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The Quantum Countdown: Quantum Computing And The Future Of Distributed Ledger Encryption



Tuesday, 20 February 2018






85 Gresham St, London EC2R 7HE Map


Professor Michael Mainelli
Z/Yen Group
Maury Shenk
Managing Director
Lily Innovation
Bob McDowall
Cardano Foundation



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A report entitled “The Quantum Countdown: Quantum Computing And The Future Of Distributed Ledger Encryption”, another in a series of exciting projects in the programme, was launched by the Distributed Futures research programme on Tuesday, 20 February. The launch was held from 08:45 - 10.45, where we presented a summary of the problems facing Smart Ledgers and potential solutions.

Smart Ledgers are based on a combination of mutual distributed ledgers (aka blockchain: multi-organisational databases with a super audit trail) with embedded programming and sensing, thus permitting semi-intelligent, autonomous transactions. Smart Ledgers are touted as a technology for fair play in a globalised world. There are numerous projects building trade systems using this technology with announcements from governments, shipping firms, large IT firms, and the like. The research is intended to inform policy makers and business people making decisions about moving towards these systems.

This report is about a major threat to the security of Smart Ledgers and other systems from quantum computing. If, and when, large-scale quantum computers become available, there is a concern that such computers would be able to break the security of widely-used public key cryptography, which allows remote parties to communicate securely and authenticate transactions and data without sharing a secret key in advance. Fortunately, there are good solutions to this problem, and better ones are emerging. The hard questions for individual computer system operators involve when and how to address the problem, given its uncertain timing and the evolving solutions. The report seeks to explain the problem in detail for both non-technical and technical readers, starting with the essentials of cryptography, quantum computing, and how quantum computing threatens public key cryptography. It then considers the available solutions to the problem, and provides frameworks for deciding when and how to respond to it.


Presentation Slides (Click Here)  

Report (Click Here)


The Quantum Countdown: Quantum Computing And The Future Of Distributed Ledger Encryption

Date : Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Time : 08:45 to 10:45

Venue : 85 Gresham Street, London, EC2R 7HE



  • 08:45 - 09:00 Registration opens
  • 09:00 - 09:05 Welcome by Bob McDowall, Special Advisor, Cardano Foundation 
  • 09:05 - 09:30 Introduction & Background by Michael Mainelli, Executive Chairman, Z/Yen Group
  • 09:30 - 10:00 The Quantum Countdown: Walkthrough by Maury Shenk Managing Director, Lily Innovation
  • 10:00 - 10:40 Panel Discussion and Q&A
  • 10:40 - 10:45 Summary
  • 10:45 - Formal Close


Related Publications

"The Future: From Plastics To Quantum Computing", Strategy, January 1999.

"The Potential Impact Of Quantum Computing", Croner Business Networks Briefing, November 1998.