Zero Knowledge Proofs and the Cusp of Applied Crypto

Abdullah Ghatasheh

If you are not reading the Not Boring Newsletter by Packy McCormick, it’s excellent, so go ahead and subscribe.

He has an incredible knack for diving into technologies just as they are gaining momentum. Recently, this means a lot of crypto-related stuff.

This week, Packy wrote about Zero Knowledge Proofs (ZKPs). Here’s a snippet,

We have to trust each other. We have to enter our credit card numbers into websites. We have to send our landlord our credit history. We have to give our bank our social security numbers. And it’s not just us as individuals: companies and institutions have to disclose sensitive information to each other all the time in order to run their businesses. Sharing information and accepting its insecurity is a necessary sacrifice in order for society as we know it to function.

But what if there was a way to conduct these interactions and transactions with the same levels of trust and certainty without sharing all of this data? Well, thanks to a tricky little bit of mathematics that even cryptographers refer to as “moon math,” this is possible. Enter: the zero-knowledge proof.

The implications of ZKPs are profound at scale. Imagine conducting business on the internet while maintaining control of your data and your privacy, no passwords necessary.

Packy also highlights the innovators who blazed the ZKP trail.

Back in the 1980s, a quarter-century before Satoshi Nakamoto published the Bitcoin White Paper, scientists at MIT built the ZKP model.

One of the scientists involved in this groundbreaking research is Silvio Macali who is the founder of Algorand, a proof-of-stake foundational blockchain tailored to decentralized finance applications.

Algorand is being applied to real-world applications like Six Clovers’ RAPID, a recently launched payment network leveraging features like ZKPs.

We are shifting from a world where blockchain applications are hypotheticals to a world where they are real, which is really cool.


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