Internet Computer (ICP): an overview of cryptocurrency and blockchain

Today we will talk about the blockchain project Internet Computer. The cryptocurrency, which we are going to review, appeared on the market in May this year and immediately entered the top ten of Coinmarketcap rating, outperforming many well-known startups in terms of capitalization level.

The reason for such a stir around Internet Computer coin is the ambitious plans of its founders, who challenged the giant IT corporations that control the global network. Internet Computer (ICP) is taking Vitalik Buterin’s idea of a World Computer based on blockchain technology to the next level. Let’s find out how a revamped “Internet Computer” works, and whether it’s worth the money to invest in this project.

What is the Internet Computer (ICP)?

The Internet Computer (ICP) is a publicly available, decentralised blockchain platform designed to extend the functionality of the World Wide Web. The Internet Computer consists of a number of data centers scattered around the world. Each data centre contains several nodes that form a subnetwork.

The official website is https://dfinity.org

Each subnet is a separate blockchain, and blocks in each subnet can transparently invoke any other block, even those in other subnets. In practice, the network does not even distinguish between subnets when a block call is made, it is simply a function call in a seamless universe of secure code.

Users and developers interact with the ICP, and in the background, the ICP protocol distributes computation and data to subnetwork nodes.

Pooling within traditional PoW and PoS blockchains is not possible. This avoids having validator nodes with a huge number of stakes that create most blocks. Subnets can communicate with each other using unique ‘Chaining Keys’, which are part of the unique cryptography developed by Dfinity.

Each subnet forms a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) blockchain that uses a new consensus mechanism called Threshold Relay. They host decentralised applications running on ICPs. While conventional dApps consist of a set of smart contracts, decentralised applications on the Internet computer consist of one or more containers (canisters).

Canisters are basic structures for storing code, services and applications. They are smart contracts on steroids, and can automatically create new versions of themselves in other subnets to support new clients and can be used by other developers creating dApps. Because dApps are made up of multiple nodes running in powerful data centers, this allows transactions and applications to run at much higher speeds than on traditional blockchains, such as the same Ethereum.

The architecture used to create containers is optimised for creating decentralised applications and is also extremely versatile. One of the features is that any container can use the functions of another container, as long as they share the same permissions.

To create an open service in a container, a developer simply marks any of the shared functions as persistent and then hands over control of the container to a management system, which will handle issues such as configuration and upgrades.

Another important difference between the Internet Computing and other blockchains is the need for an identity, in order to interact with applications on the ICP.

An Internet identity can be connected to your PC, smartphone or secure USB key. A wallet address is automatically generated for you when you create an Internet ID. The device that was originally used to create this internet identity becomes the one used to verify transactions and is also required to add new devices.

The Internet architecture of data center nodes, subnets, containers and users is controlled by the Network Neural System (NNS). It controls all levels of the network.

At the data center level, NNS decides which data centers will be connected to the network.
At the subnet level, NNS decides which nodes form a subnet and is also responsible for generating subnet keys.
At the node level, NNS identifies nodes that are breaching or inefficient and removes them from the subnet.
At the canister level, the NNS can allow and deny updates to canister software or management services.
At the user level, the NNS can make changes to the ICP token economy.
Chain key technology allows subnets to communicate with each other through the NNS, which contains a master key that verifies all transactions. The NNS itself consists of several containers operating in a dedicated subnet.

The ledger container, monitors the organisation of the data center nodes and subnets.
Ledger, which stores data about all Internet identities, transactions and tokens.
Management Container, allows ICP owners to vote on various network changes.
The Network Nervous System, or NNS, is autonomous software that manages the entire system, from the network structure to the economics of the network. NNS is an integral part of the protocols used to create the ICP blockchain.

By weaving together the node machines, it allows the Dfinity network to become both autonomous and adaptive. NNS has a public key capable of verifying all transactions and acting as the ‘master’ blockchain.

Neurons are used to temporarily lock ICP tokens to generate voting rights to vote on network proposals. Neurons can also be made to follow each other to automate tasks. For example, a neuron can be created to follow the vote of another neuron, and thus they represent a form of democracy.

On 7 May 2021, the Dfinity Foundation ran the Mercury Genesis mainframe ICP, which worked without a second of downtime, despite some problems encountered during the launch. The network neural system encountered a false security trigger that caused it to stop processing sentences. This problem was quickly resolved and the network continues to evolve, self-tuning in real-time, and adding more subnet blockchains to increase throughput.

