On-Chain Blockchain Update About to Commence for Tezos (XTZ) Called Athens A

  • The Athens A upgrade for the Tezos blockchain will take place on Wednesday.
  • Tezos will determine how to change the voting process in the future, based on the results of this on-chain governance.

The upcoming update for Tezos has been hotly debated for months, even undergoing three months of voting as token holders determine how to make it happen. Now, the Athens A proposal is finally ready to commence creating changes that are completely backwards incompatible to the network. The implementation is scheduled for Wednesday, May 29th.

This is the first proposal for upgrade that has ever gone through the new “self-amendment” process implemented by Tezos. This process allows bakers on the blockchain – which hold the same role as miners with Bitcoin or Ethereum – to stake their tokens in support of upgrade proposals. They are allowed to use the same staking method to go against an upgrade proposal as well. Presently, the proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain has an estimated value of over $1 billion.

Nomadic Labs, a developer group within the platform, initiated the on-chain process in February. When the process began, the project was still in its early days, making big news with this innovative approach. In March, the developer group initiated two proposals – Athens A and Athens B.

Each of the proposals discussed a reduction in the minimum tokens that a user needs to have to be considered a baker. This allotment, referred to as a roll size, would make a larger group of users into bakers, which means more interaction during voting on the Tezos blockchain. However, Athens A would require an increase to the gas limit of the blocks on the Tezos chain, which would make it easier to build on the platform with smart contracts.

The bakers took three months of deliberation to reach this point, though the final voting threshold has finally passed, making it possible to activate Athens A. The final vote included 46,000 rolls cast, which happened on Tuesday last week. Rather than selecting a specific date, the Athens A implementation will happen on block 458,752, which is expected to happen tomorrow.

The promotion period – which is the final voting phase for Tezos – required that at least 83.02% of all Tezos rolls be involved, and a supermajority was required to be in favor of Athens A activation for it to happen at all. Jacob Arluck from the Tocqueville Group, which is an entity funded by the Tezos Foundation that supports for-profit business development, commented that this is the highest voter turnout for:

“any system like this.”

Arluck added, “It’s not like MakerDAO or Aragon where a whale can just control everything easily…It’s not purely a bunch of whales voting in our system. It’s people voting on behalf of a very large number of people.”

Other blockchain projects have been plagued with “whale voters,” which are the voters that hold a high number of tokens. When these voters make decisions, it can sway an entire vote, which is exactly what the MakerDAO loan system has been dealing with over the last few weeks in a governance poll. Even though these polls do not actually create changes to the MakerDAO system, they create polling rounds at an executive level that could ultimately force the same group of token holders to activate or deny a change to the system.

Ultimately, the changes to these different networks are decided upon by token holders, which is a simple way to maintain a decentralized platform amongst users. Arluck points out that the big difference with the Tezos process is that the token holders either have to vote as the baker, or hand over their assets to a baker.

Speaking with CoinDesk, Arluck explained,

“In all these systems, it’s whoever is paying attention votes. In our system we just have groups of people who are always paying attention because they are baking. It solves the attention problem. It makes governance more scalable in terms of the number of people who can be represented in the system.”

Even the bakers that appear to hold up to 4% of the token supply are voting on behalf of multiple users, but users who delegate their funds can move those funds to other bakers if they disagree with the vote.

At this point, it is clear that Tezos hasn’t fully determined how to work the on-chain governance process, but they are making strong efforts to balance it. The way that the Athens voting process commenced will likely show Tezos how to handle these types of voting situations in the future.

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