One of the most important sentiments behind the convergence of various groups on cryptocurrencies is the premium people increasingly place on privacy in the digital world.
From moves against government surveillance programs to the continued reluctance of companies to sell user data, it is evident that the arguments, once detailed by cypherpunks in the early 1990s, touting crypto as the last vestige of hope. against dystopian level surveillance, materialize.
A separate development that has been bolstered by Bitcoin’s success amid growing digital privacy concerns is zero-knowledge evidence (ZKP)-derived privacy preservation technologies. Several cryptocurrencies integrate zk-SNARK directly into their protocols (for example, ZCash), cutting off any connection between senders, recipients and amounts transferred over a public network.
The technology has promising implications, but like all emerging technologies, it needs to undergo some improvements before it can be widely adopted and implemented.
The main criticisms of ZKPs, if any, so far are that they are cumbersome to embed into a protocol, resulting in blockchain bloat, and requiring the dreaded “trust setup” – not to mention that they are very sophisticated and esoteric. However, we are already seeing smart innovations from entities at the forefront of growth and affordability of a concept as powerful as ZKPs.
Projects that already implement zk-SNARKs move away from the trust configuration models of zk-SNARK and improve on some of their previous limitations.
For example, ZeroCoin’s Sigma protocol removes the trust configuration from its old protocol, ZCash’s Sapling creates much more efficient zk-SNARK transactions, and the Coda protocol deploys blockchains of constant size with evidence that preserves privacy.
And some projects, like Suterusu, merge efficient zk-SNARK constructs without reliable setup and constant size proofs, providing a useful lens to assess the progress of zk-SNARK to foster better digital privacy.
Converge on confidentiality and interoperability
At the heart of much of the work going on with zk-SNARKs, evaluating their actual applications and how they can be adapted to work without overly complex user interfaces and cumbersome execution that creates friction with users. Interestingly, this push to adapt privacy technology for mainstream ease of use has come at the same time as the narrative of blockchain and digital asset interoperability is gaining momentum.
Ernst & Young’s exploration and development of zk-SNARK with Nightfall is a prime example of the convergence between privacy and interoperability.
For its part, Suterusu has developed its own zk-SNARK scheme, called ZK-ConSNARK, for constant size zk-SNARKs without trusted configuration, compatible with a virtual machine (VM) allowing developers to create and deploy blockchains. and applications using technology. . Add cross-chain swap functionality using zk-ConSNARKs, and it’s easy to see the kind of potential that can develop when developers have access to more refined code repositories like Nightfall, Coda, and Suterusu. .
Suterusu’s virtual machine, SuterVM, is also interesting for another reason. The VM contains built-in technical modules allowing developers to launch payment applications without having to have a deep understanding of the esoteric mathematics behind zk-SNARKs. The desire to hide much of the underlying complexity is reflected in much of the rest of the ongoing trends in the crypto industry and, ultimately, is the optimal path to adoption by the big one. public.
Many advanced and popular technologies, like the Internet itself, have undergone a similar transition. And the underlying current driving the most attractive applications of zk-SNARKs is their compatibility with interoperable frameworks for the exchange of financial assets and payment networks.
Suterusu envisions a Cambrian explosion of anonymous assets in the cryptocurrency ecosystem, particularly cross-chain assets that preserve privacy. And SuterVM provides unique flexibility for developers to build applications that also harness the underlying power of zk-ConSNARK – developers can build transactions using a UTXO model or a MimbleWimble-like schema where it there are no addresses.
Developers can invoke Suterusu’s Anonymous Multi-Hop Locks (AMHL), which they detail as private payment channels for cross-chain asset exchanges. They are also building a scriptless module for AMHLs because, according to their whitepaper, they are currently only compatible with full Turing platforms like Ethereum.
Such developments hold promise for inclusion in modern regulatory developments in certain regions of the world (i.e. GDPR in Europe), where the privacy of user data is becoming a predominant topic in public discourse. But the applications of zk-SNARKs, and more specifically zk-ConSNARKs, are also much broader than strict data confidentiality for regulatory congruence.
Explore zk-ConSNARKs apps and advanced privacy
The constant size proofs for zk-SNARKS have huge advantages over the first iterations of zk-SNARK which require considerable time and heavy compute resources to deploy. Imagine advanced privacy implementations readily available in mobile devices to create zk-ConSNARKs or applications that use them to facilitate financial exchanges or communicate encrypted messages.
The barrier to adopting better privacy-preserving applications is primarily twofold: the lack of familiarity with the technology that improves privacy, and the general ignorance of the pervasive extent of privacy intrusions today. Fostering more efficient and “trustless” zk-SNARK builds will only serve to make the technology more attractive to developers looking to take advantage of a boom in what is inevitably becoming a major trend – better privacy.
With privacy technology running in the background, the barrier for mainstream users to transition to more privacy-conscious apps is drastically reduced.
Suterusu cites how zk-ConSNARKs can span everything from anonymous web-based identity models to integrated, decentralized liquidity pools for financial assets that are fully anonymous. The applications, however, encompass more than exchanges of financial assets or protections of user privacy – and extend into the business world.
One of the potential use cases cited by the team is even integrating zk-ConSNARK with centralized ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft. Stemming from rampant accusations of ridesharing price manipulation, companies like Uber could potentially exonerate themselves from claims of direct price manipulation via an anonymous attestation of their algorithmic transparency that does not expose the basic logic – which is the precious thing. trade secret of a private company.
The application of zk-SNARKs and zk-ConSNARKs can effectively translate into any situation whenever there is a conflict between transparency and confidentiality – formerly a mutually exclusive relationship that relates to the power of ZKPs .
There is palpable excitement surrounding the future potential of ZKPs and their various implementations. We are perhaps witnessing the very beginning of a fierce battle between digital surveillance and crypto innovation, where the stakes have never been higher.
Bitcoin has touched on meaningful conversations about financial privacy, and now many other projects are at the forefront of advanced methods to extend that privacy to other aspects of digital life.
It is important to remember that privacy is a right to reveal oneself, not to be arbitrarily exposed to the benefits of a third party.
In a digital age where privacy is continually violated, ZKPs and the many advancing engineering projects are a refreshing respite from the headlines of the data scandals perpetrated and experienced by some of the companies and companies. most famous governments in the world.