Obsolete Mining Hardware Could be Used for Zero Knowledge Proofs
Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of the distributed Blockchain-computing platform, Ethereum, has had a lot to say in recent weeks. On April 25, Buterin appeared on The Shitcoin Dot Com Show to discuss the launch of Ethereum 2.0.
During the interview, Vitalik was asked what people should do with their Ethereum miners once the network switches from its current consensus algorithm to a model where this specialized hardware is no longer required. Currently, Ethereum employs a custom version of Proof-of-Work, called Ethash. This system requires vast amounts of computing resources to validate new blocks on the Ethereum blockchain. An early milestone on Ethereum 2.0’s roadmap is a migration to Proof-of-Stake — a competing consensus algorithm that allows users to validate blocks using their own accumulated wealth on the network.
In response to how he’d like to see obsolete mining hardware used, Vitalik revealed:
“This is definitely not going to get 100% of the miners, you might get a few percent at most, but: Zero Knowledge Proofs.”
The power of sharing proof without knowledge
Zero Knowledge Proofs, or ZKPs, are an information sharing protocol. They allow two parties to share with each other that they know a piece of information, without actually revealing what the information is.
In the context of Blockchain technology, zero proof transactions are useful for users who wish to maintain a higher level of anonymity. Projects like Zcash utilize a unique iteration of ZKPs, called zk-SNARKS, that allow users to send fully encrypted transactions natively, while remaining verifiable under the network’s consensus rules.
Buterin, who has often been vocal about his love for ZKPs, went on to say that there has been, “this kind of huge, quiet technology revolution happening with zero-knowledge proofs,” going on to elaborate that:
“They’re very powerful. First of all, they give you a lot of privacy. Second they give you a lot of scalability, because instead of verifying a really big thing, you just have to verify a really small proof. You can use them to verify the validity of things, you could potentially use them to replace Merkle trees; cut the Merkle tree branches and witnesses down from hundreds of kilobytes to like a couple of kilobytes, and all of these nice things.”
Exciting times in Ethereumland
Discussing what Vitalik refers to as “Ethereumland”, the 26 year-old developer appeared to have little apprehension when it comes to the Ethereum network’s most significant update since it’s original launch in 2015. He admitted:
“It’s definitely a bit less nerve-racking than the first time, just because I’ve been through the whole thing before. Definitely nervous with anticipation, but also just very excited to see all of this stuff finally go live.”
“It’s important to remember that up until very recently, ETH 2.0 was basically an idea and a dream, as far as most people could tell.”
While Ethereum 2.0’s release date has not yet been announced, Prysmatic Labs publicly launched the first ETH2.0 test net, called Topaz, on April 18. Speaking candidly about the occasion, Vitalik admitted “It’s definitely a big milestone for us.”
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