The blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) are two cornerstones of the new computing movement. The blockchain offers a secure yet transparent way of handling big data. Moreover, the blockchain points the way toward a decentralized computing future, where power is held in the hands of the masses rather than a few ultra-powerful computing elites. AI, on the other hand, seeks to replace traditional human intervention or clumsy handwritten algorithms with smart coding that can learn and adapt from the information it collects.
The synergy between these two powerful computing movements is turning out to be greater than the sum of its parts. AI can use information gleaned from and manipulated by blockchains to sort through problems more quickly than ever before – and it can do it freely, in a distributed manner, without being confined to a single entity’s data set or restrictions.
If this sounds a little too sci-fi to be true, you should know we’re getting closer to that invisible barrier between fiction and reality every day. Here’s a quick survey of the combined blockchain/AI field. We’re going to take a brief look at some of the projects that may soon change the way we live, learn, work, and play. Then we’re going to discuss what exactly makes blockchain and AI such a blockbuster combination.
SingularityNET seeks to bring the power of AI to the masses. It provides a sort of open toolkit for AI development and use. Failing that, it gives the non-tech-inclined a portal for investing in AI technology.
“SingularityNET is an open-source protocol and collection of smart contracts for a decentralized market of coordinated AI services,” the team explained in its white paper. “Within this framework, the benefits of AI become a global commons infrastructure for the benefit of all; anyone can access AI tech or become a stakeholder in its development.”
SingularityNET also features a market element, whereby ongoing improvements in the AI field are rewarded with the native currency AGI. This market takes the form of a kind of AI bazaar, where developers can upload AI services for use by the community at large.
DeepBrain Chain advertises itself as a kind of digital, decentralized brain. Its main purpose is to replace costly (and proprietary) AI services with its own neural network.
The network functions via its native currency DBC on the NEO blockchain. DeepBrain Chain hopes to provide data alongside its decentralized AI services, creating a marketplace where data can be both obtained and analyzed as a third-party service.
The need for such a marketplace is expected to grow exponentially, the DeepBrain Chain team said in their white paper.
“With the exponential development of GPU computing power, big data, Internet of things, sensors, and other fields over the past few years, artificial intelligence has begun to break out, in a way that futuristic technologies such as facial recognition and voice interaction are being integrated into our lives day by day,” the developers said.
Namahe wants to bring AI capability to blockchain supply chain management. Managing supply chains is one of the golden goals of the cryptocurrency field due to their ubiquitous nature, and blockchain is uniquely outfitted for a computing task involving keeping track of large numbers of moving parts in a way that can be accessed by someone at any point in that supply chain. From aircraft parts to vegetables, the blockchain is already affecting the shipping and warehousing industry in a big way.
The missing piece of the puzzle is AI to sort through the vast quantities of data a blockchain stores. Perhaps more importantly, AI can be used to create supply or value chains with preset ethical considerations – like refusing to order from an available supplier if that supplier has been linked to child slavery or other unsavory activities.
“Globalisation has led to buyers sourcing goods from across the world, including from underdeveloped and developing countries,” Namahe’s developers wrote in their white paper. “The influx of huge orders, price wars, lack of consistency in ethical sourcing policies and the implementation of these by the stakeholders involved, corruption and ignorance of the local law enforcing bodies, has led to various forms of exploitation by unscrupulous business owners and contractors down the supply chain. This can include wage exploitation, child labour, physical and emotional torture and sexual misconduct.”
Namahe boasts the smart computing power to take blockchain smart contracts and apply them in a consistent and humane way. It takes the already-advantageous use of the blockchain in supply chain management and adds an almost human touch, making decisions on the fly based on the information it collects.
Tailor-Made for Success
As you can see, the blockchain and AI are already making great strides together. Their natural fit isn’t wholly surprising. Both mesh well in the encryption field. In fact, encryption is sort of the lifeblood of the entire blockchain system. AI has the raw computing power to deal with encryption quickly and safely – both decoding necessary information and encoding information that should remain private.
AI also works perfectly with the growing sophistication of blockchain scalability. Although this is still an issue with some blockchains – looking at you, Bitcoin – scalability is being rapidly addressed by a number of developers in the field. In some cases, this is causing blockchains to become rather unwieldy; there’s a massive amount of information, but no way to effectively filter it. Here’s where AI steps in. In some applications, particularly online advertising, AI can use the reams and reams of data produced by blockchain systems to design new and tighter blockchain projects. Essentially, the embedded AI in the blockchain helps the blockchain to become more efficient as it grows. The result is a self-learning, self-teaching blockchain with nearly limitless potential.
This kind of unique quasi-self-awareness isn’t the end of the line, however. Even now, blockchain systems that are wholly owned by AI are appearing. The future really is right around the corner.
Distributed autonomous organizations, or DAOs, are corporations without leaders. It’s one of the best things to emerge from the blockchain-decentralization revolution – open-source companies that can exist independent of centralized leadership. For now, most of these DAOs have been centered around cryptocurrency communities made up of participants from across the globe.
Read: What is a DAO ?
However, there’s a growing push for some AIs to take the helm of their own DAOs by leveraging the decentralized nature of the blockchain and using smart contracts for decision making. Taken to its logical conclusion, this means that at least some blockchain projects may in the future be entirely managed and executed by AI. In just a few years, we’ve gone from decentralized tech projects to projects owned and operated by lines of code. These AI workers don’t need to sleep, eat, or pay for health insurance. They aren’t limited by the processing power of the human brain, so they can code and sort through data at exponential rates. And they don’t really care about profits unless they’ve been programmed to do so. They can achieve the Bohemian ideal of working on a project purely for that project’s sake, independent of the oft-conflicting goals of project leaders and investors.
The blockchain and AI are a natural match and one that’s likely to grow increasingly powerful as time goes on. Additionally, it’s likely that blockchain-run AIs and AIs built on blockchains will become increasingly prevalent. We stand on the cusp of a truly smart technological revolution.