The bitcoin network will officially experience the taproot soft fork. The fork is meant to upgrade the scripting capabilities and network privacy using the Merkelized Abstract Syntax Tree (MAST) concept. The fork was effected due to a 90% lock-in consensus from miners and mining pools between blocks 709,488 and 709,632.
This is the second-ever upgrade since August 2017 that made bitcoin introduce a two-layer solution SegWit and the Lightning network. As for the taproot upgrade, it aims to improve the scripting and privacy of the bitcoin network. This will only be possible using the Merkelized Abstract Syntax Tree (MAST) concept.
According to Hampus Sjöberg, a bitcoin developer, MAST was started to make smart contracts efficient and private by only disclosing the relevant elements of the contract when spending.
Hampus highlighted that Taproot activation would upgrade Bitcoin’s network, which is vital for the network’s sustainability. According to him, the upgrade will open possibilities for off-chain capabilities not to put much burden on bitcoin nodes of the network.
Hampus, a bitcoin lightning wallet developer, MAST will improve the older Lightning Network through more privacy with Taproot. In the recent LN Summit 2021 in Switzerland, there were discussions on the possible upgrades. One of the conversations was on the upgrade path on whether to do it as one big package or do it in small bits. They also talked about payment channels as it is hard to distinguish if a taproot transaction is a typical payment or is from a lightning channel. This helps in stre4ngthening the fungibility and censorship resistance of bitcoin.
For Taproot to be activated, 90% of the miners have to signal the deployment of the upgrade. The signaling method can only work for 2016 blocks, indicating that 1815 or 2016 blocks need to signal readiness.
The Taproot upgrade officially marks the end of a speedy trial deployment though any other future upgrade will need a soft fork deployment method. Even with several hard and soft forks but the lightning network will move to higher heights.
As of September 28, there was a 160% increase in the number of nodes in a year.
Image by Marco Verch Professional from Flickr.
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