DePins: Where Blockchain Meets AI

Earlier this month, leaders from the international financial sector gathered under one roof to attend the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland. The topics of blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and Artificial Intelligence were most discussed during this event. Several financial experts claimed that the integration of AI with blockchain elements could be a game changer for the efficiency, transparency, and security of the existing global financial industry. Members of the tech community have already been experimenting with the integration of blockchain and Web3 with concepts like Decentralised Physical Infrastructure Networks or DePINs.

DePins are protocols based on blockchains which, in an open or decentralised manner – construct, operate, and maintain digital infrastructures in the real world. This ‘infrastructure’ could range from WiFi hotspots in wireless networks to solar-powered home batteries in energy networks.

The individuals and companies that contribute to DePins protocols, in return, receive crypto-based compensations and an ownership stake in the network and service they’re contributing to.

Citing an example of a DePin, a report by Techopedia said Helium, which is a decentralised open wireless network, allows anyone to earn crypto tokens for providing wireless connectivity.

DePins are increasingly being developed for the AI industry to efficiently cater to the industry needs like secure data storage, cloud storage, and GPU computing data among others, the report said. The blockchain element in DePins add characters like shared control, transparency, and durability to AI infrastructures that DePins are deployed to.

In terms of cloud computing, that require permission-based access to GPU power and other high-performance compute resources – DePins provide permissionless access that adds more layers of details to the outputs that AI delivers. The more the developers experiment with concepts like DePins – the more AI and blockchain technology will intertwine with each other.

“AI technology in a decentralised and open-source manner. Calls for the democratization of AI are increasing by the day. DePINs will reduce entry barriers, allow unrestricted access, and make AI solutions more affordable for everyone,” the report by Techopedia noted.

A Little More About DePins

It was in November 2021, when the concept of DePins, got its first tentative name from an open-source platform called IoTex. At the time, DePins were termed as MachineFi – to show that the concept will combine machines with DeFi leading to the ‘financialisation of machines’.

After jumping through other temporary names like EdgeFi, Token Incentivised Physical Networks (TIPIN), and Proof of Physical Work (PoPW) — Messari finalised the name for this sector as DePin. The provider of crypto market intelligence products had posted a public poll in November 2022 asking people to choose their favoured name for this concept.

As per a report by CryptoPragmatist, some of the top DePin projects are – Render, which is a decentralised GPU rendering platform, Theta Network – that provides a blockchain infrastructure for the media industry, and the Ator Protocol – that is working to construct an international privacy routing system.

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