ChatGPT is the fastest growing consumer application of all time, according to research by banking giant UBS. This growth underscores the profound impact that artificial intelligence (“AI”) and related technologies (i.e. large language models, machine learning, and natural language processing) have already had on society. But like any promising new technology, AI also has the potential to harm. Could blockchain help meet some of these challenges? Here are three key areas where blockchain and artificial intelligence intersect:
Source: World of Statistics
- Verification and identity: Generative AI significantly lowers the barrier to content creation but also instigates a flood of misinformation and deepfakes. Establishing consensus on the authenticity of information is at the core of blockchain technology. For instance, a unique digital signature could be created for each piece of digital content and recorded on a blockchain, allowing anyone to verify the content's authenticity.
- Data privacy and ownership: Companies like Google, Facebook, and 23andme derive significant income from monetizing various forms of user data. It’s feasible that powerful AI systems could follow suit as consumer applications increase in popularity. Projects like the Brave browser demonstrate how blockchain could combat this trend by enabling individuals to maintain sovereign ownership over their personal data in a privacy-preserving manner as well as decide how and when it is shared and monetized.
- Centralization risk: AI's capital-intensive nature and tendency toward network effects could centralize power among an oligopoly, limiting alternative options for users. Crypto can democratize AI development by offering decentralized data and computation marketplaces. By incentivizing user participation through tokens, crypto could counterbalance AI-induced centralization.
Progress: The Intersection of Crypto and AI Today
While the convergence of crypto and AI is in its infancy, it has already garnered significant investor interest. So far in 2023, venture capitalists have invested $422 million specifically in crypto applications related to AI, privacy and identity. Notable raises include Worldcoin, a verification and identity-based protocol that raised $115 million in a Series C round, and Auradine, an AI and privacy-focused web3 infrastructure solution that secured $81 million in Series A funding.
Co-founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, Worldcoin’s blockchain-based "proof of humanity" system uses retinal scans to authenticate human users. The company's long-term vision is to combat the increasing presence of bots online and mitigate potential AI-related wealth inequality. So far, it has attracted 1.8 million sign-ups from dozens of countries.
As AI systems develop, the accompanying challenges and solutions will also evolve, increasing the intersection and synergies between crypto and AI. Can blockchain technology harness AI’s potential to empower society, while also mitigating AI’s potential risks?