David Qom is one of the world’s leading cryptographers who has been promoting online privacy and the Internet of Value for more than 40 years, and is recognized as the “father of cryptocurrency” and the founder of blockchain. With his accomplishments and legacy to date, a large biography would not be enough to tell the story. In order to facilitate readers to quickly understand Chaum, this article attempts to briefly introduce David Chaum’s work and outstanding contributions over the past decades from two main lines, namely privacy protection and the Internet of Value, and let us enter the glorious 40 years of this living fossil of the crypto world and the godfather of digital currency.
David Chaum is a well-known figure in the field of cryptography and digital currencies worldwide. He is the founder of the important cryptographic theory and algorithm of Bitcoin, the mentor of several alleged “suspected” Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of the world’s first digital currency, eCash, and the famous “He is the spiritual leader of Cyberpunk, an expert in Multi-Party Computing (MPC) technology, and is recognized as the first person in the world to protect privacy.
He is the first person in the world to be recognized as the first person in privacy protection technology. Joem proposed to build the Internet of Value as early as 1994, and many important figures in the contemporary blockchain industry have been influenced by him in one way or another, either by studying under him or working in his company.
He is the founder of the International Association of Cryptological Research (IACR), which is the world’s highest cryptographic conference, where the most important articles in cryptography are generally published. The most important articles in cryptography are generally published in these three conferences, of which the USM is the highest level cryptography conference.
Since 2016, David Chaum and his team have been working hard to build a new network comparable to Bitcoin: xxnetwork for the Post-Quantum Encryption era.
If I had to introduce David Chaum in one sentence, he would be.
He is the world’s leading cryptographer, the “father of cryptocurrency” and the founder of blockchain, who has been pushing for privacy protection and the Internet of Value for over 40 years.
In this article, we will try to introduce David Chaum’s work and outstanding contributions in two main lines: privacy protection and Internet of value, and let us enter the glorious 40 years of this living fossil of the crypto world and the godfather of digital currency.
Part I. The “Guardian” of Citizens’ Privacy in the Network World
As a child, David Chaum loved playing with locks, and was particularly obsessed with breaking locks and playing with safes, a hobby that has stayed with him for more than 60 years.
Like “locks”, cryptography is the study of protecting information from the “enemy”. It is a fundamental mechanism for ensuring the authenticity and integrity of information, and has been an important part of military, political and economic information transmission since ancient times.
In the mid-1970s, three important cryptographers, Martin Hellman, Whitfield Diffie and Ralph Merkle, published their paper “New Directions in Cryptography”, which broke the hold of the U.S. military and government on cryptographic knowledge and The foundation of public key cryptography was laid, and the popularity and application of the technology was promoted.
In contrast to the long history of symmetric cryptography, public-key cryptography allows people to transmit important information through an insecure message transmission channel, where the sender encrypts the message with the receiver’s public key and only the person with the private key corresponding to the public key (usually the receiver) has the right to access and decrypt the message. Or conversely, the sender encrypts (i.e., signs) the message with his or her private key, and the receiver uses the sender’s public key to verify the legitimacy of its source. This application scenario has become ubiquitous, from bank transfers and accessing websites to instant messaging such as WeChat, and even blockchain and digital currencies.
After the publication of the paper “New Directions in Cryptography,” interest in cryptography spread like wildfire in Silicon Valley among academics, researchers and engineers, including David Chaum, who was a graduate student at UC Berkeley, and has since started his open life.
After studying a large number of sources, I believe that from the late 1970s to the mid-1920s, David Chaum made outstanding contributions to privacy protection technology in six main areas. These achievements have had an irreplaceable and important impact on today’s blockchain, decentralized networks, privacy protection, bitcoin, etc.
I. Hybrid Networks
Although public-key cryptography solves the problem of encrypted messaging, Chaum believes it is only part of the solution. He believes that encryption does not necessarily mean security, and that “metadata” such as “who talks to whom and when” is still at risk of exposure. With this metadata in hand, people’s communications can still theoretically be identified and tracked.
After completing his graduate studies, Chaum decided to write a paper on “communication security” for his senior thesis, “Untraceable Electronic Mail, Return Addresses, and Digital Signatures,” published in 1979, Return Addresses, and Digital Pseudonyms). In this thesis, he proposed a protocol for anonymous mail based on the Mix Network.
Applications based on this theory include the federally funded Tor Onion Network and the Cyberpunk mailing list system.
