In an age where user privacy has never been more important, more people are trying to reclaim their independence through the power of decentralized networks.
While many blockchain brands, like ethereum, are trying to revolutionize online life as we know it, Dfinity is rethinking the entire structure of the internet — shaping the future of connection, privacy, and security in the process.
Today’s internet isn’t the Wild West we believe it to be. There’s a surprising amount of structure and centralization going on in the back end. Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and other huge tech companies have a stranglehold on the infrastructure that backs up the internet.
In practice, this means just a few companies control what we see, think, and feel online. This monopolization of the internet is dangerous, bypassing users’ ability to use the web as they see fit.
That’s why Dfinity created the Internet Computer. It’s a type of software (“smart contract”) that uses a decentralized blockchain without the cloud or legacy IT. Let’s dive into how the Internet Computer (IC) works, the research that went into it, and why so many users are backing Dfintiy’s new creation.
The Details of Dfinity
Dfinity is a nonprofit that was founded in 2016 by Dominic Williams, a former technologist at Ethereum. Dfinity is based in Switzerland, but has a global presence of over 200 team members from the United States to Japan.
At its core, Dfinity is a blockchain and cryptocurrency nonprofit, but it has lofty ambitions: it wants to revolutionize the next stage of the internet. Its flagship product, the Internet Computer, decentralizes the internet on the blockchain, allowing third-party apps to exist outside of legacy infrastructure from Amazon, Microsoft, or Google.
What Is the Internet Computer?
What’s so special about Dfinity’s Internet Computer? The ICis a public blockchain that uses smart contracts for the decentralized internet. But unlike other blockchain solutions, IC doesn’t use any Big Tech tools that other platforms still use.
After all, is your internet decentralized if it’s using a centralized platform like Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its backbone?
Instead of using centralized servers, the IC stack runs on independent data centers across the globe. With software Dfinity calls “canisters,” the IC is capable of offering a wide variety of features that developers would normally farm out to providers like Amazon or Google. Thanks to the IC’s canisters, you don’t have to buy separate services like servers, Domain Name System, and firewalls
How the Internet Computer Works
So, what have we learned from researching the Internet Computer? Well, this platform clearly isn’t a traditional blockchain. Thanks to its agile infrastructure, the IC is capable of doing smart contracts in a way that’s faster and more efficient than other platforms.
The Internet Computer uses Motoko, a programming language Dfinity created specifically for its smart contracts. All a developer needs is to create their canisters using Motoko, upload them to the Internet Computer, and share the DApp with the world — it’s that simple. It also uses a Network Nervous System (NNS) algorithm that allows the network to expand and upgrade over time.
The Benefits of the Internet Computer
As it turns out, this lack of centralization has a lot of benefits, both for developers and users:
— Independence: Did you know 70% of ethereum nodes are built on centralized services like AWS? This means that most of the “decentralized” blockchains that exist today aren’t decentralized at all. Dfinity uses over 400 nodes for the Internet Computer, which makes it resistant to censorship and shutdowns from centralized providers.
— Privacy: Users can stay anonymous while using Dfinity’s Internet Computer, which doesn’t require any personal information.
— Lower costs: The IC allows apps to store information at a fraction of what it costs on other platforms. For example, it costs just $5 a year to store 1 gigabyte of data (which is a sliver of what you’d pay anywhere else). The Internet Computer is also more affordable because developers fund the blockchain, not the users. This means users are incentivized to use the blockchain because they aren’t charged for use.
— Scalability: Dfinity built the IC to be completely interoperable, with canisters that use all programming languages and systems. It’s also very scalable — if the blockchain needs more volume, Dfinity can add more nodes to the network.
— Lower latency: Bitcoin transactions can take up to 10 minutes to process. But thanks to the Internet Computer’s agile setup, its slowest transactions take around five seconds.
The Research That Went Into Creating This Protocol
But how did Dfinity manage to create something that’s both decentralized, affordable, and faster than other blockchain technology? It all comes down to the research.
Dfinity’s founder, Dominic Williams, first created the Internet Computer in 2015 with the goal of creating a world computer you couldn’t shut down. In 2017, he received crowdfunding from hundreds of blockchain users and he sourced an additional $195 million from venture capital investors in 2018.
From 2019 to 2021, Williams’ team iterated on the Internet Computer, adding capabilities like third-party apps (which it calls “DApps”) and its Network Nervous System (the IC algorithm). It even created ICP, a cryptocurrency token, in May 2021.
But that isn’t where the research ended. Dfinity worked with countless other organizations and blockchain enthusiasts to continually improve the platform.
Dfinity held a hackathon to research new ways to innovate on the Internet Computer. It’s still early days, but the hackathon led to great innovations like:
— Documentation for developers working on the Internet Computer.
— Synchronizing and encrypting user data across all devices.
— Apps for storing a user’s identity and personal information.
— The creation of dapps, which build smart contracts in just a few lines of code.
— A public algorithm that search engines can use.
— Secure notary services.
— Using the IC for legal purposes.
In addition to hackathons, Dfinity encourages research on the Internet Computer through boot camps. Its 2022 IC Bootcamp invited startups to create projects for the Internet Computer blockchain.
With funding, support, and mentorship, Dfinity is working with partners to create non-fungible tokens (NFTs), metaverse applications, dapps, and even decentralized finance (DeFi) tools on the Internet Computer.
Decentralizing With Dfinity
In reality, the Internet Computer is going to make life a lot simpler for its users. It’s capable of smart automation, which means you can automatically lock your door and turn off the A/C when you leave the house. It can even update your availability on Slack based on your Uber pickup time or the subway schedule.
There’s no limit here, and that’s why further research into the IC is so important — it has the potential to upend the silos that currently make the internet so clunky.
We rely on the internet for so much, but in reality, just a few tech titans own the infrastructure backing it up. It’s important to decentralize and liberate a system that we rely on so much, allowing for a more democratic setup that brings people together. The internet can only improve if we bring fresh, new perspectives, and Dfinity’s Internet Computer does just that.
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