Today, the DFINITY Foundation, a not-for-profit organization based in Zurich, Switzerland, is setting the stage for the launch of its ‘Internet Computer’ — turning the public internet into a decentralized global computer. The Internet Computer extends the functionality of the internet, upgrading it from a network connecting billions of people to one that also provides millions of developers and entrepreneurs worldwide with a public compute platform for crypto-based startups and blockchain-ready enterprises.
At launch, the Internet Computer is supported by 48 independent data centers — located across North America, Europe, and Asia — running 1,300 nodes. The network will continue to grow exponentially to support the next generation of mega apps, with 123 data centers running 4,300 nodes scheduled by the end of the year, and eventually thousands of data centers running millions of nodes to support the decade-long building out of the Open Internet.
The ICP utility token is a native governance token that plays three key roles in the network:
- Facilitating network governance.
- Paying to host software.
- Rewarding participation in governance or the provision of computation to host the network.
On May 10th, in a final decentralization step, a “Genesis Unlock” proposal will trigger the Network Nervous System (NNS) to release ICP governance tokens. This will result in tens of thousands of Internet Computer token holders creating “voting neurons” that control the NNS and thus the entire network.
At its core, the Internet Computer is the world’s first blockchain that runs at web speed with unlimited capacity — solving the “blockchain trilemma” by producing a blockchain network that is decentralized, secure, and scalable. It accomplishes this through a set of cryptographic protocols called “Chain Key Technology,” a scientific achievement that enables the Internet Computer’s Network Nervous System (NNS) — an algorithmic governance system that controls the entire network — to onboard thousands of independent data centers and millions of special node machines. The Internet Computer is an open platform that frees the world from a dependence on centralized server farms, making it possible to host software and data directly in cyberspace without the need for legacy IT such as proprietary cloud services, server machines, software stacks, databases, and firewalls.
Mercury is the last of the five milestones leading up to the public launch of the Internet Computer when the network will spin out as part of the public internet. Today, the DFINTY Foundation hosted a Mercury genesis launch event, which you can view below.
On December 18, 2020, as part of the Mercury milestone, the Internet Computer’s Alpha Mainnet was created. The network is hosted on special “node machines” owned and operated by independent parties, and run from independent data centers around the world, that have been placed under the control of the Network Nervous System (NNS). The Internet Computer is now on a relatively short path to a final “Genesis Unlock” decentralization step. This will release ICP governance tokens, and result in the creation of large numbers of new “voting neurons” that control the NNS and thus the entire network. In order for the NNS to trigger Genesis Unlock, numerous technical and operational gates must be passed.
For the crypto industry, the Internet Computer is designed to complete a trinity of public blockchain innovations — starting with Bitcoin, progressing to Ethereum, and ending with the Internet Computer.
The creation of the Internet Computer now makes a new breed of software possible: open mass-market internet services run by tokenized governance systems (aka autonomous software), such as open versions of TikTok, WhatsApp, and LinkedIn, using less than a thousand lines of code, and capable of supporting millions of users.
The Internet Computer launch also reveals a scientific breakthrough called “Internet Identity,” a revolutionary approach that allows the Internet Computer to natively and securely manage user identities without usernames, passwords, or cryptographic keys. End users will use Internet Identity to sign up or log in to apps such as CanCan or OpenChat — while ensuring end-to-end cryptographic security made possible through Chain Key Technology.
Dominic Williams, DFINITY Chief Scientist and Founder says, “I want you to imagine a world where you can securely authenticating yourself to online services without ever touching a username and password or touching cryptographic key material, using just your devices. I want you to imagine a world where you can log into internet services without ever being tracked across internet services. And I want you to imagine a world where this is happening at a far greater degree of convenience than any kind of authentication service that you use today.”
The Internet Computer is the culmination of five years of intense research and development by many of the world’s top cryptographers and distributed systems and programming language experts. The result is a decentralized global compute platform that is being spun out as part of the public internet — marked by the release of all related source code into the public domain.
“Going forward, the DFINITY Foundation, the newly formed Internet Computer Association, and many other organizations shall work tirelessly to improve Internet Computer technology and support those participating in the ecosystem. For its part, the DFINITY Foundation plans to continue scaling out its R&D operations,” says Dominic Williams, Founder and Chief Scientist of DFINITY. “In 20 years’ time, the open internet will finally be significantly bigger than Big Tech’s closed proprietary ecosystem, which will now be in terminal decline but will take forever to disappear for similar reasons that explain why COBOL code is still running. Much of our crucial global society’s information infrastructure, systems, and services will now be running on the open, unstoppable, and tamperproof Internet Computer blockchain network. This will bring about profound transformations in how things work, and support an unimaginably richer internet ecosystem that incorporates more innovation, collaboration, and dynamism that drives positive economic growth around the world.”