II. Blind and Group Signing Techniques
Having addressed the potential risks of unprotected metadata, Chaum further examines financial transactions from the perspective of privacy protection. He was ahead of the curve in realizing that in an increasingly digital world, e-commerce and the resulting online shopping and payments would become very important. And the timing of transactions and purchases could not only be tracked, but could also be used to conduct analyses of personal lives, consumer choices, and political leanings, thus seriously infringing on consumer privacy.
In 1982, Chaum published his paper “Blind Signatures for Untraceable payments”, in which he refined the concept of anonymous payments and invented the “blind signatures” algorithm. This algorithm became the core algorithm of eCash and subsequent e-commerce and payment technologies.
In 1991, Chaum published the paper “Group Signatures”, in which he introduced and demonstrated the schemes of group signatures and ring signatures, which laid the foundation of the underlying digital signatures for the later blockchain technology.
III. The concept of decentralization
As a famous hacker, Chaum did not believe in computer systems, and he believed that they were all easy to be broken. So Chaum, during his doctoral studies, reviewed his ideas in his graduate thesis, and he decided to study the problem of trust in computer systems. in 1982, Chaum proposed the concept of decentralization in his thesis “Computer Systems Built, Maintained, and Trusted by Mutually Suspicious Groups” and studied the scheme of how to build trusted computer networks among mutually distrustful groups.
Chaum developed the concept of decentralization purely out of his initial desire to protect the privacy of individuals, which is one of his most fundamental beliefs. As the world became increasingly interconnected and interactive, he realized the need to protect his personal data. He saw cryptography as the ultimate means to achieve this goal. This is because cryptography is essentially the study of protecting information from being accessed by others. Cryptography is enforced by mathematical laws, a power outside of centralized control, and no one can surpass it.
He argues that.
True personal privacy can only be achieved when individuals are empowered to use cryptography to control and protect their data.
IV. Mail forwarder (Remailer)
The hybrid network-based anonymous email protocol proposed by David was later developed by a number of software engineers to become Remailer. These software engineers include Hal Finney, who is highly suspected to be Satoshi Nakamoto (or has evidence of close cooperation with him), Len Mesassa, and Adam Back.
In fact, the cyberpunk mailing list itself is built on a distributed mail forwarder. The architecture of Bitcoin is very similar to that of a mail forwarder, with the difference being that Bitcoin’s nodes transmit transaction data rather than messages.
Not only is the forwarder technology the direct technical ancestor of Bitcoin, but it is also the foundation of Bitcoin. In the article “Why Email”, Finney argues that email is the foundation of the anonymous digital economy, writing that
Forwarding technology represents the “underpinning” of this idea, the ability to exchange information privately without revealing our true identities. In this way, we can participate in transactions, display credentials, and make deals without government or corporate databases tracking our every move.
Cyberpunk’s vision includes the ability to use “digital cash” to participate in transactions anonymously. This is another important area of anonymous email.
More importantly, mail forwarders directly drove the need for digital currency because without the means to pay anonymously, forwarder node operators would not be able to afford operating costs such as servers, which in turn would lead to problems such as the proliferation of spam. Therefore, in 1994, Hal Finney proposed that mail forwarders could be monetized through anonymous “tokens” and “cash tokens”.
In addition, Nick Szabo proposed the “Smart Contract” when discussing how to prevent mail forwarders from misusing resources.
V. “Cyberpunk” (Cypherpunk) platform
As time went on, Joom’s ideas about privacy protection began to mature and his vision of the future began to take shape in his mind. When he saw that computers were evolving faster than anyone expected, Jom was worried.
In 1985, he wrote what has since been embraced by cyberpunks as a spiritual platform, “Security Without ID – Making the Boss Obsolete,” in which he warned the world.
“Computers are taking away the power of individuals to own and use their own information. Public and private sector institutions have acquired and exchanged vast amounts of personal information with each other. Individuals have no way of knowing if this information is inaccurate, outdated or inappropriate ……
New and more serious dangers stem from computer pattern recognition technologies: even a small group of individuals using them, and using data collected from consumers’ daily transactions, can secretly conduct mass surveillance to infer individual lifestyles, activities, and connections.
The automation of payments and other consumer transactions is expanding these dangers to an unprecedented degree.”
In this article, Chaumchom understands that the design of the Internet architecture will have lasting social and political consequences. He looks at two futures, one built with centralized technology and the other built with decentralized technology, and finds that “the two approaches seem to produce quite different results.
Sixth, the upgraded version of the hybrid network: elixxir
The hybrid network has evolved over 30 years, from cyberpunk mailing lists to the Tor network, from mail forwarders to Bitcoin, and has done much to protect privacy in the online world.
