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Zero Knowledge Layer 2 and the Taproot Wizards: Charting Bitcoin's Next Move (Part 2 of 2)

Lincoln Murr

Summary: Check out part 1, where we look at the Bitcoin cultural shift, here! As we previously discussed, Bitcoin is amid a cultural shift with wide-ranging consequences. Not only are NFTs and tokens being minted on the blockchain, but some are proposing an even more bold and radical measure: creating a zero-knowledge Layer 2 on Bitcoin. ...

Check out part 1, where we look at the Bitcoin cultural shift, here!

As we previously discussed, Bitcoin is amid a cultural shift with wide-ranging consequences. Not only are NFTs and tokens being minted on the blockchain, but some are proposing an even more bold and radical measure: creating a zero-knowledge Layer 2 on Bitcoin. Let’s dive into the Taproot Wizards community spearheading this movement, what the implementation could look like, and what the most likely outcome is.

The Taproot Wizards community is a group of Bitcoin enthusiasts, developers, and artists passionate about making Bitcoin more magical and fun. They are inspired by the original Bitcoin Wizard meme, created by mavensbot in 2013 and became a viral sensation among Bitcoiners. The meme featured a simple drawing of a wizard with a Bitcoin logo on his hat and the words “Magic Internet Money - Join Us” below it. The meme captured the spirit of Bitcoin’s early days when it was still a niche and experimental technology that promised to revolutionize the world of money.

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On February 1, 2023, founder Udi Wertheimer got the project off to a hot start when he revealed Taproot Wizards to the world by creating the biggest block and transaction ever seen on Bitcoin. In collaboration with mining company Luxor, a 4MB-sized image of the Bitcoin Wizard was minted as an Ordinal fully on-chain, a size so close to the theoretical limit that many thought was unachievable.

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Wertheimer also created a collection of 10,000 unique wizard NFTs on the Bitcoin blockchain using the Ordinals protocol. Each wizard has its traits, attributes, and backstory, some of which are based on historical figures or events in the Bitcoin community. Community members can get the chance to acquire a wizard by completing Wizard School, an online experience that teaches users about Bitcoin and wizardhood. The school requires users to do a series of quests related to Bitcoin and the community, such as making a transaction on the Lightning Network or posting a video of themselves dressed as wizards in a body of water. 

Along with mixing fun and general Bitcoin education, the Wizards have been promoting a much loftier goal: paving the cultural and technical path for Bitcoin to adopt a zero-knowledge Layer 2 solution. Zero-knowledge proofs are cryptographic techniques that allow users to prove the validity of their transactions or computations without revealing any details about them. This can greatly enhance the privacy, scalability, and efficiency of blockchain networks, as users can verify large amounts of data with small proofs that can be checked quickly.

The second member of the Taproot Wizards project, Eric Wall, is an advisor at StarkWare. This company specializes in developing zero-knowledge proof systems for various applications, such as decentralized exchanges, gaming platforms, and identity verification. Their zk-STARK technology is considered one of the most advanced and secure forms of zero-knowledge proofs, as it does not rely on any trusted setup or cryptographic assumptions. StarkWare has already implemented zk-STARKs on Ethereum, powering several layer-2 scaling solutions such as StarkEx and StarkNet. 

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The Wizards argue that Bitcoin’s declining block rewards and need for more fees to incentivize miners to uphold the network require a solution. A Layer 2 would not only provide greater opportunities for value accrual and activity to take place on Bitcoin, but it would also create a thriving ecosystem strengthened through high transaction fees. StarkWare’s solutions seem ideal since they are pure cryptography and do not stray from Satoshi’s vision of creating trustless digital money.

The main obstacle to a zero-knowledge Bitcoin rollup’s adoption is that it would require an upgrade to the Bitcoin network, meaning that most community members would have to agree. This is both the first and last step to making it possible to bring a Layer 2, possibly even one that is EVM-compatible, to Bitcoin and represents a, if not the goal of the Taproot Wizards.

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With the Bitcoin community at an inflection point, the Taproot Wizards are representing a march forward toward technological advancement and a trustless Bitcoin ecosystem. Their use of memes and fun to educate about important topics has proven successful thus far, and their connections to StarkWare mean that a zero-knowledge rollup likely has deep support. Whether or not the Bitcoin rollup becomes a reality remains to be seen, but it is certainly time to keep a close eye on Bitcoin.

By Lincoln Murr

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