Opinion | What does Google's “quantum hegemony” mean for the future of the blockchain industry?

In this way, the prediction of quantum computers replacing traditional computers is a step closer to reality.

Google quantum supremacy

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According to a recent report by the Financial Times, technology giant Google claims to have achieved "quantum supremacy," which means it has built a quantum computer that can solve problems that were previously impossible. Mathematical calculations.

If it proves to be true, then this will be an important milestone in the development of quantum computers, and it may also be the beginning of the disappearance of blockchain technology that we are currently familiar with.

Since the advent of Bitcoin, the threat of quantum computing has prompted researchers, technicians, and now governments to develop software that can withstand the most powerful quantum computer attacks.

Although quantum computers are still largely in the theoretical stage, it is thought to greatly speed up the resolution of complex calculations. The speed is so fast that today's computers can't solve calculations in a lifetime, and quantum computers can be cracked in just a few seconds.

Data research firm CB Insights explains that quantum computers rely on "naturally occurring quantum mechanical phenomena" called quantum superposition and quantum entanglement. The report reads:

“When these material states are used in calculations, they can accelerate our ability to make huge calculations.”

Governments involved in quantum computing research

This summer, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), in collaboration with the University of Waterloo, launched a two-year quantum safety blockchain technology research program.

Nic's public relations consultant, Nic Defalco, said the study was led by University of Waterloo professors Srinivasan Keshav and Michele Mosca. It received a total of $180,000 in funding over two years to expand the team and other "high-quality talent."

According to Andersen Cheng, chief executive of the quantum research and development company Post-Quantum, Canada is a leader in quantum computing research among governments. He said:

“Governments in other countries are also struggling to catch up. The United States is lagging behind. The UK has invested heavily in quantum computing hardware, and now they are just beginning to consider post-quantum software and encryption.”

In December last year, US President Donald Trump signed the National Quantum Initiative Act, which plans to allocate $1.2 billion over five years to promote quantum information science. In June of this year, the UK National Quantum Technology Project received $193 million from the UK government, bringing the total investment of the program to $1.2 billion since 2014.

Why are you making a fuss?

According to data from CB Insights, investment in the private sector is also increasing. The company has found that private quantum computing startups have grown more than 200% over the past six years.

All of this, in the eyes of Adam Koltun of the Quantum Resistant Ledger Foundation, reflects an increasingly serious problem. He said:

“A decade ago, people said that quantum computing took 50 years to reach the current level. Five years ago, they said that it would take 25 years to reach the current level. In this way, quantum computing has an annoying habit, that is often Exceeding people's expectations."

Colton continues to add:

“The blockchain industry really needs to address this issue and be vigilant.”

Colton's team claims that they have built the first blockchain that can withstand quantum computer attacks.

Colton is concerned that future blockchains and cryptocurrencies, as well as the entire Internet, will continue to face potential risks if no initiatives are taken to protect existing technologies from possible attacks.

Warning of blockchain

In fact, quantum computers can break the blockchain in several different ways.

First, digital signatures based on elliptic curve cryptography (ECC) provide security for blockchain transactions. At the same time ECC is also used to encrypt user data and website traffic on the Internet.

However, ECC is not "quantum safe," and Post-Quantum's Andersen Cheng believes that this means that a powerful quantum computer can theoretically crack the user's private key and falsify the transaction signature. He said:

"Once this trust is broken, the cryptocurrency will come to an end."

Andersen Cheng added:

"If you can't tell if the right person is signing a deal with you, then you have destroyed trust. The world of cryptocurrencies is based on a distributed, trust-free environment."

In the case of coexistence with quantum computers, this is by far the most important security issue for blockchains, especially since researchers and mathematicians already know that an algorithm called Shor can be used by quantum computers to break the ellipse. Curve digital signature. Colton of the Quantum Responsibility Fundamentals Foundation said:

“For decades, we have mastered the mathematical algorithmic models of first and second generation quantum computers.”

At the same time, Colton also believes that quantum computers may go far beyond scientists' expectations and prove that blockchain technology will exit the historical arena in a way that people can't imagine. He said:

"You should be wary of those who sell you waterproof watches or anti-quantum blockchains because we are not fully aware of the potential of quantum computers… if anyone claims that any technology product, blockchain or other technology product is not subject to quantum computers The impact, then they need to know that these computers have all the capabilities we still know."

Don Quixote-style battle?

Because the full power of quantum computers is still unknown, it can sound a foolish task to confront them to reduce their impact on existing blockchain platforms.

As the famous bitcoin evangelist and author Andreas M. Antonopoulos often explains, in his view, the threat of quantum computing is often exaggerated. In a monthly Q&A event last year, he said:

"We can easily switch to another algorithm. In fact, the threat of quantum computers is not as big as people think."

More importantly, although the power of quantum computers may be much broader than currently thought, they may be greatly exaggerated. Bitcoin core developer Peter Todd said:

"Google's quantum breakthrough is a primitive type of quantum computing that is far from cracking cryptography. We don't even know if it is possible to extend the scale of quantum computers."

However, it is widely believed that quantum computing will become a problem in the future development of blockchain networks. Professor Kshaf of the University of Waterloo asks:

"Can we not do something today?"

Kshaf said his newly commissioned research team will study some of the most promising "quantum security password" tools, including lattice-based cryptography and multivariate public-key cryptography. ). His researchers will first test on the enterprise-centric Hyperledger Fabric blockchain.

According to Kshaf, there are many other broader cryptographic spaces that should be studied. Speaking of a competition being held by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Kshaf said that the institute has received more than 80 reports from researchers and scholars on "anti-quantum public key cryptography". Different proposals.

Post-Quantum CEO Andersen Cheng presented his proposal in the ongoing cryptography competition at NIST:

"You don't need a quantum computer to solve the problem of how to deal with threats from it. This is not a trial and error, because you can use math to figure out what is good enough and what is not good."