The quantum future is coming and David Chaum’s xx network is ready for it
“The choice between keeping information in the hands of individuals or organizations is made every time a government or business decides to automate another set of transactions.
In one sense, there is unprecedented scrutiny and scrutiny of people’s lives, in the other, secure parity between individuals and organizations.
The shape of society in the next century may depend on which approach prevails.
While perfectly describing the state of privacy in 2022, these words are actually taken from the conclusion of a 1992 Scientific American article written by David Chaum. An American computer scientist and cryptographer, Chaum is widely recognized as a pioneer in cryptography having first proposed a solution to create a blockchain protocol in 1982.
He earned his nickname “Godfather of Cryptocurrency” early in the industry because his doctoral thesis proposed all but one of the elements of the blockchain protocol detailed in the Bitcoin whitepaper.
Much of Chaum’s work has proven to be a harbinger of things to come. In 2022, most of the world’s news networks have placed their users’ data in the hands of organizations rather than the individuals from whom they collected it.
And while there is still time before a critical level of mistrust in these organizations is reached, trust in the alternatives has never been higher.
Fight the battles of the future with the xx network
Blockchain and other privacy technologies paving the way for Web3 have become the focus of extensive research efforts and embraced by governments and businesses across multiple industries.
However, no matter how secure and efficient these networks are, they all have a critical point of failure: none of them are resistant to quantum computing.
Chaum thinks those who dismiss the dangers of quantum computers and their ability to crack even the most advanced cryptography fail to realize the technology isn’t science fiction — it’s just around the corner.
“In the last few months alone, India has invested $1 billion in quantum computing and Israel has announced plans to develop its own quantum computer for ‘strategic capabilities,'” Chaum told CryptoSlate. “The Russian government started investing in 2020, and the UK has invested over $1 billion since 2013. There is a secret arms race that puts almost all blockchains at risk.”
Some reports estimate that we could have as many as two to five thousand active quantum computers in the world by 2030. Chaum thinks these are realistic estimates and adds that it will be at least a decade before the quantum computing becomes mainstream.
However, it doesn’t need to be mainstream to pose a threat.
“The American or Chinese government, for example, will not shout its progress from the rooftops. All they need is a system powerful enough to threaten our privacy, our security, our digital sovereignty – and yes – your crypto wallet as well.
Chances are that when we fully enter the era of quantum computing, we won’t know for some time.
Chaum truly believes the quantum future is coming. In a sense, he says, it’s already there.
That’s why he and his team decided to launch the xx networka new kind of quantum-resistant and scalable blockchain platform designed to solve the decentralization and security challenges we face today.
The xx network consists of five large Components — blockchain, nodes, governance, currency and communication — designed to provide a secure and protected digital sphere. Blockchain xx is the basic decentralization mechanism of the network, allowing independently operated nodes to publicly verify the execution of transactions and other network operations.
To further advance the security of the platform, it uses a new consensus protocol developed by Chaum and his team. Called the xx consensus, the protocol is based on the Byzantine fault-tolerant (BFT) family of protocols and is capable of achieving linear scalability.
However, it differs from other BFT-based protocols due to its quantum resilience, high transaction throughput, and ability to remain secure even if up to a third of the network is compromised or goes offline.
Chaum hopes that platforms with this level of security will soon become mainstream.
“I think when developers realize the threat of quantum computing, protocols like ours will have to become the norm. Users don’t want vulnerable blockchains. he idea that most of this value disappears in an instant will certainly focus people’s minds.
The Three Decades of Cryptography Behind the xx Messenger
But it’s not just the loss of monetary value that the xx network wants to protect its users from – it’s also the loss of privacy.
One of the five key components of the xx network is a communication layer implemented through Chaum’s flagship product called the xx messenger.
The xx messenger isn’t the only privacy-focused messaging app on the market, but it’s the only one that leverages such a unique protocol as the xx consensus.
“What messenger xx does is leverage a single protocol to shred your metadata: who the message is from, who you’re sending the message to, when it was sent, etc. Of course, the contents of the message is encrypted on other apps, but all the rest of this communication is available to the owner.
Other messengers retain this information because it has significant commercial value. We don’t know anything about our users, and that’s how it should stay.
Chaum says shredding metadata is imperative for secure communication. Even though message content is masked by end-to-end encryption, the platform can still access its users’ metadata.
“Governments and corporations can use metadata to gather an intimate picture of your life,” Chaum explained. “Mark Zuckerberg, who recently touted Facebook and WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption, still keeps your metadata.
Why? Because it’s precious. Why is it valuable? Because it contains an incredible amount of information about you, and advertisers, governments and businesses want it.
In addition to metadata shredding, the xx messenger also leverages mixed networking, a technology pioneered by Chaum in the early 1980s that paved the way for major cryptographic innovations such as Tor. Mixed networks take data from multiple senders, mix it up, and send it back in random order to the next destination or node. It is therefore extremely difficult, if not impossible, for a third party to find out who the sender and the recipient are.
The mix Chaum network protocol applied to the xx messenger, called cMix, goes even further.
“Other mixed network designs often use public key operations, which delays transmission times. But by using precomputation, we can drastically reduce computing power and processing time. This technique means that any modern smartphone is capable of performing completely private messaging with a very low latency experience.
What awaits us for Web3
The xx network is Chaum’s attempt to contribute to the fight for a better Web3 world. And while he’s quite optimistic that quantum-resistant technologies like those operated by the xx network will become the norm, he still assesses the worst-case scenario for the industry.
He believes the goal of the Web3 movement is to reverse the centralizing force of Web2 companies.
“What we don’t want is for false decentralization to become the norm, a middle way where new businesses and dApps built on the blockchain maintain a semi-centralized model, with owners holding significant amounts of control indefinitely. “
However, Chaum also believes that people are increasingly aware of the downsides of Web2, so the market for an alternative solution is large.
“Every time you centralize power and information, people lose and democracy loses. So, the potential for blockchains to help solve this general problem is profound.