Understanding DePins: Where AI and blockchain meet

DePins are protocols based on blockchains in an open or decentralised manner, that build, operate, and sustain digital infrastructures in the real world
A representational image of the Blockchain network. — Canva
A representational image of the Blockchain network. — Canva

Earlier this month, global financial sector leaders gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and artificial intelligence (AI) remained the epitome of discussions.

Numerous financial experts asserted that combining AI with blockchain elements could revolutionise the existing global financial industry's efficiency, transparency, and security. Tech community members have been actively exploring integrating blockchain and Web3 through concepts like Decentralised Physical Infrastructure Networks (DePINs).

DePins, or Decentralised Physical Infrastructure Networks, are protocols based on blockchains that, in an open or decentralised manner, build, operate, and sustain digital infrastructures in the real world. This can include WiFi hotspots in wireless networks and solar-powered home batteries in energy networks.

Those contributing to DePins protocols, whether individuals or companies, receive crypto-based compensation and gain ownership stakes in the network and service they are contributing to.

Gadgets360, citing an example from Techopedia, reported that Helium is a decentralised open wireless network, in which anyone can earn crypto tokens for providing wireless connectivity.

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According to the report, DePins are becoming more prevalent in the AI industry to effectively address various needs, such as secure data storage, cloud storage, and GPU computing data. The integration of blockchain elements into DePins adds characteristics like shared control, transparency, and durability to the AI infrastructures where DePins are implemented.

Regarding cloud computing, which requires access permissions for GPU power and other high-performance computing resources, DePins provides unrestricted access that puts in additional layers of details to the outcomes delivered by AI. The more the developers delve further into experimenting with concepts like DePins, the more AI and blockchain technology will continue to extend.

“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,” Techopedia reported.

In November 2021, the concept of DePins was initially named by an open-source platform called IoTeX. Initially termed MachineFi, the concept aimed to combine machines with DeFi, leading to the 'financialization of machines.'

Following various temporary names such as EdgeFi, Token Incentivised Physical Networks (TIPIN), and Proof of Physical Work (PoPW), Messari settled on the name DePin for this sector. A public poll conducted by the crypto market intelligence provider in November 2022 helped finalise the chosen name.

CryptoPragmatist reported that some of the leading DePin projects are Render, a decentralized GPU rendering platform, Theta Network, providing blockchain infrastructure for the media industry, and the Ator Protocol, actively working on constructing an international privacy routing system.