Can AI and Blockchain Work Together for Human Benefit?
In the world of emerging digital technologies, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain has captured public attention and also raised serious concerns. The question of whether AI and blockchain can be integrated in a way that benefits humanity is a pressing one. The potential benefits of this integration are evident but so are the risks.
In 2016, Vitalik Buterin, a prominent figure in the cryptocurrency community, pointed out that the crypto economics and AI safety communities are trying to solve the same problem. They are both grappling with the challenge of regulating complex and intelligent systems with unpredictable emergent properties. Both AI and smart contracts rely on essentially inflexible systems once they are created. Buterin suggested that these two communities should listen to each other more, as they may have much to learn from each other.
Recent concerns about the runaway nature of AI, especially with the emergence of ChatGPT and other generative AI tools, have raised fears about humans losing control over autonomous weapons systems. The idea that blockchains and smart contracts can act as guardrails to prevent AI from veering off course is gaining traction. Allison Duettmann, president of the Foresight Institute, expressed that everyone working in the crypto space has a role to play in ensuring the safe development of artificial general intelligence (AGI).
A survey commissioned by Casper Labs found that almost half of IT leaders surveyed across the United States, Europe, and China agreed that the integration of AI and blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize industries, enabling enhanced data security, transparency, and efficiency.
The notion is that blockchains’ immutable, tamper-free ledgers and smart contracts can provide the guardrails for AI implementations, ensuring responsible artificial intelligence. Some believe that a blockchain could even serve as a “kill switch” for out-of-control AI models.
President Joe Biden’s executive order establishing new AI safety and security standards has created momentum. According to Mrinal Manohar, CEO and co-founder of Casper Labs, there is an increasing focus on AI governance among enterprise IT leaders. Despite obstacles such as scaling and validating transactions in decentralized blockchains, there is optimism about the potential for practical AI/blockchain projects in the near future.
Casper Labs proposes a hybrid blockchain model that combines permissioned and public blockchains to address scalability issues. The private blockchain is for fast-running and controlled operations, while the public blockchain is for version control and record-keeping. This model allows for transparency and tamper-proof data storage.
However, not everyone is convinced that blockchain can solve AI’s “black box” problem. Samir Rawashdeh, an associate professor and director of the Dearborn Artificial Intelligence Research Center at the University of Michigan, suggests that blockchain’s “transparency” does not necessarily make the underlying workings of AI models more understandable.
Despite the potential benefits, there are still suspicions within the AI community around integrating blockchain and AI. Nevertheless, some experts remain optimistic. Manohar believes that a blockchain-based “kill switch” could be an effective safeguard against nightmare scenarios involving AGI models.
The integration of blockchain and AI presents both promise and peril. As these two emerging technologies continue to evolve, careful consideration of the potential risks and benefits is essential.
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