No, SMTs will not solve anything for the base-layer. In regards to where they are: they will be worked on soon AFAIK.

Making a black/white remark: Our witnesses and large stakeholders valued a 'better' image engine much much more than SMT's. What was wrong with the image engine? It worked at Steem. Sorry for this statement: My frustration on what we not getting (SMT), more insights into what our developers are doing, large amounts of funds from the HIVE proposal system, going to a very few individuals, and the 'feeling' one can only get something funded when being part of some 'inner circle'.

It's more important for scalability to fix fundamental problems first, than adding new features. Also, the image engine had nothing to do with the blockchain. AFAIK, it was another team working on that, than those working on the core-code.

It's more important for scalability to fix fundamental problems first, than adding new features

This is a very generic statement to which I can only agree to. But who tells us what the fundamental problems are? That said, quite interesting that our own witnesses don't seem to know who is working on what. Major flaw in the whole setup of HIVE. De-centralisation doesn't mean one shall work in silence. Actually, de-centralisation means more openness, transparency and communication with the community on what is ongoing.

That said, wrt to your own topic of post, SMT we MUST have for HIVE to be able to survive. SMT will support further testing of social networks and rewards. SMT will allow HIVE tokens to not be distributed to content creators. When we would remove HIVE rewards for content before we get SMT, ie before we can move the current blogging services reward mechanism to a SMT, whole of HIVE community will fall apart as quickly as one blink of an eye. Following that, HIVE will further drop on the scale of market sizes of crypto tokens. That is at least what my logic tells me.