The rise and popularity of blockchain technology has proven itself to be one of the most unique and essential parts of the financial space since its launch. Many firms, companies and corporations around the world have started to adopt blockchain and cryptocurrencies into their systems and business models, seeking out better ways to make financing easier for their respected users and customer base.
It is expected that in the coming times, blockchain technology will be upfront in almost all other industries, showing its power and effectiveness towards management and security of data. But despite all the sunshine and rainbows, even blockchain technology isn’t perfect. Another technology that is still in development is not far from entering into mainstream systems is on the horizon to challenge the capabilities of blockchain technology, formally known as, Quantum computing.
Now that both technologies have been brought into light, it is important to learn their differences in design and performance and their respective advantages and shortcomings to have a clear understanding about their workings.
Difference between Quantum Computing and Blockchain
A blockchain is basically a digital ledger that is responsible for the storage and security of data inside of a certain network linked with the chain. Instead of gathering all the data in a centralized manner, blockchain tech utilize multiple series of computers and nodes to store data in a decentralized manner.
To achieve this, a series or network of special computer systems are to resolve cryptographic algorithms, to process the transfer of data, information or payments between two entities. Once the algorithms has been resolved, the resultant information is then recorded inside of a certain block. These blocks are transparent, meaning that the process record is available on a public level.
Because the data information is stored in several different blocks, the information inside of it is almost impossible to access without correct authorization, so even if hackers have the most advanced computer systems, they can barely act as counters to the solid systems of blockchain. Due to this level of security, blockchain has managed to win the hearts of many individuals the world who are looking to utilize this technology in finance and make an earning of it.
As said before, in this frame of time, blockchain technology has started to take control of everything, managing information like supply chain, medical records, financial transactions and many more.
However, there is a new challenger called Quantum computing that is looking to take blockchain’s position. To understand this better, we can take an example of a mathematical puzzle that involves finding two prime numbers that are multiplied to develop a new number.
As the numbers continued to grow, it started to become impossible for traditional computer systems to handle such a scale of calculation and solve the puzzle. However back in the year of 1994, the Shor’s algorithm was introduced to develop a solution for a mathematical puzzle this scale. The thing about Shor’s algorithm is that it is only possible to run it on a quantum computer.
Quantum computers posses an extraordinary level of processing capabilities to solve complex mathematical puzzles like the one mentioned above, so they have a high level of advantage over other traditional systems. Because of their capabilities, they can easily solve even the most complex problems that traditional systems cannot handle, making them a threat towards security measures.
As to this day, nobody has managed to develop a quantum computer at its full potential, however as with the level of progress that corporate giants and governments, like Apple, Amazon, Alibaba, the USA government, the Chinese government and others are making towards their research in quantum computing, the development of a fully functional quantum computer will soon become a reality.
Despite the threat, there are solutions that can protect modern traditional systems from being targeted by quantum computers in the coming time, so there is that bit of relief. As of now, quantum computing is still under development and very expensive to manage, however a firm from China recently introduced a small-scale quantum computer that has a price tag of around $5000, which is way cheaper than existing systems needed to run network nodes.
Relation of Quantum Computing with Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies
With the development of both blockchain and quantum computer systems, the future of computing is said to be become quite interesting and questionable at the same time. As of now, blockchain has the upper edge in terms of practicality, like managing cryptocurrencies and cryptography solutions, however, the quantum computing sector has also seen an astonishing development over the past few years of time.
According to some sources, quantum computing is just behind the development rate of blockchain-based solutions and is expected to experience a massive growth of around 25% for five years after the year of 2022.
Because of the impressive performance capabilities of quantum computing in comparison to blockchain, some argue that quantum computing will overcome blockchain technology in the coming time, providing much more complex series of security algorithms to secure any format of data. The result is said to be mainly dependent on the rate at which cryptographers can come up with certain solutions that can provide a shield against quantum level hacking events in the future.
Fusion of Blockchain with Quantum Computing
As mentioned before, both quantum computing and blockchain are racing towards dominance in the computing world, but some also think that blockchain technology will eventually work in conjunction with quantum computing, basically fusing together to develop highly secure systems that will not only provide an amazing level of security but will also be faster and introduce new and unique solutions that will cater towards solving both existing and future real-world problems.
With the fusion of both technologies, existing methodologies of blockchain like asymmetric-key algorithms, hash functions and others could be swapped with quantum keys. Quantum keys are distributed using a quantum key distribution (QKD) system that pushes photons through an optical-based linkage. For even a system like this to be effective in a practical manner, these keys need to use One-Time Pad encryption so that each unique key can only be used in a single instance.
Another issue like the node randomizer in traditional blockchain systems can be solved by introducing quantum level random number generator that will select the verification node in a much more effective way.
According to sources, the development of cryptocurrencies, that utilize the power of quantum level encryption, can reduce hacking attacks by more than 50% and if there is a chance that quantum solutions could be applied on blockchains, it could lead to reduced transaction speeds and could also improve the level of decentralization in popular network blockchains like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Cardano and Solana.
Quantum blockchain is said to be a decentralized, encrypted and distributed database that is powered by the complexity of quantum level computations and theories. If a set of data is recorded inside of a block in quantum blockchain. It will become impossible for hacker or exploiter to mess with it. With the development and research of quantum computing technology, many researchers are heavily interested in the development of a blockchain that is powered by quantum computing.
Quantum Blockchain Development
Before we dive into this area, it is first important to understanding quantum entanglement, which is a concept that involves the entanglement of light particles like Photons that have never existed alongside. The concept of a chain can be understood in conjunction to the concept of entanglement, while blockchain is said to be noted as the Greenberger-Horne Zeilinger (GHZ) state of the light particles that have not existed alongside.