After passing his prime, David Chaum led his team to propose an upgraded version of the hybrid network scheme in 2016 and completed the paper “cMix: Hybrid Cryptographic Operations with Minimal Real-Time Asymmetry”. In the cMix scheme, he proposed to use trusted precomputation to reduce the original hybrid network obfuscation computation time by several orders of magnitude, thus realizing a high-performance and highly secure hybrid network applicable to consumer level.
Based on cMix’s scheme and mathematical arguments, David Chom created a brand new privacy network project in 2017: elixxir, the test network is now online, and software/apps such as instant messaging and multi-party secure computing have already appeared on the elixxir network.
Part II. Founders of the Internet of Value
When we talk about blockchain, we usually mention “value Internet”, and even equate blockchain with value Internet.
The value Internet is relative to the information Internet. The main function of information Internet is to let information spread on the Internet, and the way of spreading is: copying. The content of the Internet includes text, images, sound, video, data, programs and so on. The biggest characteristic of information Internet is “easy to copy, easy to spread, easy to tamper, and untraceable”, which makes online information more and more untrustworthy.
The blockchain-based Internet of value, on the other hand, is characterized by openness, transparency, non-tamperability and easy traceability, and builds a trust-based foundation network to enable efficient value transfer of digital assets on the Internet.
Many people think: the Internet of value is the inevitable direction of the development of the Internet of information. But in fact, as early as 1994, there was a discussion on whether the future development of the Internet should take the path of the value Internet or the path of the information Internet. And David Chaum is the proposer and adherent of the Value Internet.
I. The Proponent of the Value Internet
In 1994, at the first CERN conference in Geneva, Chaum was the first technologist to deliver a keynote speech in which he proposed that the primary application of the future Internet would be e-commerce and payments, with a focus on secure and private micro-payments, rather than mere derivatives of media such as television, radio, and newspapers. He argued that the commercial value of the Internet comes from payments. He said.
“You can pay for access to a database, buy software or newsletters via e-mail, play a computer game over the Internet, receive $5 a friend owes you, or just order a pizza. The possibilities are truly endless.”
Also at that conference, the second speaker, Tim Berners-Lee (the creator of the world’s first Web site, known as the “father of the Internet”), argued that the future of the Internet should be built on the http protocol, that it should be a network with a huge amount of information, and that all business models should be based on information and information, as with television and radio. All business models should be based on information and content, such as paid advertising, just like TV and radio.
Today, the Internet has indeed developed according to Dr. Tim’s design path to become the air everyone can’t live without. However, the current proliferation of content, privacy abuse, advertising, rampant piracy, and fraud that the Internet has encountered has become an inevitable reality. As blockchain stirs up visions of the Internet of value, we find that a lone cryptographer, standing on a podium 30 years ago, has told people 30 years from today.
All this has to make many people wonder if David Chaum is a time traveler.
II. Founding DigiCash and launching the world’s first digital currency, eCash
David Chaum is not only a great cryptographer with the insight and talent to see what will happen decades from now. He is also an entrepreneur who has put his theories into practice and has achieved great success.
In 1990, David Chaum founded DigiCash, a company based in Amsterdam, Netherlands, where Chaum lived for several years, specializing in the development and promotion of digital currencies and payment systems. The digital cash system eCash, born in 1993, was an instant hit and the money in the system was called “CyberBucks”. eCash was mainly based on the blind signature technology invented by Chaum. Since electronic payments were just emerging, many companies believed that the future of the Internet should support micro-payments first and foremost, and since DigiCash’s technology had few competitors, it quickly became a market favorite, partnering with a large number of well-known institutions and companies.
In 1995 with Mark Twain Bank in St. Louis.
with Deutsche Bank in 1996, followed by Credit Suisse, Advance Australia, Norges Bank and Bank Austria, among others.
A $40 million investment by Visa (reportedly).
Negotiating a partnership with Netscape to build eCash into Netscape, then the most popular web browser.
Negotiating a partnership with Bill Gates to build eCash into the Windows 95 operating system, which had a virtual monopoly on the world.
Michael Nash from Visa as CEO in 1996
In 1996, Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of the famous MIT Media Lab (who is known worldwide for his book “Digital Survival” and is also widely known in China for being the mentor and angel investor of Sohu founder Zhang Chaoyang), was appointed as the chairman of the board
But unfortunately, due to some internal and external reasons, eventually, DigiCash and eCash had to declare bankruptcy in 1999.
Regardless, eCash is still an important milestone in the history of digital currencies, and DigiCash was a mecca for all cryptography enthusiasts and cyberpunks at the time, where almost half of the leaders who influence the blockchain world today came out. It was truly the “West Point Academy” of the global crypto industry
More importantly, Satoshi Nakamoto and the Cyberpunks later learned from the successes and failures of eCash when they designed Bitcoin, and created it a decade later. As a result, David Chaum is globally recognized as the godfather of digital currency, and some even call him the father of the blockchain.
