Beginner's Guide to Understanding Badlands

Beginner's Guide to Understanding Badlands
Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Badlands will be a way to bring maximum decentralization to the Internet Computer by allowing amateur node providers to run low-end node hardware machines anonymously.  

Cryptocurrencies are no longer just an asset for speculation. With the introduction of smart contracts, blockchains will be more than just a store of value.

The Badlands proposal

What is Badlands?

The node machines of the Internet Computer network have high minimum specifications for each machine to ensure higher speeds, lower latency, and greater reliability. Consequently, these nodes are more expensive than those that can be used in another blockchain such as Bitcoin or Ethereum.

To ensure that anyone can become a node provider in the Internet Computer, the creation of a network called Badlands is proposed. The Badlands concept wants to extend the IC by allowing Anonymous amateur node providers to run nodes. In the case of ICP, the node operated by independent data centers are subject to verification by the Internet Computer Association and then approval by the NNS.

The node machines used in the Badlands network will standardize around special Raspberry Pi configurations, and it is much cheaper.

It will benefit from the maximum conceivable level of decentralization and censorship resistance, something that is held in great esteem by the blockchain community.

At the same time, allowing anyone to become a node provider on The Badlands could allow those who may want to someday be node providers for the Internet Computer to gain experience, as this is a more expensive and committed endeavor.

Badlands will aim to utilize the same protocol and code as the IC (see Chain Key Technology). It still will be able to scale its capacity, serve interactive web content, interoperate with other blockchains, and run at a good speed by traditional standards but it will not be nearly as fast or efficient as the Internet Computer.

Purpose of Badlands

The purpose of the Badlands concept is to allow for maximum decentralization + censorship resistance and still be able to host scalable smart contracts that are secure. Because of the low-end node hardware and security reasons Badlands will be comparatively slow in relation to the IC.

However, a decent entry range allows amateur node provides to host nodes anonymously. Badlands can be implemented either by creating a fork - separate chain or by creating it as a subnet within ICP. Dfinity and Communities agreed upon the subnets creation, however many want it to be a fork so that they might receive a 1:1 airdrop of BDL tokens.

Dominic Williams stated that Badlands will also add value to the IC and ICP holders will naturally receive an equivalent amount of BDL tokens. The IC sacrifices a bit of decentralization for maximum performance whereas Badlands sacrifices performance for maximum decentralization.

If a Fork is created, it follows ICP genesis tokenomics and token distribution. Dfinity has decided in all likelihood to implement Badlands as a subnet type. The community had voted on online polls and many of them voted to create Badlands as a subnet type rather than forking.

Badlands nodes advantages

Badlands Nodes cost around $250. Anonymity drives a decentralized and censorship-resistant ecosystem that thrives on using advanced novel cryptography on the ICP protocol.

In the IC, the NNS creates subnets by combining special node machines running on independently verified data centers. The nodes pass through the verification process and get approved by the NNS. There is no anonymity with regards to data centers because the ICP nodes cost over $10,000 and their whereabouts are publicly known. “Reliable” data centers can run hardcore IC nodes, which ensure security, thus serving scalable smart contracts at web speed.

Anonymous amateur node providers can only apply nodes every 90 days by attending  “ people parties “ and approve and notarize each other creating subnets. There are appropriate procedures to follow to approve notes, prevent security issues.

Badlands could be implemented via different methods:

1) Fork the Internet Computer into a new chain and new token, The Badlands and BDL (for example). Whoever has ICP will receive that amount of BDL.

2) Create new subnets called “Badlands subnets” that allow anyone to be a node provider.

It is possible to pursue Badlands subnets, but that it would take longer than a fork due to some technical hurdles. Whichever way the implementation goes, Badlands will operate as an extension to the Internet Computer.

Boundary Nodes that perform edge caching

Edge caching is the process of using caching servers to store content closer to end-users. IC Social media for example - loads query calls - Viewing your feed, which will be provided in milliseconds from a nearby Node. Static content can be cached for faster access. Badlands can act as boundary nodes by caching, while IC nodes can continue to perform powerful computations which otherwise cannot be done efficiently by Badlands Nodes.

