Build An Infinite Decentralized Cloud

The decentralized cloud will be tamperproof, unstoppable, and support autonomous systems

The decentralized cloud provides unique new properties that will enable the fabric of the Internet to play key roles - such as supporting the sharing economy, messaging and even Web search - without intermediary organizations. Meanwhile, businesses will be able to profoundly reengineer their IT systems, making them far more cost effective and secure.

DFINITY pursues this in four ways:

COMPATIBILITY. DFINITY extends, compliments and strenghtens the Ethereum ecosystem by supporting EVM smart contracts while introducing synergistic alternative technology. It is not conceived as a competitor, but as a compatible sister network that provides very different properties for those that need them.

EXTREME PERFORMANCE. Novel protocols and cryptography - collectively referred to as "crypto:3" - deliver stunning performance improvements. Transaction finality can be provided in 7.5s on average (50X faster than today) allowing for greatly superior user experiences, and groundwork is laid for an infinitely scalable virtual computer that increases capacity as new "mining clients" join the network facilitating creation of open versions of mass market services such as Uber, Twitter, Gmail (secure messaging not SMTP) and even Web search.

See the recently released "Threshold Relay" chain technologies for an example of what crypto:3 can do.

GOVERNANCE BY "AI". DFINITY has taken the bold step of making the "The Code is Law" paradigm contingent upon the decisions of a distributed intelligence called the Blockchain Nervous System (BNS). This has privileged access to network internals and can reverse hacks, restart broken systems, return stolen tokens and freeze nefarious systems, while also updating network and economic operating parameters and orchestrating protocol upgrades without "hard forks".

INTEROPERABILITY. Currently, organizations running private compute clouds must build isolated systems. DFINITY solves this by building on the unique properties of crypto:3 protocols: from the Copper Release forwards software hosted on DFINITY private clouds will be abe to make all-or-nothing calls into systems hosted on the DFINITY public cloud network. This will make it possible for private systems to use public systems as building blocks, and for private chains to interact via shared systems such as a public carbon credits exchange.

Our hope is that one day the world's critical business logic and systems run in the decentralized cloud.


Private network performance on public networks, and infinite scaling

Security. Speed. Scale.

The DFINITY project was formed to research ways of enabling public decentralized networks to host a virtual computer of potentially unlimited capacity. The starting requirement was that the systems developed should be useful in joining 1 million or more mining clients. We also sought vastly superior performance than is available today.

Our core approach is counterintuitive and ironically - for such a Herculean feat of organization - involves random numbers. A DFINITY network involves a top-level Threshold Relay chain that produces randomness and progresses with minimal "reorganizations" while addressing many of the technical vulnerabilities that have bedevilled the industry such as "selfish mining" or "nothing at stake". The random heartbeat produced by the chain drives other crypto:3 systems the network depends upon, while recording a single root hash that anchors all the data stored in the virtual computer, no matter how large it gets.

Threshold Relay generates randomness by applying the BLS cryptography scheme from Stanford University in a new way.

Finality and User Experience

A key challenge for decentralized cloud networks is finalizing computational transactions quickly. Currently, computations only become final after some minutes, and developers of applications such as decentralized financial exchanges struggle to communicate this to their users and provide an acceptable user experience. DFINITY uses Threshold Relay chains to address current limitations.

Network Confirms Finality Variance
Bitcoin 6 60 mins Very high
Ethereum 25 6 minutes High
DFINITY 2 5-10 seconds Low

More Computation

DFINITY is designed to scale-out to handle unlimited computation, but even in its initial COPPER release the network makes dramatic gains without implementing the crypto:3 scale-out systems. This is because Threshold Relay chains do not involve the "Poisson process" of Proof-of-Work systems and can allocate miners fixed periods to validate computation.

Network Gas Available for Computation / block
Bitcoin ---
Ethereum 5M
DFINITY 125 - 250M

Copper Release underway. TX finalization 50X faster than Ethereum now, with 50-100X gas capacity increase.

Blockchain Nervous System

Governance by a distributed intelligence

Decentralized Intelligence

DFINITY is a different kind of decentralized world compute platform. It is platform managed by a decentralized intelligence integrated into its systems that can make arbitrary changes. This acts to mitigate misuse, protect users, fix problems, optimize network configuration and seamlessly upgrade its protocols.

A recent blog post explains how the Blockchain Nervous System works. The system depends upon human-controlled "neurons" operated by special client software. These follow each other and cascade to decisions. Neurons are created by depositing dfinities and earn rewards for performance of voting services. While the expertise within the crowd is leveraged, follow relationships exist at the edges of the network making the decision process unknowable, protecting participants.

Protecting Users

In DFINITY the "Code is Law" is contingent upon the decisions of the nervous system. As we have seen, with the recent Bitfinex theft and hack of The DAO, hackers steal keys and can sometimes break smart contract systems with design flaws. A key purpose of the BNS is to return funds where possible, and reverse the damage of hacks. The BNS can also fix systems that have simply failed due to engineering errors, such as a complex autonomous system that has deadlocked.

This increases comfort for consumers and businesses alike, many of whom will be unable to adopt decentralized systems without such protection and recourse.

Accelerating Technical Evolution

In systems such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, upgrades to the protocol occur as a result of contentious and disruptive "hard forks". In DFINITY there is no equivalent notion and the BNS upgrades the protocol transparently on a regular basis, quickly introducing fixes and optimizations and driving network evolution forward as quickly as possible.

The process is simple: the network client is wrapped by a reverse proxy wrapper that systems and Dapps interact with. The wrapper is aware of the BNS, and when instructed upgrades the client while buffering requests, making upgrades transparent.

Adaptive Network Policy

In DFINITY economic parameters such as "mining rewards" or the cost of a "mining identity" are set dynamically by the Blockchain Nervous System, rather than according to a fixed schedule as in a traditional network. The BNS ultimately seeks to increase the value of "dfinities" and indirectly to drive adoption of the network. This invisible market hand will drive the BNS to strike more sophisticated and beneficial economic balances.


Connectivity multiplies value

The Internet Model Returns

We have become accustomed to the Internet model, where services on private local area networks (LANs) can connect out into public services on the wider Internet. For example, people share access to services such as Gmail, Facebook or a financial exchange. But today, no equivalent system exists in decentralized cloud computing. A private cloud network created using Ethereum technology is isolated and the smart contract software it hosts cannot call into systems hosted on the public network. DFINITY changes this.

Multi-Network Systems

The crypto:3 underpinnings of DFINITY unlock new functionality. The ZINC release of DFINITY will allow software methods called at the hightest level on private systems to be "decorated" with a single call to a system installed on the public DFINITY network. The system then ensures that either both the private and public method are executed, or neither is executed (the technical term is that code execution is "atomic"). Now a single call to software can result in computation taking place on otherwise separate decentralized networks!

Network Effects

DFINITY provides network effects for its users. For example, one network could push a carbon credit to a public exchange, and another could consume it.

Rapid System Development

While many private networks will be run by corporations, adding some services will be beyond their practical budgets and expertise. For example, a supply chain system designed to connect suppliers and help them raise trade financing against invoices might usefully incorporate stable currency, identity, arbitration and haulage market functionality. DFINITY allows open versions of such services to be created on its public chain, and then incorporated by private networks in the form of building blocks.