Apollo Foundation Claims it Can Upgrade its Blockchain Without a Hard Fork
The Apollo Foundation has announced that it has created a tool that can upgrade its blockchain without the need for a hard fork. According to Victor Konovalov, director of Apollo:
“This update will allow us to quickly and efficiently integrate smart contracts, as well as add new features to the blockchain. The Updater will allow streamlined updates into the existing blockchain model.”
Hard forks can be an arduous process. Most blockchains rely on consensus, which means that hard forks can last for days as the network waits for each node operator to upgrade their software and vote for the fork.
If disagreement is substantial enough, the fork can create a new coin. But although some hard forks are contentious, many are merely a routine upgrade.
Lots of Updates
Apollo expects to go through a lot of upgrades: it is aiming to become an “all in one” cryptocurrency. With this in mind, Apollo argues that it needs a way to rapidly add features. The coin initially began as a anonymity coin, but Apollo is continually adding other features, such as “voting, messaging, [and] marketplaces.”
The new update mechanism will also allow the Apollo team to make changes to block speed and protocol versions, and will enable the addition of smart contracts and sharding. In other words, Apollo’s new tool will allow the team to add features rapidly without enduring drawn-out hard forks.
Too Good To Be True?
Apollo claims that their system could have prevented the hard fork that resulted from changes in Bitcoin’s block size (presumably this refers to Bitcoin Cash). The Apollo team also argues that their upgrade system could prevent the hard fork that may result from Ethereum’s upcoming switch to Casper.
Apollo is correct that these changes are controversial. But although some hard forks may not be a painless process, advocates see them as a necessity. According to Phil Glazer on HackerNoon:
“Forks are open source and democratic in nature. Forks are regularly proposed, take place often, and … [allow] the community to evaluate and decide which ideas are most promising.”
Even Tezos, which has eschewed routine hard forks, would allow dissidents to fork the coin:
“We do not see [hard forks] as a good and reliable tool for routinely upgrading the ledger but, like revolutions, they do occasionally have their place in the toolbox, and their possibility serves to keep many actors honest.”
It is not clear how much control users have over Apollo. The coin is pre-mined, something that the crypto community is largely skeptical of, as it reduces community control over the cryptocurrency. Ultimately, Apollo has not acknowledged whether there is room for disagreement on their blockchain.
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