Project Spotlight – NKN

(, 2018)

What Is NKN?

NKN, which stands for New Kind of Network, is a blockchain network infrastructure that creates a decentralized network by using cellular automata. Cellular automata is a model with nodes that change their state based on a local rule. NKN uses the NKN token to incentivize use of its new kind of network.

The Innovation of NKN

Why does the world need a new kind of network? The Internet has been working successfully for decades, why change it? While it’s true that the Internet has exhibited immense growth and success over the past few decades, the technology behind the Internet is ripe for disruption and innovation. Various blockchain projects have already begun to enhance certain pillars of the Internet; for example, Ethereum has revolutionized computing and Filecoin has revolutionized storage. The backbone of the Internet, the network across which data travels from one point to another, is what NKN is seeking to enhance.

In recent months, the Internet as the world knows it has been facing change. One of the biggest examples of this recent change is the repeal of net neutrality in the United States. Currently, consumers access the Internet via the network of their Internet service provider (ISP). ISPs sometimes work with each other to share network resources, but overall, the fibers in the ground or the satellites pinging data are the property of specific entities. NKN would put the power of networking into consumers’ hands as each consumer’s individual Internet-connected device would serve as a node in a decentralized, distributed, peer-to-peer network. For example, a user with a low cell signal in an area could use the NKN app on their phone to access the NKN network, connect to devices/nodes around them in a secure manner using other, existing technologies like Bluetooth, and be able to use another node’s connection to send and receive data. Nodes participating in the NKN network would be rewarded with NKN tokens.

How NKN Works

NKN utilizes emerging technology to connect nodes in a decentralized, distributed manner. It uses blockchain to provide secure, confidential data connectivity in order to achieve distribution and decentralization without a need for redundancy. It does this by using cellular automata, a discrete mathematical model. Cellular automata was extensively researched by noted mathematician Stephen Wolfram, who deeply explored it in his book, A New Kind of Science (Wolfram, 2002).

Cellular automata helps keep the NKN decentralized data transmission network balanced with concurrent, equivalent nodes. Cellular automata also helps drive consensus on the NKN network. NKN uses Proof of Relay as a novel type of Proof of Work, as well as to incentivize resource sharing and token usage on the network. Applications such as DApps and smart contracts can utilize the NKN network.

The technical and mathematical details of how NKN works are explored in greater detail in NKN’s whitepaper.

The NKN Token

The NKN token is a utility token that incentivizes use of the NKN network. NKN tokens will be exchanged between users of the network as compensation for resource sharing on the network. According to the NKN Team, the token is fungible and anonymous.

“There will be a fixed amount of NKN created. 70% of NKN will be available at launch and 30% will be mined after NKN’s mainnet is launched. The mined tokens will slowly be generated in declining amounts over 25 years. Of the 1 billion total NKN tokens, 350 million are available to purchasers at launch, 180 million are reserved to be transferred to developers and advisors over an initial 3-year timeframe, 170 million are reserved for the NKN Foundation, and 300 million will be produced by mining” (NKN, 2018).

In addition to being used to exchange for services within the NKN platform, NKN tokens can be exchanged for cryptocurrencies or fiat currencies via the use of third-party exchanges.

More about the NKN token can be found in NKN’s economic model.


NKN is bringing a mathematics-backed, novel approach to Internet networking into the blockchain scene. While much research has been done regarding cellular automata, NKN is the first organization to integrate it into a blockchain data transmission network. NKN’s core team is composed of experienced researchers and business associates, including experts in telecom, mobile projects, cellular automata, and blockchain development. The NKN team is advised by Whitfield Diffie, a celebrity in cybersecurity circles for his contribution to the invention of Diffie-Hellman public key cryptography, as well as his many awards and fellowships. NKN’s unique innovation and value proposition paired with its experienced and renowned core team make it an interesting and promising project.

Author: Mia S.

Revisor: Jay Jie


[1] NKN. (n.d.). NKN. Retrieved from

[2] NKN. (n.d.). NKN Introduction[PDF].

[3] NKN Lab. (n.d.). NKN Whitepaper[PDF].

[4] Wolfram, S. (2002). A New Kind of Science. USA: Wolfram Media.

[5] (n.d.). NKN Logo [Digital image]. Retrieved July 13, 2018, from

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