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Exclusive interview:  Could DePINs be investors’ 2024 AI revolution opportunity?

By:
on Feb 9, 2024
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  • In this exclusive interview with Orchid CEO and co-founder Dr. Steven Waterhouse,, we discuss DePINs.
  • For Waterhouse, Decentralised Physical Infrastructure Networks may be web3's next investing opportunity.
  • We discussed DePINs and why they're important in a year of growing deepfakes and other AI-related threats.

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As the world grapples with what the AI revolution means for humanity, investors are searching for the best way to gain a stake in the zeitgeist. Or, at least, buy into the next ‘big thing’, until we get OpenAI shares. Enter Decentralised Physical Infrastructure Networks (DePINs), which can act as both a digital community and a practical security measure against AI-enabled cybercrimes.

In an exclusive interview, CEO of decentralised marketplace and virtual private network (VPN) Orchid Global, Dr Steven Waterhouse spoke to Invezz about the opportunities DePINS may present to investors in 2024.

Q) Firstly, can you explain what ‘DePINs’ are, and why they’re important?

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A) Decentralised Physical Infrastructure Networks (DePINs) are a new way to build and maintain infrastructure in the real world through blockchain technology. These infrastructures encompass a wide spectrum, from electric vehicle sharing to decentralised storage solutions. 

Q) And why are they important? What’s their significance in the grander scheme?

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A) DePIN projects have arisen as a result of the drawbacks of centralised systems, as exemplified by ride-sharing giants like Uber.

In the case of centralised platforms like Uber, they exert control and profit from providers’ resources (vehicles) and services (chauffeuring). DePINs, on the other hand, leverage blockchain and tokens to incentivise contributors to collaboratively build and maintain these infrastructures.

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This novel, decentralised model has the potential to disrupt the service industry, driven by the powerful ‘network flywheel’ effect. Increased usage within the network directly drives token value through ‘tokenomic’ features such as burns and buybacks, ultimately providing ongoing motivation for contributors to continue expanding the network.

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Essentially, DePINs offer a community-driven, cost-effective means of scaling [web3] projects without relying on traditional, centralised models where all organizations and individuals can benefit from higher levels of control over their data and products through decentralised infrastructure.

Q) Investors are always looking for the newest digital ‘big thing’ – what do you believe that is?

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A) Decentralised computing networks offer the most compelling use case within the DePIN landscape. Currently, it makes up for the majority of the leading DePIN products in terms of Market capitalisation, exemplified by the likes of Filecoin, Render Network and Helium. However, we’ve seen that many ongoing projects either fall short of achieving true decentralisation or stumble due to ineffective incentive mechanisms. 

Q) And why invest in all this now, as opposed to a year ago? What’s the importance of DePINs and decentralised computing networks for where we are in 2024?

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A) The significance of the convergence of AI and Web3 in 2024 cannot be emphasized enough. Generative AI, such as Large Language Models (LLMs), has become increasingly sophisticated and centralized, posing significant threats like data misinformation, deepfakes, and data bias. 

As this convergence continues to grow, the importance of DePINs will increasingly come to the forefront. DePIN plays a crucial role in preserving decentralisation, countering the risk of centralised data control by large entities, and ensuring the core principles of decentralisation, privacy and data ownership in the ever-evolving AI landscape.

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