There is a notion that blockchains can only get as decentralized as the Internet itself. Right now, everyone uses the traditional version of the Internet that was invented a long time ago. But, what if things change and the boundless Internet becomes not as centralized as it is right now? This would allow more privacy, safety, speed, and efficiency. But, is it even possible to make the Internet on a blockchain?
The Internet Computer network claims to be one such blockchain. The problem of the infinite scalability that was unmet by many competitors, they addressed by introducing a state-of-the-art network architecture. Let’s dive right in.
The Internet Computer is a blockchain that runs at web speed with unbounded capacity.
The ICP strives to replace not just the application layer but the whole internet infrastructure. Initially, the concept of the “world computer” was introduced by Ethereum. The ICP is taking the idea further but not as a competitor to Ethereum. In fact, both these blockchains, as well as any other ones, can complement each other and become stronger together.
Experts claim that the ICP is the fastest blockchain and has numerous other unique benefits that make its technology the best suited for building web3 and the metaverse.
DFINITY foundation tends to say that a true metaverse is only possible on ICP. Since even Facebook is rebranding to Meta, it is fair to suggest that the overarching principle of metaverse has all chances to integrate into our daily lives soon. And, technologically, the ICP is one of the ways to make it possible.
The ICP was created by computer scientist Dominic Williams. It’s a project of the Swiss nonprofit organization called DFINITY.
In February 2018 DFINITY raised $61 million from Andreesen Horowitz and Polychain Capital as the foundation announced their plans for the Internet Computer. They also raised another $102 million in the next funding round.
On May 7th 2021, the Internet Computer mainnet was officially launched. A few days later, their native token ICP was issued and went live on crypto exchanges.
The ICP Roadmap
DFINITY foundation accepts technical contribution proposals from the network participants. After the proposal is released, it is about to go through the voting process. If accepted, this proposal is going to come to life.
Here are some of the latest proposals that are already being implemented:
- Integration with Bitcoin and Ethereum. With the help of these upgrades, the ICP smart contracts will directly operate on the Bitcoin and Ethereum chains. The ICP smart contracts will work from the Internet browser, making it much easier to work with the good old BTC and ETH wallets. Users will be able to authenticate themselves with fingerprints or face recognition and send the coins directly to each other. No need to manage keys anymore!
- As a prerequisite to the Ethereum integration, elliptic curve digital signatures are at the stage of development by the ICP’s R&D team. The ICP smart contracts are known for using the single public key for approving multiple transactions, which is soon going to be available via ECDSA. The corresponding secret key will be threshold-shared among the nodes of the subnet.
- Governance system for dApps. This initiative is at the voting stage right now. It will allow developers to create their own permissionless tokenized governance systems.
ICP is built on top of the physical hardware infrastructure. The software part is their own proprietary language called Motoko.
The ICP data centers located all around the world contain the traditional blockchain nodes, led by independent node operators. Node operators pay data centers to host their nodes. In turn, they receive rewards for contributing computing capacity and hosting services to the ICP. Each node can be distributed across a few data centers.
On a higher level, chains of nodes create subnets that are connected via Chain Key cryptography.
Changes to the network are managed through the ICP governance system called the Network Nervous System (NNS).
The NNS oversees:
- Allows participation of certain data center providers
- Accepts the number, location, and ownership of the nodes
- Assigns nodes to subnets
- Manages upgrades and voting proposals
- Accepts modifications to the ICP protocol
In order to vote on the proposals, a shareholder has to lock the ICP tokens in the so-called neurons. Neurons are the ICP tokens that are withdrawn from the active movement within blockchain i.e. they cannot be exchanged for a certain period of time. The voting power is directly proportional to the amount of neurons locked.
ICP is a native utility, store of value, and governance token on the ICP network.
Utility – ICP tokens are distributed in the form of rewards for those participants running a node, voting, and doing other miscellaneous activities.
Governance – participants can lock ICP tokens in neurons and vote for various initiatives, thus also receiving rewards.
Store of Value – ICP tokens can also be converted into cycles for development. Developers pay with cycles for computational resource consumption.
According to Coinmarketcap,
Genesis Initial State Token Allocations
Early contributors: 9.50%
Seed donations: 24.72%
Strategic partnerships: 3.79%
Community airdrop: 0.80%
Initial community and developer grants: 0.48%
Node operators: 0.22%
Internet Computer Association: 4.26%
Team members: 18.00%
Advisors and other third-party token holders: 2.40%
DFINITY Foundation: 23.86%
Circulating supply depends on the market dynamics.
The Internet Computer has a few significant advantages that are hard to beat: it’s infinitely scalable, fast, interoperable, and economically efficient. It brings the world’s community one step closer to a dream of the metaverse becoming reality. A world where advanced technology enhances tangible experiences, while important things like privacy and safety are preserved.
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