The Internet Computer Protocol (ICP) brings about a bold new mission to the table to replace the current Internet and act as the world computer. More specifically, their version will create open internet services leveraging decentralization. The ICP aims to be completely interoperable with all other blockchains out there, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, while also disrupting the tech monopoly's current power.
This new version of the Internet will be programmed into smart contracts, similar to many other projects today like Ethereum. However, these smart contracts have a different name known as 'canisters,' which we will dig into later. These canisters or code contracts make the protocol secure and decentralized while maintaining a user-friendly speed.
The ICP team also developed a new programming language named 'Mokolo' and the Network Nervous System (NNS), a decentralized and tokenized system used for governance. It allows for stand-alone computers to unite and form this global-distributed ecosystem.
Dfinity Foundation is the company behind the Internet Computer Protocol (ICP). Based in Switzerland, Dominic Williams, Dfinity's founder, has been active in blockchain technology since 2014 but started working on a decentralized computer network in 2016. He saw an opportunity and positioned the Internet Computer blockchain as a solution to the 'Big Tech' monopoly of the Internet as we know it.
After five years of developing, testing, and proposals, ICP saw daylight on May 10, 2021. The ICP token accompanied this launch and was available for trading on various exchanges such as Gate.io, Binance, Huobi, Coinbase, and OKex.
Initially, the project went by the name of DFINITY before changing its name to Internet Computer. The team behind the DFINITY Foundation has quite the impressive resume to its name as it has worked with about 200 top-notch blockchain technology experts. Together, they published no less than 15,000 research papers and have almost 100,000 academic citations. In addition, it's important to note that about 200 patents have been filed among these team members.
The DFINITY Foundation is a non-profit organization with worldwide research centers in the US, Germany, UK, and Japan.
Over 215 team members work in four different research centers.
Dfinity received support from well-known investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, Polychain Capital, Amino Capital, Aspect Ventures, and Eterna Capital.
Being reliable and secure ranks high in the list of priorities for the ICP. To achieve this, ICP allows several independent data centers to run nodes for the network and work together to create a decentralized network version of cloud computing.
The Internet Computer Protocol pools these nodes from various data centers and creates "subnets." Each subnet can host a PoS (Proof of Stake) blockchain that relies on the "Threshold Relay" as its consensus mechanism. You can think of these subnets similarly to Parachains on Polkadot, where developers can build applications on top of them.
As highlighted earlier, ICP has its own version of smart contracts called canisters. Canisters aim to offer more flexibility and development opportunities with greater ease of utility. Another exciting feature of the canisters is the potential for automatic upgrading, which helps with the maintaining speed of the blockchain. ICP's finality is currently within two seconds, making it on par with today's Internet. ICP is also appealing in user experience because there are minimal costs when dealing with canister-based decentralized applications (dApps). However, the DeFi protocol those dApps run on may require a small fee to process transaction requests. DEXs, lending platforms, and marketplaces come to mind as significant use cases since many of us have experienced costly fees to transact on other blockchains such as Ethereum.
The Internet Computer Protocol has a few features that make it unique. Let's have a closer look at them:
The Network Nervous System controls the ICP using an open algorithmic governance system.
The ICP network consists of hierarchic building blocks. Following this hierarchy are data centers, nodes, subnets, and canisters. The autonomous data centers are at the lowest level and host dedicated hardware nodes. Again, these independent data centers and their respective nodes form the subnets. In turn, the subnets contain the canisters.
The NNS does the configuration, security, and administering of the ICP. Subnets communicate with each other by using "Chain Key Technology." Moreover, the NNS and a master private key validate all transactions made on the subnets making it truly the backbone of the Internet Computer blockchain.
There are various use cases for the Internet Computer Protocol, just like the current Internet. But since ICP leverages blockchain technology and maintains open standards, this helps avoid conflicts of interest, such as other cloud-computing hosts competing with its own service. Below are additional use-cases for the protocol:
The Internet Computer's ecosystem is rather extensive and exciting. Therefore, we like to highlight a few projects part of the ICP ecosystem:
The ICP token is an ERC20 token and offers various use cases:
At the time of writing, mid-February 2022, the ICP token price is $19.74. The market cap is $4,079,093,372. The max supply is 477,194,120 tokens, and 206,874,282.86 ICP are in circulation. At the CoinMarketCap introduction, the ATH (all-time high) peaked at $450 in May 2021.
The Internet Computer blockchain combined with its NNS provides important and much-needed utility. We're excited about the promise behind this project with its many use cases and aim to disrupt the current monopoly surrounding big tech.
ICP offers a very technical solution to achieve this. With a team of experienced people, ICP offers peer-reviewed technical solutions that aim to further the decentralization and open standards of the Internet without limiting it in any way.
With the NNS and the ICP token serving as the backbone of the Internet Computer blockchain, respectively, we're excited to see how this protocol continues to evolve as plenty of ecosystems continue to build out.
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Please note that none of this is to be considered financial nor investment advice. We highly advise you to always do your own research (’DYOR’) before interacting with any of the projects or tools we write about. Crypto is a highly dynamic and fast paced environment with lots of moving parts that can quickly change.