Internet Computer is a proof-of-stake blockchain developed by DFINITY, a non-profit organization based in Zürich. The idea and start of research for this started in 2016. The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the Internet Computer is scale. While other layer 1 blockchains try to solve the problems of their forefather, Ethereum, such as scalability, affordability, and speed, Internet Computer solves the same problems, but its ambitions go far beyond those of other networks. While other blockchains want low-cost dApps, faster speed for swapping and trading coins, and a convenient ecosystem of financial applications, Internet Computer wants to conquer the whole world, wresting a place under the sun from Google, Facebook, and even Amazon. As the creator of the platform Dominic Williams describes it - “a paradigm shift that will change everything.”
There is no easy way to talk about Internet Computer, because behind this DFINITY creation there is a very complex technology with the Internet Computer Protocol (ICP) at its heart. However, we can point out three pillars on which the project stands - speed, scalability, and absolute decentralization.
At the very base of this complex chain are data centers - independent centers that hold technical equipment (hardware nodes). One data center can store a number of hardware nodes. Those data centers are there to ensure the operation of subnets. And while some argue that this hardware is complex and quite expensive, which leads to the factor that can potentially endanger the decentralization of the platform (only a certain number of people can afford to buy the hardware and run nodes), the DFINITY team responds that not a single data center has been or ever will be provided with hardware directly by DFINITY, and when buying these machines, people do it themselves and DFINITY doesn’t have anything to do with this.
Subnets are transparent networks that can be compared to decentralized blockchains. The peculiarity of subnets is that they have types, and depending on the type of application the developer wants to create, they direct a particular subnet, such as "data," "system," or "fiduciary." A subnet type affects its capability. In case one subnet is overloaded, the Network Nervous System can split it into two or more. This process is also claimed to be transparent and visible to the original subnet, but does not affect applications in any way and does not disrupt their work.
The Network Nervous System (NNS), the supervisory authority, checks the functionality and correctness of data centers and subnets. DFINITY describes it as a kind of analog of the Internet's ICANN. Whereas nodes are managed by the set of cryptographic protocols Chain Key.
Accordingly, subnets host smart contracts, which in the Internet Computer universe are called canisters. But it's not so simple here either: "a bundle of code and data," canisters are not the usual counterpart of smart contracts by another name, but rather their "improved" version, as claimed by DFINITY. According to the company, canisters encapsulate all functionality of smart contracts, but they can also be used to "build software services that scale".
Software canisters can "communicate" with each other through bidirectional message passing, which makes them fully interoperable. They can message each other, whether they are written in the Internet Computer's native Motoko programming language or in another. Important addition is that canisters can create new canisters and fork themselves. All of the above allows protocols and any other software housed in canisters to scale. The project claims to deliver 25x throughput of that of Ethereum and that’s only a start.
The company has made it possible for smart contracts to securely serve web content directly to users, unlike the often seen dApp design where only a small part of the logic runs in a smart contract, while the rest is hosted on a cloud provider. The goal of the Internet Computer team is to provide developers with the means to build “consumer-facing experiences” competitive to centralized servers.
The Internet Computer wallet authentication alternative is a so-called Internet Identity - a blockchain authentication framework that lets users utilize cryptographically enabled devices as identity “anchors”. Such devices can be a fingerprint sensor on a laptop, a face ID system on a mobile device, or a portable HMS (Hardware Security Module) such as a Ledger wallet.
One of the benefits of using Internet Computer is that consumers are neither charged for any Internet Computer fees, nor need to use tokens to interact with dApps built on the blockchain.
The ICP token serves as a currency for paying commissions within the network, and it also needs to be staked to acquire voting power in making decisions about any changes to the Internet Computer network.
However, it is worth noting that commissions in the Internet Computer network are not the same as gas on Ethereum. Canister smart contracts are fuelled by the so-called "cycles". These cycles do not require payment from users, as is the case with Ethereum and the vast majority of other blockchains, but from smart contracts. This is sometimes referred to as "reverse gas". Thus, canister smart contracts are pre-charged with cycles and must pay for their data to be computed themselves, relieving users of this burden.
