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What is Internet Computer (ICP) and how does it work?



Internet Computer (ICP) is creating a decentralized Internet, with separate data centers that provide an alternative to corporate cloud services.

Like many projects in the cryptocurrency space, the Internet Computer Protocol (ICP) is much more than just a form of digital money. In fact, the ICP token that can be bought and traded through exchanges like Coinbase or Binance is just one part of a much bigger idea.

The basic idea of ​​ICP is to create a new kind of decentralized Internet and global computing system, where independent data centers from around the world could come together to create an alternative to cloud services (from companies like Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud ) that most power the current Internet. ICP's plan is for the protocol to run on millions of computers around the world.

ICP developers say that the resulting network has some key advantages over centralized alternatives. On the one hand, it operates through open standards and avoids the conflicts of interest that can arise when a major cloud computing provider hosts products that compete with its own services.

Originally called DFINITY, ICP's global, distributed network of data centers can run all applications that can be accessed through traditional Internet standards, such as DNS (the domain name system you use across browsers). web and smartphones).

The ICP token has several main uses: it acts as a governance token (allowing holders to “lock” part of their ICP on the network in exchange for having a say in the future development of the ICP protocol), it is rewarded by the network for centers of participating data for their good behavior, and is used to pay transaction fees on the network.

How does Internet Computer (ICP) work?

The Internet today is very centralized. Popular applications on the web are often closed source, proprietary, and hosted in a handful of data centers owned by large technology firms. And if a critical data center fails, large swaths of the web can shut down with it, too. Another major concern (particularly for privacy advocates) is that centralized corporate web service providers have the ability to censor or take down applications.

The Internet computer attempts to offer a fundamental alternative for developers to build, host and serve applications in a more decentralized way, allowing websites to be implemented directly on the public Internet. In addition, the Internet computer would incentivize the development of transparent and open source software.

As explained in the MIT Technology Review Internet Computer Profile:

"Instead of running on a dedicated server on Google Cloud, for example, the software would not have a fixed physical address and would move between servers owned by independent data centers around the world."

One way you can think of ICP is as a way to turn crypto into processing power – the network will set a fee based on the amount of computing power required by a developer's project. As long as the fee is paid, the website will run on the public Internet.

In theory, any type of application can be created and run on the Internet computer, from social networks similar to LinkedIn and TikTok to software similar to all the familiar applications you know today, to new types of applications not yet conceived. As a demonstration, ICP developers have released open source code for CanCan, which they describe as a "decentralized TikTok."

What risks could the Internet Computer face?

Participating in the Internet Computer may require more robust hardware than traditional blockchain projects, which could threaten its spirit of decentralization by limiting the number of potential participants. If the hardware requirements are too great, only large, well-capitalized players would be able to set up data centers and participate.

Also, in a truly decentralized network, who can be held responsible for hosting abusive content? The corporations that run the Internet today employ a degree of restraint, although the flip side is that they can also arbitrarily de-platform anyone at any time. Ideally, Internet Computer (and other encryption protocols) can create solutions that enable decentralized governance for moderate these difficult issues.

Internet Computer is not the only protocol that aims to reinvent the Internet. Other potential competitors include IPFS / Filecoin Y MIT’s Solid (which was created by web pioneer Tim Berners-Lee).

Who originally developed the Internet Computer (ICP)?

Internet Computer (ICP) was built by the DFINITY Foundation and was started by a developer named Dominic Williams in 2016. The DFINITY Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to researching and developing the Internet Computer; After years of research, it was officially launched in May 2021. Researchers around the world contribute to the work of foundations, including cryptographers who own around 100,000 academic citations and 200 patents.


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