Zero-knowledge proofs (ZK-proofs) could alleviate concerns about privacy and truth in a world increasingly concerned about the exploitation of personal data. While ZK-proofs have already been used in the cryptocurrency and blockchain sector to make transactions faster and cheaper, their potential applications go far beyond that. They could be used to convince banks of a person’s income without revealing the actual income, or to prove residency or citizenship without disclosing personal details. ZK-proofs could also help combat fake news by providing proof of the source of news articles.
ZK-proofs are seen by some in the cryptographic community as a potential weapon against false information and AI-altered documents. They could help verify data and ensure its accuracy and origin. In the finance industry, ZK-proofs are expected to revolutionize the audit industry by providing proof-of-solvency protocols. This could have significant implications for businesses and the overall financial sector. However, the timeline for implementing ZK-proofs in various industries remains uncertain.
ZK-proofs are computationally complex but their core intuition is simple. They allow a party to prove that a computation was executed correctly without having to replicate the computation itself. Instead, only the proof needs to be verified, which requires fewer resources than re-executing the computation. This simplicity makes ZK-proofs flexible and applicable to various use cases.
One potential use case for ZK-proofs is in electronic voting systems, where they can add verifiability without revealing individual votes. However, there are challenges to overcome, such as the compromise of end-user devices and the need for a credible digital identity system. ZK-proofs alone cannot bootstrap e-voting, but they can be a powerful tool when combined with other technologies and trusted authorities.
Privacy concerns surrounding central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) can also be addressed using ZK-proofs. By incorporating ZK-proofs into CBDC tech stacks, privacy guarantees can be ensured. Several central banks, including those in the UK, Japan, and South Korea, are studying ZK-proof applications for CBDCs. However, ZK-proofs alone may not be sufficient, and privacy needs to be supported by regulation and education.
ZK-proofs can also be used to verify the origin and authenticity of AI-generated files, such as photos and documents. They can help combat fake news by demonstrating that a photo has not been altered significantly. Furthermore, ZK-proofs can help reduce the file size of digitally signed photos, making them more practical for online use.
Finally, the finance industry is expected to be the first major sector to benefit from ZK-proofs. The implementation of proof-of-solvency protocols using ZK-proofs can provide transparency and assurance to investors and regulators. Mexican cryptocurrency exchange Bitso has already announced a partnership with Proven to implement a proof-of-solvency solution based on ZK-proofs.
In conclusion, ZK-proofs have the potential to address privacy and truth concerns in various industries. While their development has been slow, recent advancements have made them applicable to a wide range of use cases. From electronic voting to finance and addressing fake news, ZK-proofs offer a promising solution in the battle for privacy and truth.