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Blockchain and AI convergence: Solutions to Some Critical Applications

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Over the last few years, AI and Blockchain have piqued the interest of many industry leaders. These two emerging technologies are already disrupting in different industries. Perhaps that is why companies looking to become industry pioneers are keen on their development. Before looking at how these technologies indeed intersect, let’s first recap.

Blockchain Technology

Blockchain came to the scene with the rise and popularity of Bitcoin. From the meteoric rise of Bitcoin, Blockchain came about as the new filing system for data.

At its core, Blockchain is changing how we store and encrypt data on distributed ledgers. Thanks to its sophisticated approach at data verification and protection, the need for centralized data silos is coming to an end. Blockchain enables robust databases to be updated and read on tamper-proof public or private networks.

Currently, the technology is synonymous with the finance industry. Its applications, however, are endless. Platforms such as Ethereum are enabling ongoing development of smart contracts on the Blockchain. These include practical, real-world applications through decentralized applications (DAPs). Blockchain can disrupt transportation, law enforcement, education, voting, and charity. The technology is useful in any sector that requires full access to public data before action confirmation.

Artificial Intelligence

On the other hand, Artificial Intelligence (also referred to as AI) is the theory and practice of creating machines to perform intelligent tasks. AI has been around longer than Blockchain. However, it is only recently that the technology has had significant advancements.

Over the last few years, AI’s capacity has been developed to improve;

  • customer service (with interactive “chatbots”)
  • agriculture (with intelligent crop monitoring and weather prediction)
  • healthcare
  • gaming
  • and manufacturing (with smarter machinery)

Albeit prediction by researchers about AI’s potential for becoming a multibillion-dollar industry by 2023, some industry leaders suggest caution. Elon Musk, for instance, believes that this technology can pose a fundamental risk to civilization. To this regard, Musk co-founded OpenAI which is a non-profit organization set to ensure the safe development of AI.

Blockchain and AI

Both AI and Blockchain have their fair share of skeptics. Even then, the groundbreaking capacity of these two technologies is undeniable. Already there is academic documentation highlighting the benefits of these technologies. However, real-world applications are still far and few between.

According to experts, however, things might start to change soon. For instance, while Blockchain is capable of improved data storage security, AI can enable faster and more efficient data processing.

Here are some of the most significant AI-Blockchain intersections to expect.

AI reducing Blockchain’s carbon footprint

Running a Blockchain is a resource-intensive exercise. Studies show that the virtual work required to mine Bitcoin, Ethereum or other proof of work cryptocurrencies is twice as much as is needed for mining copper gold or platinum.

The leading cause of this is the ‘brute force’ approach that most Blockchain networks use to verify transactions.

The technology continues to demand more computation power as long as it runs on sub-optimal machines. In the long run, maintaining the network will take up more electricity. Machine cooling expenses can also go through the roof.

With AI, this massive carbon footprint can be reduced significantly. AI can enable better and more efficient calculations that will help miners lessen the load. Considering how fast machine learning can navigate through new problems, an AI-Blockchain network can improve efficiency almost instantly.

Blockchain keeping AI in check.

AI’s decision-making processes can get too complicated even for the best programmers in the world. The reason is simple though. AI machines have access to large amounts of variable data forms. Therefore, they can increase efficiency in data processing. This results in a logic development that can out-compete human logic by far.

Perhaps this is why industry leaders like Musk continue to warn of a dystopian future that can result from a highly intelligent AI machine.

For a long time, we have been the most intelligent beings on the planet. Fortunately, human moral emotions have been instrumental in regulating social behavior. Now that AI is emerging as a superior to human intelligence, concerns over ways to mitigate its power have come up.

According to the president of Possibility Research, Steve Omohundro,

We should think carefully about what values we put in AI, or we’ll get something more along the lines of a psychopathic egoistic self-oriented entity.

Like most experts, Omohundro believes that Blockchain technology could be the solution for preventing a dystopian future caused by AI.

Blockchain can be used to introduce immutable regulatory requirements that will keep AI in check.

Blockchain can help manage AI’s decision making

We have seen that Blockchain is useful in regulating AI. This is possible thanks to the technology’s easy traceability. Also, this aspect can be useful in helping auditors understand AI’s decision-making process.

For instance, financial auditors will better understand why AI preferred crediting criteria A from criteria B by merely tracking down each step on the Blockchain. Furthermore, with Blockchain, it will be easy to verify data on a large scale.

Improves data processing and security

Individually, Blockchain and AI offer advanced levels of data protection. Blockchain’s immutability enables a level of security capable of storing sensitive personal data. Furthermore, users on the Blockchain still have full user control of their data. This feature can be useful in underdeveloped nations where there are poor citizen registration systems. With Blockchain, the government can offer better services like healthcare and immigration.

If you combine Blockchain’s data security with AI smart data processing the possibilities are endless. Intelligent citizen’s health care services can be developed for accurate diagnoses at cheaper rates.

In the private sector, businesses that run recommendation engines (Google, Netflix, and Amazon) will also benefit. They will be able to give better recommendations for their products and services.

Reliable trust mechanisms in the IoT space

Blockchain’s main selling point is the fact that it enables trust-less interactions. Plus, the network full of interacting computers operates entirely autonomously. With AI systems, this can easily take off especially in a machine to machine world of IoT. Devices will easily gauge the reputation of other machines to enhance trust on the network and speed up data processing. All this can happen while users maintain complete control over the system. Eventually,  centralized data processing entities will become obsolete as each machine will be able to operate and manage its data via the Blockchain.

Final Thoughts

There is no denying that technologies such as artificial intelligence and Blockchain are a once in a lifetime type of innovations.

Disruptive as they may be, the convergence of these two technologies can be quite beneficial. There already exists invaluable use- cases. Entrepreneurs are exploring more ways of implementing machine learning into distributed ledger systems.

What do you think about AI and Blockchain? Is there an intersection we missed? Talk with us in the comments section.

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