Internet Computer Project (ICP) team

Project founder Dominic Williams is a computer networking specialist with more than 20 years of experience. He started working on the ICP mathematical model back in 2015. The project is overseen by the Dfinity Foundation, a Swiss non-profit organisation registered in October 2016. The Dfinity team consists of nearly 200 of the most talented developers and researchers. The leadership team includes:

AsicBoost protocol developer Timo Hanke;
Ben Lynn from Google’s technical department;
Dr. Mahnush Mowedi of Yale University;
Intel Labs researcher Paul Liu;
Cryptographer Shigero Mitsunari;
Software engineer Norton Wang;
Artificial intelligence specialist Steve Omohundro.
About $160 million has been invested in the development of the project, raised by the Dfinity Foundation from venture capitalists and through an ICP ICO.

Internet Computer (ICP) mining opportunities

Internet Computer tokens are not available for mining on computing equipment, but they can be obtained as rewards for participating in supporting the network. They are paid to users for participating in voting, operating nodes and other activities. At the time of writing, there are 136,899,214 ICPs in circulation. The maximum supply is 469,213,710 ICPs.

Available exchanges for trading Internet Computer (ICP)

ICP cryptocurrency is traded by most of the reputable crypto exchanges, including:

Binance;
Huobi Global;
OKEx;
Coinbase Exchange;
Digifinex.

To buy coins on Binance, complete a simple registration and verify your account. Binance is a virtual cryptocurrency trading platform. Launched in July 2017, the exchange found itself at number one on Coinmarketcap within a few months and remains there to this day. The platform has everything you need for successful trading:

A large selection of cryptocurrency pairs;
A decent depth of exchange depth;
An extensive set of tools for market analysis;
User-friendly interface, in 40 languages;
Available trading pairs:

ICP/USDT
ICP/BUSD
ICP/BTC
ICP/BNB
ICP/EUR
ICP/RUB
Full list of exchanges and exchange pairs, as well as current ICP token exchange rate are available on service coingesko.com.

Internet Computer (ICP) wallets

The official website of the project https://dfinity.org features three developments of the Internet Computer wallet .

Plug Wallet, created and opened by Fleek, is a browser extension that allows you to access your ICPs, Cycles and other tokens as well as one-click login to decentralised Internet Computer applications.
A web-based NNS application for interacting with a neural system through a user interface. This decentralised application, served via blockchain, allows you to manage ICPs, place bets, participate in voting and receive rewards.
Toniq Labs’ Stoic Wallet allows the creation of a digital wallet by authenticating users in various ways, including through ICP identification.
Of course, you could use a deposit from any of the exchanges that support the cryptocurrency in question, such as Binance, as a wallet. But, be aware, trading platforms are constantly in the crosshairs of hackers.

Explorer Internet Computer

Dfinityexplorer service is used as a web browser. The link to the home page is https://www.dfinityexplorer.org. All information about the ICP blockchain ecosystem is available here, including the current price on exchanges and a map of the location of the nodes.

Pros and cons of the Internet Computer Project (ICP)

The Dfinity team was inspired by the blockchain computer idea introduced by Ethereum. But instead of competing with traditional crypto projects, they created a next-generation distributed network. Instead of the IP protocol, Dfinity introduced a new standard, ICP, which allows not only files and folders but also platforms to move across the network. If software runs on a computer, why not make the entire internet a global computer?

Instead of running applications on a dedicated server owned by Alphabet or Microsoft, Dfinity vision will create software that can move freely. The independent data centres that run the Dfinity network would be paid in tokens to run code on their servers, but they would not have access to user information, making it impossible to collect and sell data to a third party.

Of course, there are also disadvantages. A free and open internet would make it impossible to hold app developers accountable. The hope is that a decentralised internet will lead to decentralised governance, where programmers can decide how things will be regulated. This is the method used in the cryptocurrency world, and although it works to some extent, it leads to infighting between factions of the project. It remains to be seen whether decentralised governance, or “mob rule” as some call it, would be better than centralised governance by some sort of CEO.

Conclusion

The global network has changed dramatically, and not always for the better. It promised unlimited innovation and open use, but today it is dominated by technology giants.

The ICP project is undertaking to roll back the internet to a period of innovation, and it has already succeeded, launching Mercury Genesis and bringing ICP tokens to market. The team has also demonstrated test applications that run on 1,000 lines of code, as opposed to previous versions bloated to millions of lines. This was made possible by the creation of a new programming language called Motoko and the release of a terminal SDK for developers.

But development will require the support of IT companies and the involvement of users. Otherwise, Internet Computer Dfinity will become a useless blockchain utopia. Investing in an ICP token at this time is risky. If the project cannot compete with Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, the money will be thrown away. The idea of digital democracy has interested blockchain enthusiasts and investors, but what will come of it remains to be seen. So whether to buy ICP cryptocurrency or not, it’s up to you to decide. Good luck to you!

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