Web3, what is it and will Quantum Technology impact it?

You may have been hearing things about the latest incarnation of the web. We’ve had the web, then web 2.0 and now we have Web3. But what is it, what does it mean and could Quantum technologies have a role to play in the development of this latest iteration? You may have heard of Meta, which is what the company previously known as Facebook calls itself. News of the social network’s rebrand has sent a frenzy of activity into understanding the metaverse and Web3 coined by Gavin Wood (co-founder of Etherium) back in 2014.

Netscape was one of the first browsers in the 1990s that gave users their first taste of the Web.
Netscape was one of the first browsers in the 1990s that gave users their first taste of the Web.

Some of the aspects of Web3 may naturally lend themselves to employing aspects of Quantum technologies such as Quantum Computing. We’ll briefly delve into some of the ideas underpinning Web3 and how Quantum could find its way into the internet of the future. The first incarnation of the Web or Web1 saw companies like AOL get us online as ISP’s and fledgeling browsers such as Mosaic and Netscape which soon got dominated by larger rivals such as Microsoft Explorer and with Web2 we saw the rise of the platform with search primarily being one the killer use cases with Google leading the charge of capturing users with their sticky products and ecosystem. Web3 could offer a few quite drastic changes and we outline what some of these could be.

Decentralized World

It’s not just blockchain enthusiasts who get excited about decentralized possibilities. Being beholden to large platforms like Google and Meta (formerly Facebook) scares those with privacy concerns or simply those who feel that many feel these platforms simply have too much control. Users could have more control over their data and how it is used. Of course, blockchain and Crypto are likely to play an important role in underpinning technology.

Looking at how we transact, we still rely on central finance providers such as traditional banks, credit cards and PayPal etc (for the most part), but increasingly more are turning to cryptocurrencies for making payments for items or transacting value. Decentralized Finance (DeFi) is simply one area that has taken the finance world by storm, obviating much legacy machinery. A decentralized world will need a decentralized payment structure (DeFi). Just the same, we also require DApps or decentralized applications. Whilst we see numerous tokens (such as Bitcoin, Etherium, Cardano + more), the actual technologies vary, but the principle of decentralized finance appears like it has legs and is here to stay.

Decentralized but Unified Worlds

The portability of data is something we don’t readily see today. Moving between the Facebook of today and the next social network or metaverse might not be easy. Platforms want to capture and retain users. But in the future, it is likely there will be multiple places to interact and develop relationships, but users will likely demand control over their data. Again, many will posit the blockchain as being a transformative technology in this regard. Perhaps users will get away from the sheer vast number of logins for each service and face incompatible apps, services and the like for the Web2 of today with a single verification point that enables users to transit between multiple services or metaverses.

Putting the Quantum in Web3

Quantum Resistant Ledger. Ensuring that security protocols are resilient against Quantum Computers.

Networking will be part of the offering, especially in a decentralized world, which means that secure communication will be a key part of the equation. Quantum Networks can potentially offer secure communications. When it comes to the blockchain, developers will have to ensure that it can remain resilient against quantum computing algorithms such as Shor’s algorithm which threaten the security of many current security protocols. There are a number of Quantum Resistant Solutions in the works such as QRL (which means Quantum Resistant Ledger). NFTs or Non Fungible Tokens have been proving popular and just like the crypto space, security underpins their utility and again will need to be secure against attack from quantum computing.

Researchers around the planet are looking at the Quantum Internet and the applications that run on it. QuTech in the Netherlands even has a publicly available demonstration of the Quantum Internet which allow users to experiment with performing computations such as CNOTs or other algorithms over simulated distances. QKD or Quantum Key Distribution might well be another application of Quantum in Web3.

Summary

We don’t know exactly what the future holds, but if there is an opportunity to deploy Quantum Computing in new fields including Web3, it likely will happen. Quantum isn’t a solution for just faster computing. Already there is a web3 foundation that supports a number of projects including Polkadot (the CC token) and decentralized messaging.

Some of the nearer term impacts of Quantum technology could be on the security aspects of Web3, since security protocols might be vulnerable to attack from large scale quantum computers – despite the field only producing at best just over 100 qubits. Right now, some of the most powerful computers would struggle to factorize anything larger than a two-digit number and therefore present no threat to current encryption schemes. Companies such as PsiQuantum plan to build quantum machines with millions of physical qubits, which may at first sound a large number but are still likely to offer comparatively few logical qubits which pose little threat to current encryption schemes. Of course, developers will want to make their security schemas quantum-resistant and hence expect to see more schemes that are defendable against future quantum computer attacks such as QRL.