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How Blockchain Is Set to Transform AI

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I say Blockchain. You think Bitcoin.

The conversation around blockchain was going around in circles for a while. Thankfully, as the Bitcoin hangover recedes, we start to take blockchain a little more seriously. Blockchain, owing to its decentralised public ledge has grabbed our interest as the next ‘it’ technology. One that addresses some of the most pressing concerns of today – security.

Artificial Intelligence or AI as it is popularly known, is another technology that has managed to generate quite the buzz. Be it the march of the machines or a sci-fi movie like future AI is the technology that everyone is talking about. Thankfully, once again, I’m glad that AI has shown that it is much more than what we initially thought of it. Today, AI is a technology changing industries and how we work. It is evolving rapidly and along with it; we are evolving to.

Interestingly, at the core of these two technologies lies data. One technology, AI, is getting smarter and more intelligent as data sources and computational powers increase. The other technology, Blockchain, makes sure that any changes to data are recorded in an unalterable, tamper-proof manner. Is it then a surprise to assume that these two technologies could marry and have their happily forever after?

So, if blockchain were to work with AI, what would it be able to do?

Trustworthy modeling and predictions

Good artificial intelligence programs are a direct result of the quality of the data at hand. You have bad data, and your program will be a hostage to it. Pretty much like the saying garbage in, garbage out. Now while blockchain does not ascertain the ‘quality’ of the data that goes in, it makes sure that once it does, it can never get tampered. So how can this help us? Recording AI on blockchain help us:

  • Identify and eliminate single points of code failure
  • Provide AI professionals a single source of accumulated knowledge
  • Ensure that the fields captured retain reliable operating parameters
  • Confidently replicate the same AI data for research purposes

AI and the audit trail

AI systems are getting more complex. As the conflict between smartness and transparencies continue to grow, the one way to solve the AI Blackbox explainability problem is to have a clear audit trail. How does this help us? Using blockchain, we can create a clean data footprint. This audit trail helps to determine the credibility of the data and the implemented models. This, in turn, offers a clean route to trace and track the machine decision process.

This audit trail also makes the data sharing conundrum easier to manage. AI demands the flexibility to move large data sets between multiple clients. Organisations thus need the bandwidth to accommodate this securely. Blockchain data sharing solutions enable this and makes it possible to produce more reliable results.

Greater control over data models and data usage

Just like how you relinquish the control of the data that you upload on a social platform, say Facebook or Twitter, the same concept applies to AI data and models as well.

The licenses, restrictions, and permissions are levied by you when creating data for model building in AI. Blockchain makes this process inherently easier. Since blockchain treats data as an asset, permissions to view or use this data is seen as the same. Much like how we transfer coins on cryptocurrency platforms, these permissions to access data on the network are easily transferable. This gives you the power to control how the data is being used for all the data sets that you own.

Large scale data management

The volume of data is growing exponentially. The amount of data currently available stands at 1.3 Zettabytes. Since blockchains are essentially distributed databases existing on millions of devices, securing data and preventing it from getting lost becomes inherently easier. Even in the case of catastrophic events, there will always be enough data copies to ensure that the system is unharmed and intact. With hacking also prevented owing to the unique structure of blockchain, AI, especially Artificial General Intelligence, can be modeled better. This also helps to ensure that autonomous agents can interact better with the physical environment.

Better solutions for tomorrow

The lack of structure to the laws of AI development and the constant threat to the technology are two of the greatest barriers to AI development. To eliminate these problems, among other things, we need to open the sharing of data and facilitate communication between different machines. Obviously, for this, we need to eliminate barriers to data inaccessibility and establish a proven encryption network. Blockchain helps in eliminating these barriers owing to its concept of peer-to-peer connection and encryptions on multiple levels in the blockchain.

In my opinion, we need to decentralise AI to unleash the real value of this technology. We need to move towards an environment where one AI program can learn and improve from another. Such a democracy would immensely benefit AI and its associated developments. And Blockchain technology holds the key to many answers that AI has been looking for. It is only a matter of time when these two converge to deliver the future to us in all its disruptive glory.