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What Is Internet Computer?
ICP is a utility token native to Internet Computer – the network for building and running distributed software at revolutionary speed and scale. It has its own protocol, development framework and technological features, which would allow Internet Computer to become, in the project team’s words, “a new layer of internet” in case of a widespread adoption. Internet Computer is being developed by DFINITY Foundation, launched by Dominic Williams, who is an experienced crypto theorist and entrepreneur, and his team of scientists and crypto enthusiasts. The team is calling Internet Computer the third most important invention in crypto space after Bitcoin and Ethereum. Their goal is to develop a more democratic, decentralized alternative to the services currently provided by the Big Tech monopolists like Amazon and Google.
The idea of the Internet Computer is based on the concept of running the distributed apps (dapps) on the blockchain, with some notable changes and improvements:
- Apps and services hosted on the network are served directly into the end users’ browsers and available for them without using tokens
- The software is deployed inside so-called canisters which are an evolution of the smart contracts, behaving similarly to containers
- Several copies, or replicas, of the software, are executed simultaneously, which protects against tampering
- The network is built using data centers that provide nodes to support it. The network can be imagined as several smaller subnets, each of which is a blockchain
- This project uses its own consensus protocol different from the standard ones such as PoW or PoS (as well as employs some other technical innovations)
- It’s governed by the system called Network Nervous System, which is a “master” blockchain that records all the decisions concerning the network
- ICP tokens can be used for staking, which allows users to participate in the decision process (tokens are locked as neurons in the net), or dissolved into ‘cycles’ which power up the execution of the canisters. Users who provide their tokens for those activities get rewarded.
Pros and Cons of Internet Computer
- One of the key differences between ICP and other dapp platforms is that the software hosted on the ICP network is served directly to users
- This is an interesting reimagining of the early decentralized web ideals proposed by the founding fathers like Tim Berners-Lee and mitigation of the real risks posed by the current reliance on the private platform (like the possibility of getting cut off from the platform’s API)
- The ICP coin had a very strong launch, getting into top-10 cryptos by capitalization, which may signal high levels of trust and interest
- Has a chance to grow quickly, considering that it’s well supported from multiple angles:
- the project itself is updating regularly which means it’s managed well
- there are ways the foundation supports user onboarding – like offering grants for the developers
- it has generated a lot of interest from the big players in the industry
- The project is still young and, as with most of the crypto projects, it’s very hard to say whether it’s going to thrive, or to survive at all
- At the moment of writing, the ICP token has proved very volatile, which makes it a risky investment
- The network uses the new, untested consensus protocol
- The project’s team uses suspiciously flowery and often unnecessary complicated language to describe it, which may mean that there are compensating for the lack of the proper substance
The Internet Computer project embodies the ambitious idea to reimagine the way the internet works. While certainly not impossible, it may prove very challenging. The project, however, has a strong team with technical know-how, which has already translated into multiple strong features. If it succeeds, it might be a beginning of a revolution.
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