A.I. Is Awesome, Blockchain Is a Powerhouse. But Here’s What Combining Them Could Do
If we’re careful to implement them the right way, new AI-Blockchain combo technologies could rewrite virtually all industries–including yours.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
You know artificial intelligence from your Alexa, Tesla or Netflix account. And now Blockchain is generating serious thunder, too, particularly in industries like finance and law. But what happens when these two technology heavyweights get married and function together?
Dr. Shiva Kintali, Founder and CEO of AI-powered adaptive learning platform Trueshelf, believes such a union might be one of the most transformative technological advances at our fingertips. A frequent speaker on game theory, AI, blockchain and cryptography, he sees how the two areas can provide synergistic potential for businesses. AI lets people understand and analyze massive amounts of data, but it's susceptible to hacking and misuse, as cases like Experian and Cambridge Analytica demonstrate. Blockchain can't do much in terms of analysis, but because it relies on a decentralized database, it's a legitimate way to protect all of the data that AI-related systems depend on. That's something everyone in virtually all industries can get fired up about.
So...what could we actually come up with?
The applications of a AI-Blockchain combo make the mind tingle, to say the least. For example,
- AI-Blockchain could help with citizenship, quickly analyzing and securing records governments use for visas and social programs.
- IBM's Everledger uses Blockchain to give "thumbprints" to diamonds and cross-check the stones with advanced regulation analytics and other data, ensuring gems from conflict regions don't enter the global supply chain.
- Kintali's own startup, TrueCerts.org is working to combine AI and Blockchain so universities, schools and learning companies can issue tamper-proof academic credentials. A similar application has been suggested for nurses, doctors and other professionals in the healthcare industry.
- Bitcoin mining could be made ridiculously efficient.
- Companies like Amazon could use AI-Blockchain to create automatically create smart contracts that know who purchased the product and prove that they actually paid in crypto to buy the product before leaving a review.
"It's important for people to start learning and think about much bigger and disruptive ideas," says Kintali, "such as a decentralized social network--Minds.com has an interesting solution they just debuted, Steemit has a Blockchain-powered solution--but the user acquisition is very hard. In 5 to 10 years from now, people are going to realize and take privacy seriously, giving these new services more traction."
As further evidence industries are taking the union of AI and Blockchain seriously, consider DeepBrain Chain, which markets itself as the first Blockchain-driven AI computing platform. The company, which hopes to become "the Uber in AI computing", hopes to use a new blockchain-based architecture to link worldwide AI computing power, AI models and data. Chief AI Officer, Dongyan Wang, outlines the company's goals.
"By leveraging token economy and mining rewards, we would reduce the AI cost of entry by about 70%, and reduce the time to market of AI applications from months to weeks or even days. Meanwhile, we use Blockchain to offer a decentralized, secure way to transmit data, models and broker resources together, without compromise of privacy and IP ownership. This will benefit customers with AI needs for better and cheaper business solutions, AI service providers to reach more customers and reduce development cost, and computer power, model, data owners to earn DBC tokens (public traded, ranked as No 115 largest altcoin companies globally by circulating market cap) for income. We expect our ecosystem will go viral once people realize we will level the playground for AI and help engage all available resources across the world for AI development."
WIth a mission to cut the costs of running AI programs, Deepbrain Chain is already showing success with the following milestones:
- successful ICO in 2017
- investment from NEO (one of the largest crypto companies in China)
- 32 million CNY of angel investment of GSR Ventures, Gobi Partners and Chance Investment
- planned release of TestNet in June, MainNet in Q4
- opening of the Silicon Valley Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain Research Center to build cutting edge AI and Blockchain solutions
What we need in our toolbox
Kintali points out that, because Blockchain hasn't matured quite as much as AI, there's a huge need for talented specialists who can start applying the technology in fresh ways. He says two ingredients are essential.
"To develop such disruptive platforms, you need a very strong technical team (with strong background in algorithms, cryptography, distributive systems, game theory, etc.) and very strong business development team (to communicate the long-term vision clearly to common people."
The hurdles still standing
"The main problem right now with Blockchain is scalability, specifically the number of transactions it can process," Kintali says. "For example, Facebook handles millions of transactions (likes, posts, comments) per second. Blockchain could not handle this right now. I'm hoping that in five years we will have far better open-source tools and standards for AI and Blockchain together, reaching some truly massive breakthroughs and challenges."
And then there are the regulatory aspects to consider. Because nobody knows what the big, long-term effect of AI-Blockchain technologies could be, agencies like the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) aren't sure what regulations they have to make and, subsequently, have to tread carefully. Kintali says he sees this confusion firsthand with the officials and regulators he works with, and that it's affecting individuals and companies globally.
Kintali isn't completely sold that regulations would offer truly solid protection even if implemented, pointing to the expansive "dark net" of the Internet as a prime example of regulatory ineffectiveness. Regulations also don't eliminate other concerns, such as the fact we can't totally predict what an AI will learn and thus can lose control--Tesla learned the hard way what chaos can erupt when a system misclassifies data. The decentralized power found in Blockchain also can suffer abuses and misuses, as well. But he still maintains that experts should teach the government and entrepreneurs about both the positive and negative ramifications of the technologies.
"This is not like the past two decades of the Internet and mobile apps era, when companies released their products to the public and the government interfered only when something wrong happened (e.g., Facebook). We need hands on interaction between the government and technology companies to discuss the long-term socio-economic, political and culture impacts as we are developing these AI and Blockchain-powered products with a global scale in mind. We need to proactively prevent against serious consequences down the road."
In short, while we can't run into AI-Blockchain technologies navely believing we won't need protections, we can choose to make them a positive force in daily life.
"If [these technologies] are implemented properly," Kintali says, "they can be used for globally disruptive services for the greater good of humanity. I am optimistic and very excited about the future of technology evolution."