The Internet Computer ICP token can be purchased on centralized exchanges like Binance, HitBTC, and Coinbase Pro.
The Internet Computer ICP token can be purchased on decentralized exchanges like Sonic.
It is up to you where to buy the ICP token. It is worth taking into account that decentralized exchanges allow you to do this anonymously, you do not need to pass KYC procedures to use them, on the other hand, the cost of transactions may be higher than on centralized exchanges, while there is a risk of your funds being held by the exchange.
To understand if Internet Computer is a good investment and try to make an ICP price prediction, you need to do your own research on the project.
All the data for research is available on the project page on our website: check out the technical features of the project in this review, try to use the app, see if the information about the team is available and the team is open for communication, and using the project dashboard and the ICP price chart, assess the project usage rates as well as the token price movement and the number of its holders.
The Internet Computer team is operated by the DFINITY Foundation - a nonprofit organization in Zürich, Switzerland, whose main effort was to create this network. The project was started by a developer and researcher Dominic Williams in 2016. DFINITY has a big team of over 200 researchers, developers, and other professionals with a long career track record. The project is open about its team and provides contacts for each member.
The project is also supported by The Internet Computer Association (ICA) based in Geneva. The association describes itself as an independent member organization that advocates for the Internet Computer network while supporting and coordinating ecosystem participants.
Since going mainnet, DFINITY has been actively recruiting developers to its network, including launching grants like the CHF 200-million Developer and Ecosystem program, targeting DeFi and NFT projects as well as developers tooling. The company reports that as of the beginning of May 2022, there were more than 180 grants handed out for projects whose focus lies in the area stated by DFINITY: dapps and open internet services, canister development kits (CDKs) and agents, developer tooling, infrastructure, and integrations and APIs.
At the moment, the Internet Computer ecosystem is actively evolving and has some significant actors. One of the most important is a Web 3.0 venture production studio (web-hosting tool) Fleek, which has built the browser-extension wallet dubbed Plug.
Within the ICP network you can also find Distrikt, a blockchain-based decentralized social network (analog of LinkedIn), the blockchain-based decentralized social network DSCVR (Discover), SUDOGRAPH - GraphQL for the Internet Computer, a social platform for developers DEVNULL, OPENCHAT - a tokenized version of WhatsApp, derivatives issuing protocol BEBENTURE, decentralized exchange ICPSWAP, open order protocol and AMM - ORDERSWAP, and many others in the development stage.
The first NFT collectibles on the Internet Computer - ICPunks - sold 10,000 copies in half an hour in September 2021. “Just as CryptoKitties stress-tested the Ethereum network in 2017, demand for clown punks successfully tested the Internet Computer." - DFINITY's official Twitter commented on the sale.
As in all other aspects of their project, DFINITY’s roadmap for the twenty years ahead emphasizes decentralization: the very title of the Internet Computer roadmap states that it and all changes to it are subject to discussion and voting.
The ICP community discusses the roadmap and makes proposals followed by the voting procedure on a specially dedicated developers forum. The NNS decides whether to adopt those proposals, based on the activity of the so-called “voting neurons” which are formed when the community members stake their ICP tokens to obtain the voting power.
Among the next major milestones are integration with the Bitcoin network, integration threshold ECDSA signatures, and the Big Map - a scaling solution for linking canisters together.
In September 2021, the Internet Computer community voted for the integration of the Bitcoin network. The point of this integration is to provide the Bitcoin network with something it sorely lacks - support for smart contracts and the ability to make transactions quickly and inexpensively. At the moment, Bitcoin is represented on various blockchains in a wrapped form. Using its Chain Key cryptography, the Internet Computer integration offers an option without wrapping or bridging the coins. At the same time, the integration threshold ECDSA signatures motion was accepted, allowing canister smart contracts to have an ECDSA public key to enable integration of Bitcoin and Ethereum onto the Internet Computer.
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