The Bitcoin network is in a state of flux with the Taproot soft fork upgrade and SegWit2x. These two proposals have led to competing visions for how bitcoin should function, each proposing different changes that will cause some users to migrate away from one implementation or the other. The most recent move by developer Jeff Garzik was an extension on his original proposal called UASF-Segwit2x, which would require every node operator to be running software according it’s own rules rather than automatically accepting any new block where implied BIP149 signaling occurs. It is unclear what this change will mean in terms of adoption and progress in regards to scaling solutions like Lightning Network
The “schnorr/taproot” is a soft fork upgrade that was proposed by Taproot. It has been accepted by the Bitcoin network.
Between blocks 709,488 and 709,632, the Bitcoin (BTC) network successfully implemented the Taproot soft fork, according to a 90 percent lock-in consensus among miners and mining pools. The achievement marks the first substantial improvement for Bitcoin since August 2017, when the Lightning Network and Segregated Witness, Bitcoin’s key layer-two solutions, were launched (SegWit).
The Taproot patch intends to increase the Bitcoin network’s scripting capabilities and privacy. The soft fork does this by introducing the Merkelized Abstract Syntax Tree idea (MAST). According to Hampus Sjöberg, a well-known Bitcoin engineer, a Taproot-dedicated website:
“By only releasing the necessary sections of the contract while spending, [MAST] may help make smart contracts more efficient and private.”
Sjöberg told Cointelegraph that Taproot activation demonstrates that Bitcoin can do network upgrades again, which is critical for the Bitcoin network’s long-term viability. “That, I believe, is the biggest victory,” he continued.
Sjöberg, who is also the creator of the Blixt Wallet Bitcoin Lightning wallet, feels that the Taproot update enables for the exploration of off-chain capabilities while without putting undue strain on the Bitcoin network’s nodes.
Taproot is a softfork that has been around for 100 years.
In the long term, combining all contracts and use-cases under a single transaction type called “Pay to Taproot” would result in a more fungible and resilient blockchain.
This is how it’s done. This is how a blockchain is created.
Hampus Sjöberg (@hampus s) (@hampus s) (@hampus s) (@hampus s) (@hampus s) 3 June 2021
Sjöberg also feels that MAST may assist enhance the privacy of earlier Lightning Network implementations “if the Lightning implementations chose to incorporate Taproot.” At the LN Summit 2021 in Zurich, Switzerland, the developers of the different Lightning Network node implementations gathered only a few weeks ago to examine prospective upgrade paths:
“At the meeting, one of the topics addressed was whether it’s better to update Lightning in incremental steps or as a single package.”
Furthermore, Sjöberg highlighted how, using Taproot for the Lightning Network, payment channels may be rendered indistinguishable from conventional transactions in typical circumstances:
“It’s impossible to identify whether a Taproot transaction is a regular payment or a Lightning channel transaction.” This is critical for Bitcoin’s fungibility and consequently censorship resistance.”
Speedy Trial, a soft fork deployment strategy that needs 90 percent of miners to notify the upgrade’s deployment, is credited with Taproot’s successful activation. “The signaling mechanism operates in periods of 2016 blocks,” Sjöberg explains, “which means that during a 2016 block period, 90 percent, or 1815, of the 2016 blocks must signal for readiness.”
In June 2021, Bitcoin miners obtained a 90% consensus for the first time, and Sjöberg announced it on Twitter:
WE ARE NOW LOCKED IN! #Taproot #Bitcoin
@TheGuySwann’s video! pic.twitter.com/YFLMTenWW0 https://t.co/rCUp5VNCBX pic.twitter.com/YFLMTenWW0
Hampus Sjöberg (@hampus s) (@hampus s) (@hampus s) (@hampus s) (@hampus s) 12th of June, 2021
The Taproot update does, however, signal the end of Speedy Trial deployments, and future Bitcoin network improvements will need the use of new soft fork deployment mechanisms. “Taproot offers up a whole new universe of possibilities, but the first thing I’d want to see is a “MuSig 2″ transaction,” says the author. Sjöberg offered the following advice to other Bitcoin developers:
“While nothing in Bitcoin should be taken for granted, I personally want to see “Cross-Input Signature Aggregation” as a future soft fork for Bitcoin.”
Bitcoin Lightning nodes and channels reach all-time highs
The Bitcoin network has experienced multiple community-driven hard and soft forks in its almost 13-year history. While the Taproot update has yet to demonstrate its benefits in the long run, the Lightning Network continues to grow.
Since January 2021, the Lightning Network has seen a 160 percent growth in the number of nodes and a 170 percent increase in the number of channels, according to data released on Sept. 28.
Prior to the Taproot soft split, Bitcoin’s network capacity was at an all-time high of 3,220 BTC, approximately worth $210 million, on Nov. 11.
The “allied payment network bitcoin” is a soft fork that was introduced to the Bitcoin network. The upgrade allows for more transactions to be processed on the Bitcoin network, which will increase its speed.
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