Google claimed to have “demonstrated quantum transcendence” after the announcement of Bristlecone. In short, he claimed that the chip demonstrated computing power that traditional computers couldn’t (although this claim was later refuted).
The future of quantum internet and data security
Quantum computers have the potential to revolutionize the entire Internet. With the birth of the so-called “quantum Internet,” information exchange based on the principles of quantum mechanics will be possible between devices. The quantum Internet will also function as a platform for online communication and computational processing, which is not possible with conventional computers.
The Quantum Internet ensures a much higher level of digital security than ever before. A typical example is “quantum key distribution (QKD)”, which is expected to significantly improve encrypted communication. Similar to traditional encrypted messaging and data transfer, QKD’s algorithms share encryption keys between two or more entities, thereby exchanging information privately. However, QKD allows the exchange of encryption keys to be completely confidential and even alerts users to the presence of bystanders.
In addition, quantum computers enable true random number generation. Random number generation is essential for secure encryption, but most traditional computers rely on “pseudo-random number generators.” The numbers generated by this program are not truly random and therefore carry the risk of leakage.
Quantum computers are also expected to affect and improve the financial services, tools and infrastructure used by society. Quantum computers are suitable for organizing large amounts of random data, and are expected to significantly improve automated risk assessment and forecasting models.
Theoretically, quantum computers have unparalleled ability to identify, classify, and predict patterns that are currently impossible. For example, banks will be able to use quantum computers to improve algorithms and models that calculate statistical probabilities to predict the potential for anomalous activity that could affect financial markets. In addition, the data sorting ability of quantum computers can have a significant impact on the optimization of transaction data, which will improve return on investment and create new investment opportunities.
Impact of quantum computers on blockchain
While the benefits that quantum computers may bring, there are some concerns. It is pointed out that the existence of quantum computers threatens their security because blockchain technology uses a cryptosystem called public key cryptography or “asymmetric cryptography”.
Asymmetric cryptography generates a private key and a public key in pairs. The private key is kept secret and the public key is open to the public. Asymmetric cryptography is based on a mathematical concept called a “one-way function”, and while the public key can be easily derived from the private key, the reverse is not possible. And on the blockchain, the public key is used as the wallet address and the private key is used to access the funds in the wallet. In other words, with the conventional calculation method, the public wallet address can be derived from the private key, but the private key cannot be derived from the public address.
But with the addition of quantum computers, the story is different. Using “Shor’s algorithm”, it is theoretically possible for a quantum computer to derive the private key associated with any public wallet address on the blockchain. Obviously, this threatens the existence of blockchain today, but it is highly unlikely that such a scenario will actually happen.
In order to understand why blockchain cryptography may continue to evolve even in a world where quantum computers have become widespread, it is necessary to take a closer look at why cryptographic algorithms are vulnerable by quantum computers in the first place. ..
Traditional computers represent data in “bits”, but in the same way, the security of cryptographic algorithms is measured by “bit security”. For example, a traditional calculation procedure would require 2,128 calculations for an attacker to crack a 128-bit secure cryptographic algorithm.
However, quantum computers dramatically reduce the number of steps required to decrypt cryptographic algorithms. For example, using Shor’s algorithm, the security of a 3,072-bit RSA encryption key can be reduced to just 26 bits, which is a level that can be decrypted even with the computing performance of a smartphone. If large and powerful quantum computers become widespread, the power of many public-key cryptographic algorithms can effectively become obsolete.
Introducing Quantum Blockchain
Some types of encryption standards are vulnerable to quantum computers, but algorithms with so-called “quantum computer resistance” have already begun to be developed by well-known research institutes. In some cases, even common types of encryption can be “quantum computer resistant” when used correctly. For example, AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) ciphers with 256-bit or higher security are said to be “quantum resistant”.
With the rise of quantum computers, messaging applications, VPNs, crypto networks, etc. that rely on traditional cryptographic algorithms that are not quantum resistant will eventually need to move to quantum resistant algorithms.
But this change is evolution, not destruction. The continuous growth and development of general technology is basically based on the premise that individual concepts progress and change in step with each other, and in reality quantum computers and blockchain technology coexist. It is possible to cooperate and reinforce each other.
The combination of quantum computer and blockchain technology has come to be recognized as “quantum blockchain”. Quantum blockchain, like traditional blockchain, is an encrypted blockchain technology. However, unlike traditional blockchains, these networks are built on quantum arithmetic, quantum information theory, and quantum mechanics.
There is no quantum blockchain in operation yet, but many researchers are exploring the possibility of realizing this technology.
In 2018, researchers at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, devised a quantum blockchain model to store blockchain data in the quantum era. Fragments of transaction data are stored in entangled photons that exist only for a short time. However, the photons are still readable even after they are no longer present. That is, it is permanently saved as some sort of “read-only” mode and cannot be modified.
Theoretically, an extremely secure blockchain can be realized using such technology.
Quantum technology development continues to progress at an unprecedented rate, but it will take another five to ten years before quantum computers become practical. In the meantime, crypto developers and users have the time to take the steps needed to quantize blockchain networks. And when “quantum transcendence” arrives, blockchain projects will be innovated and prosperous.
Author: CoinPost Editorial Department
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