Dfinity is a non-profit developing a decentralized computing network, Intenet Computer, using blockchain and algorithmic governance supported by the crypto studio String Labs, based in Palo Alto, CA, USA. The Dfinity protocol is designed to be self-governing through a network Dfinity calls a "Blockchain Nervous System," with a proof-of-stake consensus algorithm using a verifiable random function known as a randomness beacon. It was founded in 2014 and includes chief scientist and president Dominic Williams, CEO Tom Ding, Timo Hanke, Ben Lynn, and others. The company is privately held with funding both from community fundraising and venture capital funding from Polychain Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, and others.
Headquartered in Zürich, Switzerland, the organization has research centers in Switzerland and California and operates remotely in Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Dfinity's objective is to create a "blockchain singularity" where systems and services are rebuilt with smart contracts and operate from infinite public blockchain, excluding traditional IT.
With Internet Computer, developers are able to create DApps as well as install the code on the Internet. The project allows users to quit centralized services plus commercial cloud services. Internet Computer's purpose is to extend the public Internet through the introduction of Chain Key Technology, which is a set of cryptographic protocols involving different components, like Threshold Relay, which is a consensus model; Non-Interactive Distributed Key Generation (NI-DKG); Network Nervous System (NNS), which is an on-chain governance system; and decentralized identity or Internet Identity.
Chain Key Technology powers Internet Computer and facilitates the addition of novel nodes, formation of subnets, implementation of scaling, replacement of defective nodes, restoration of subnets, updating the Internet Computer Protocol, and fixing of bugs. As a result, Chain Key Technology is regarded as the engine of the ecosystem underpinning Internet Computer and driving the network and its operations.
Decentralized consensus is separated into four layers, beginning with the identity layer, then the random beacon layer, then the blockchain layer, and finally a notary layer. Quorum selection is driven by a verifiable random function or randomness beacon, which produces a source of cryptographic randomness.
In 2021, it was proposed that the Internet Computer protocol be extended to include smart contracts to Bitcoin. Every canister receives a Bitcoin public key via an application of Chain Key cryptography, which will directly integrate the Internet Computer blockchain with the Bitcoin network. Specifically, smart contracts on the Internet Computer will have the ability to hold, send, and receive their own Bitcoin.
An Overview of the Internet Computer
July 8, 2020
Blockchain Project Raises $61 Million from A16Z, Polychain Capital - CoinDesk
Dfinity raises $61 million for blockchain-based cloud
Dfinity raises $61 million for platform that rivals ethereum
DFINITY Technology Overview Series Consensus System
Timo Hanke, Mahnush Movahedi, Dominic Williams