How to become a Badlands node provider

Node providers will attend people's parties that will be held once every 90 days worldwide in different locations at the same time.  People will verify each other anonymously through a mobile application and then start hosting.

Currently, the proposed limit is one node per person once every 90 days.

People parties where 1 human becomes 1 node

The NNS in Badlands rewards the nodes for their services, the same as how NNS rewards nodes in ICP.

Criticism of Badlands

However, Badlands intends to be the wild west for smart contracts, many just don’t like the name.

The low-end hardware nodes will decrease the speed and capacity of smart contracts. Amateur Nodes will be less reliable, therefore to increase security, the network will increase computation and consensus difficulty. Which increases the cost of hosting and delay in executing smart contracts. The anonymity and less reliability of nodes lead to increased downtime of services when they crash. Smart contracts will be less private, unlike the IC.

Badlands will have its own network nervous system and will be fully interoperable with the Internet Computer. Amateur node providers and interested can get the experience of hosting nodes, thus piquing interest in ICP nodes. Users can stake and govern BDL in Badlands NNS and participate in governance and voting. Badlands doesn’t just achieve decentralization of nodes, it also broadens the ecosystem by allowing anonymous software and services to thrive.

Forking or a Subnet?

Spawning a new chain as a fork is easier than implementing it as a subnet. Forking is done by creating a new BDL ledger based on BDL tokens, basically a copy of the ICP ledger, meaning all ICP holders will receive BDL tokens. BDL tokens can be exchanged with ICP and liquidated at exchanges.

However, the majority of the community wants to implement Badlands by creating a type of subnet that requires low-end hardware to run. Creating it as a subnet would increase the decentralization within IC, as opposed to forking. Currently, Badlands is not a priority for Dfinity, as they are working on other projects such as ETH_ICP integration and a new tokenomics proposal.

Dominic Williams has stated that if forked, the Dfinity Foundation will sell Badlands tokens to raise funds for the community to incorporate more nodes and will also enable further funding for R&D

The current status quo maintained by the NNS and the Node machines

Even if Badlands is created as a fork, it will still be under the NNS of Badlands and IC. There are still challenges around the NNS of IC. Even though the community has around 60% votes, the majority of the community delegates their votes to the ICA and DFINITY Foundation.  To overcome this, decentralized delegation is required.  Not everyone who creates a neuron is tech-savvy and the current proposals can be hard to understand and vote by themselves.  Sometimes the proposal load will be too much to vote on individually.

This can be improved in various ways and As NNS can easily make changes to the protocol for the betterment of the Network.

Badlands can help solve this because Badlands is a gateway to IC. Badlands Nodes being anonymous and 40 times cheaper than IC, leads to mass decentralization which spawns communities. As more and more individual communities form and vote on the Badlands NNS, it may also extend this positive effect on ICP.

Timeline of Events

Dominic Williams, the founder of the Dfinity Foundation and Internet Computer Project, announced the Badland concept on 4th July. He has proposed a fork of the Internet Computer network which would come with a new token that would be airdropped to ICP holders.

Jordan Last, a well-known developer working on Internet Computer said that Badlands should be deployed as a subnet rather than launched as a separate chain. A subnet is an application-specific blockchain network within the Internet Computer.

Dfinity community released this poll and here are the results:

Dominic Williams has recently stated that Badlands will not be implemented anytime soon, if at all, and has stated that projects like the Ethereum / ICP integration are of more immediate importance. However, this is a project for the future that we can keep an eye on.

Visit DSCVR to see a really interesting discussion on the concept of The Badlands.

Resources from Dfinity

Dominic Williams - founder / Chief scientist of Dfinity Foundation has been releasing updates on Badlands.  

Badlands Technical Pre-Post by Dominic Williams.

Dominic Williams - Twitter | Distrikt

  • Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original author and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Dfinity Community staff and/or any/all contributors to this site.*

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