Ethereum update, "Metropolis" Expected for September Release
After being pushed back for quite some time due to the DAO hack, developers announced that the highly anticipated Ethereum update “Metropolis” is undergoing testing and is expected to be released by the end of September. This update introduces a variety of new changes and features to the Ethereum network that the community has been looking forward to. Below, I will give a brief description of three key features being rolled out with Metropolis.
With help from the Zcash team, Ethereum is implementing zk-SNARKS or “Zero knowledge proofs. Zero knowledge proofs allow you to prove things about encrypted data without knowing what that data is. Phase one of Metropolis will introduce the base infrastructure for this technology, aiming to one day achieve full transaction privacy and anonymity. This is a big step in the right direction for Ethereum considering many businesses have been reluctant to work with blockchain technology because of the publicness of open ledger. This will open a door for these businesses to utilize the benefits that Ethereum has to offer.
Currently Ethereum uses a “proof of work” algorithm to validate transactions and generate new blocks for the ecosystem in a process called mining. Mining requires a large amount of energy and computational power to sustain which will be extremely inefficient when the network reaches its full potential. In Metropolis, developers introduce a new method of consensus called Casper or “proof of stake” that will remove that inefficiency. The Casper protocol allows any stakeholder to put up a
bond in order to participate in the consensus process. This offers an incentive for a stakeholder to produce valid results or else their bond will be forfeited, since the number of computations needed from mining will diminish, than the electric cost needed to run the network will decrease as well.
Account abstraction will allow for users to implement smart contracts involving their private keys in a way in which the security of that key will be less susceptible to computational hacking. Another part of account abstraction will allow for smart contracts to pay for the gas they need on their own, this should allow for more smart contract applications to be viable that were not viable economically in the past.