Multiparty ComputationMPC Key Enabler
Multiparty Computation was first proposed and founded by Turing Award winner Yao Chi-chi in the 1980s. Blockchain combined with Multiparty Computation can realize the demand of data “available but not visible, used according to the specified usage and amount”, which can realize data privacy protection, data verification, joint computing, joint computing, joint computing and joint computing. It can achieve data privacy protection, data verification, data verification, joint calculation, joint modeling and other functions, which is an important guarantee for the application of blockchain technology on the ground.
In the early 1990s, Jom began to study multi-party computing and published several papers of great significance in the academic field.
Since multiparty computing is highly valued by cryptographers worldwide, Jom organized a two-week cryptography course at the CWI in Amsterdam in 1994. Many of the world’s leading cryptographers started with this course. After the training course, some participants and lecturers continued their work as members of the CWI cryptography group, while others returned to their respective schools to further their work.
IV. Anti-Quantum Blockchain-Praxxis
One day in October 2019, after Google announced that it had built the first quantum computer capable of surpassing the capabilities of today’s most powerful supercomputers. David Chaum, a cryptographer with an insight ahead of his time, sat back and with his years of knowledge of the pulse of technology development, he believes that in the near future, quantum computing will certainly have a great impact on today’s blockchain technology, digital currency and even finance, military and politics. If we do not take proactive precautions against quantum computers now and design blockchains that are quantum resistant, the future will be full of risks.
So he launched and personally designed the Praxxis project, which aims to create the first quantum-secure and truly decentralized network that provides a global-scale payment system with a range of quantum-resistant digital currencies and digital assets. The pioneering blockchain network uses the Hash-based one-time signature algorithm WOTS+, which has good and secure quantum-resistant performance, and uses the blockchain’s incentive mechanism to involve a large number of nodes in the quantum-resistant computation process to complete the quantum-resistant WOTS+ signature.
The significance of this project is: for the first time, a large number of nodes compute together to complete the anti-quantum signature, which provides all-round protection for digital signature security and data privacy security in the post-quantum era of mankind. For the control of this technical implementation route, few people have the ability and qualifications to promote it, except David Chaum.
After that, he merged the two previously mentioned projects elixxir and praxxis, further building the quantum-resistant blockchain on the privacy network to form a secure network xxnetwork that is almost unbreakable in the post-quantum era
Part III. David Chaum and his friends
In the past 40 years, David Chaum has established good friendships with governments, academics, cryptographers, and cyberpunks.
Based on online information, the author has compiled the following to give us a slight insight into Chaum’s circle of friends.
(Hal Finney: cryptographer, inventor of proof of workload, significant contributor to Bitcoin, contributor to the Bitcoin code, recipient of the first transfer on the Bitcoin chain. Worked at DigiCash)
(Adam Back: Inventor of HashCash, founder of Blockstream, close friend of David)
(Eric Hughes: cyberpunk originator, drafter of the Cyberpunk Manifesto, former intern at DigiCash)
(Zooko Wilcox: Founder and CEO of Big Zero Coin ZCash, previously worked for DigiCash)
(Nick Szabo: father of “smart contracts”, inventor of BitGold, professor of law, intern at DigiCash)
(Bram Cohen: founder of BT, founder of Chia, attended DigiCash summer camp)
(Len Sassaman: founder of Mixmaster, considered one of the most likely Satoshi Nakamoto, Chaum is his PhD advisor)
Attachment: David Chaum’s published papers and achievements
Untraceable Electronic Mail, Return Addresses, and Digital Pseudonyms” (1979)
Blind Signatures for Untraceable payments (1982)
Computer Systems Built, Maintained, and Trusted by Groups of Mutual Suspicion (1982)
Security Without ID – Making the Boss Obsolete (1985)
Group Signatures (1991)
MULTIPARTY COMPUTATIONS ENSURING PRlVACY OF EACH PARTY’S INPUT AND CORRECTNESS OF THE RESULT
The Spymasters Double Agent Problem: Multiparty Computations Secure Unconditionally from Minorities and Cryptographically from Majorities
‘cMix: Mixing with Minimal Real-Time Asymmetric Cryptographic Operations’ (2016)
Secret-Ballot Receipts: True Voter-Verifiable Elections
How to Issue a Central Bank Digital Currency, (2021, White Paper on Central Bank Digital Currency drafted for the Swiss Central Bank)
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