Critique of PsychedelicDAO's Pivot Away from Internet Computer

Geoffrey Miller
Geoffrey Miller
Critique of PsychedelicDAO's Pivot Away from Internet Computer

Many in the ICP community are confused by Psychedelic's move away from the Internet Computer ecosystem to develop omni-chain products on other blockchains. Why would the Internet Computer need any off-chain supplementals when one of its primary aims is to eliminate the need for intermediaries?

Many in the ICP community are confused by Psychedelic's move away from the Internet Computer ecosystem to develop omni-chain products on other blockchains. Why would the Internet Computer need any off-chain supplementals when one of its primary aims is to eliminate the need for intermediaries?

Over the past few months, the Internet Computer has released native integration with Bitcoin, HTTPS Outcalls, and doubled-down on its bridge-less approach to multi-chain transactions. In contrast, Psychedelic appears to be going backward against the evolving, decentralized vision of crypto.

Critique of Psychedelic's Departure

The full reasoning behind Psychedelic's change in direction is unclear due to a lack of recent communication. Indeed, Psychedelic's Twitter account and other social media channels have been quiet for over a month now. The last major announcement was mobile authentication for the Plug Wallet dApp.

Given such limited avenues for gathering information, discussions on developer forums are the best sources available, apart from Psychedelic's "Wish List for the Internet Computer" from last July.

Should DFINITY Focus on Protocols and Not Applications?

In Psychedelic's Wish List, it argued that the DFINITY Foundation's attention to the application level of the Internet Computer is misplaced. Instead, Psychedelic wants innovation in applications to come from the community, with DFINITY taking a hands-off approach to exclusively focus its team's talents on protocol priorities, such as on-chain DNS, on-chain SSL certificate issuance, or the further decentralization of boundary nodes.

There are three problems with this argument:

  1. DFINITY partly funds community application development with grants, and thus has a vested interest in outcomes and standards of application development.
  2. The Internet Computer aims to move away from development on proprietary API, which isn't possible if blockchain developers simply recreate the situation of privately owned and developed application creation tools.
  3. DFINITY also has an interest in making sure application development can get the most out of the Internet Computer's protocol.

I think that far from being wasted, spending DFINITY’s engineers’ talent and time in taking chances at the application level on things that may or may not be the right fit for the broader Web3 ecosystem is vital, especially early on. The community needs someone to offer guidance with experimentation and assume some of the risks.

Should DFINITY Crowd-Source ICP's Roadmap?

Psychedelic has also argued for a crowd-sourced approach to a development roadmap for the Internet Computer. Furthermore, Psychedelic has argued that while it's true the community votes on proposed roadmap items, getting to say yes or no to items on a predetermined list does not constitute community governance.

There are three problems with this argument:

  1. Many Internet Computer community members are not technical experts and do not have the background needed to prioritize a development roadmap; people who do have technical expertise are already encouraged to participate in developer discussions and global R&D.
  2. Crowd-sourcing roadmap development may have been disastrous, given alleged efforts to undermine the DFINITY Foundation's Internet Computer project.
  3. Implementing innovative and unprecedented technology requires leadership and coordination from technical experts who understand the vision of reinventing the entire Internet and have long-term employment incentives to follow through on implementation.

In my opinion, Psychedelic's demand that DFINITY have less influence over the Internet Computer's roadmap in preference to greater community involvement misunderstands the nature of collaboration and what's needed for success. After all, ICP isn't simply another meme or game coin that's amendable to a Twitch-streamer style of decision making about what happens next.

The fact of the matter is that builders, not just in the IC ecosystem, but across the broader Web3 ecosystem do NOT always know best what they want to see out of the Internet Computer. Some are direct competitors, others may have ulterior motives, and most simply lack the requisite technical expertise.

Should the Community Stop Treating DFINITY as "Gospel"?

One of Psychedelic's boldest arguments is its belief that the Internet Computer community gives too much deference to the DFINITY Foundation, going so far as to accuse the community of blind faith. The main example Psychedelic offers is the SNS, which Psychedelic sees as an "opinionated version of a beefed up fundraising platform." They want a different approach from DFINITY, which would "provide the sandbox in which the community can reach maximum experimentation."

There are three problems with this argument:

  1. It's hard to quantify faith, and given the amount of FUD, introspection, and criticism I've seen among the Internet Computer community over the past year, it seems unreasonable to accuse the community of blindly following DFINITY.
  2. DFINITY welcomed criticism and feedback on the launch of the SNS-1 and has encouraged people to contribute to lessons learned.
  3. Maximum experimentation without direction is not desirable, and would most likely end up recreating a Second Life outcome of fading irrelevancy; again, something as important as reinventing the Internet needs authoritative direction.

It's worth noting that Psychedelic intends to build its own governance product as an alternative to the SNS. However:

  • Can Psychedelic demonstrate community involvement and show concrete responses to criticism?
  • Can Psychedelic justify their dismissive description of the SNS with well-documented objections?

Psychedelic has the platforms and resources to answer these questions.

Should the Internet Computer take a Limited Role in Web3?

In its Wish List, Psychedelic also advocated for the Internet Computer to take a more limited and focused role in Web3 as its orchestration layer. In other words, the Internet Computer in Psychedelic's view should still provide storage and computation, but its main attraction would be to make cross-chain calls and coordinate between other (assumedly proprietary) API's.

In other words, Psychedelic has called for the Internet Computer to become the AWS of Web3 and abandon time spent on features like the SNS, People Parties, and Internet Identity.

The problem with this recommendation, however, is that it ignores that the Internet Computer isn't simply another crypto blockchain project. Instead, the Internet Computer seeks to reinvent the Internet as a decentralized, public utility. Restraining the Internet Computer's scope would mainly prove beneficial for groups like Psychedelic which seek to offer third-party services.


I hate to be cynical about Psychedelic's motives for shifting away from centering development on the Internet Computer, but it should be noted that Psychedelic operates the Terabethia bridge between ICP and Ethereum. Meanwhile, the DFINITY Foundation's recent work on direct blockchain integration seems poised to soon render bridges between blockchains obsolete.

That definitely seems like a conflict of interest that might warrant critical evaluation of any of Psychedelic's arguments or recommendations.

To make a successful pivot to developing omni-chain products, Psychedelic must justify the need for them in the first place. It must respond to criticism, and it must exhibit the same kind of transparency and responsiveness to community concerns that it has requested from DFINITY. The Internet Computer community deserves to know, for example, whether support will continue for dApps and services like Plug Wallet and Fleek. Moreover, will users of Psychedelic DAO's products be exposed to the hacking risks associated with blockchain bridges?

At this point, we don't know. We don't know much of anything. And that's a problem.

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  • 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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