During the design process of a quantum blockchain, the data inside of a block in converted into a string of two bits. As for encoding, block records are converted into a Bell state, developed according to a certain time frame with the absorption of photons. The bit strings in the Bell state are to be connected in chronological order by utilizing concepts of entanglement. The connection is achieved using a function process that pushes Bell states into a temporary GHZ state.
Every node in a quantum blockchain possess a clone of the blockchain, however there is an issue. It is important to verify the source of the blocks generated and the viability of a node. There is the θ-protocol that is used to verify block sources and nodes. A quantum random number generator is used to select a node. Once a block is provided by the source in form of n-qubits, the source needs to spread every qubit to every node, which send their own results to the verifier.
After that a series of mathematical calculations based on angles, if the verifier produces a probability of 1, then it means that the block is verified and is genuine, competing the verification process.
In terms of transactions, a quantum certificate is passed using a secure quantum channel, while other forms of information are transferred using traditional channels. Every miner must verify that the transaction is in line with their own set of local ledgers and provide their view on the adequacy of the transaction. After that, miners must use the Byzantine agreement protocol to the transaction to produce a solution for the adequacy of the transaction.
Quantum Algorithm in Blockchain
Multiple research teams are interested in implementing quantum level algorithm into sections of blockchain systems for much more effective mining, increasing transaction speeds and promoting decentralization. As of now, blockchains like Bitcoin are still using the consensus mechanism of proof-of-work, but their transaction speeds are far less compared to traditional systems used by companies like Alibaba.
This is mainly because a lot of time is required in the resolution of a proof-of-work puzzle during the introduction of fresh blocks. But the big issue that is that, even if this processing speed it reduced, it will lead to more centralization, which is a counter to decentralization.
So, some researchers have suggested to switch this proof-of-work consensus with quantum algorithms which can not only make transactions faster but can also maintain decentralization.
Countering Quantum threats on Blockchain networks
As mentioned before, there can be some solutions implemented to protect existing traditional systems from being targeted by quantum systems. As of now, two blockchains formally named as the quantum resistant ledger (QRL) and bitcoin post quantum (BPQ) have claimed that they are fully protected from quantum attacks.
The quantum resistant ledger secures itself using stateful signature strategy to produce impressive security levels. The quantum resistant ledger takes advantage of an IETF specified XMSS forward signature strategy, powered by hashing. XMSS is a signature strategy that contains Merkle trees, in which every node is highlighted using a cryptographic hash of a block. However, XMSS carries a certain shortcoming that includes keys can be utilized again.
Quantum resistant ledger has stated that their extended Merkle strategy is far more effective than normal Merkle schemes, but this is yet to be proven till the introduction of a full-fledged quantum computing system to test it. The cryptographic ledger has also introduced its very own QRL cryptocurrency, currently holding a price valuation of around $0.2, which the ledger also claims is completely safe from quantum attacks.
Bitcoin Post Quantum is very similar to quantum resistant ledger, as it also utilizes XMSS signature strategy to counter quantum offenses. The research done by bitcoin post quantum might prove to be basis of bringing quantum countering cryptography into the Bitcoin network. With the ledger still researching, its cryptocurrency called as, BitcoinPQ still has not seen the light of day.
Another example for this is a startup by the name of Quantum Blockchains, which is working to develop blockchain technology that is focused to counter threats presented by the development of quantum computing systems. The startup seeks to utilize the latest research of quantum cryptography to develop solutions that focus on protecting previous data and provide better processing speed, instead of using post-quantum algorithms.
The startup boasts a set of very talented individuals that are putting their focus towards researching quantum information, while also developing quantum blockchain solutions in the case of quantum cryptography knowledge graph (QRNG), in which quantum level processes can enhance both security and consensus mechanisms to revolutionize blockchains and help them reach new levels in parallel with quantum computing.
In general, as technology continues to progress, it has become extremely important for organizations to find more unique and secure solutions for data protection, so more and more of these organizations are now adopting blockchain technology to make ends meet. However, it is equally important to keep ahead of hackers and exploiters who will try their best, expected to use quantum technology to take advantage of networks and solutions for their own benefits in the future.
Vision of Quantum Computing and Blockchain
Both blockchain and quantum computing are envisioning a future that is still uncertain to many. Blockchain technology has managed to introduce democratic values into not only the internet, but major financial systems, promoting decentralization, giving everyone in the network equal importance. Not only that, blockchain technology has assisted in the development of various types of cryptocurrencies, while also promoting the development of large-scale computer networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
On the other hand, quantum computing, while still in development, is expected to have the power to resolve the most complex scientific and mathematical problems in a short amount of time, bringing evolution towards new and unique technological solutions or the coming times. Quantum computing is said to have far superior technological aspects that will raise its foundation towards a better level of efficiency and effectiveness compared to traditional systems.
The collision of blockchain and quantum computing can severely impact computer systems on a global scale, but if these two technologies are to join and work in parallel, there is no limit to what the two can produce, developing solutions that could not only make networks more secure, but also helping to resolve real-world issues more efficiently and effectively, with minimal repercussions and brining evolution to human way of life.
In order to effectively handle and secure transactions and other forms of data storage and verification, it is important to use systems that are secure to the core and are efficient and viable when utilized at their best. Blockchain in its core is quite strong and secure, however it is threatened by the likes of emerging technologies like quantum computing, which can easily crack its security measures and provide unethical entities to take control of information they have no right upon.
While being somewhat threatening, quantum computing has its own set of advantages that can help to solve the most difficult and complex mathematical challenges and puzzles in the last amount of time, however this sort of power can be controlled, by measures developed to protect existing blockchain networks from being exploited by quantum systems in the coming time. Plus, if both technologies are to work together, there is an unimaginable number of possibilities in computing.
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