Blockchain & Artificial Intelligence

Blockchain technology could lead to an AI truly reminiscent of the human brain, with less of its frailties, and more of its strengths. Just as a brain is not inherently dictated by a single neuron, neither is the technology behind bitcoin. The advantage (and opportunity) in this sense, is the advent of an amalgamation of many nodes bridged together to form an overall, singular function. This very much resembles the human brain (just as billions of neurons and synapses work in unison). If we set our sights on the grander vision of things, humans could accomplish great things if we utilize this technology to create a truly life-like Artificial Intelligence. At the same time, we need to keep in mind the dangers of such an intelligence being built upon a faultless system that has no single point of failure.

Just as any technology has upsides and corresponding downsides, this is no exception. The advantages of this technology are seemingly endless. In the relevant sense, it has the ability to create internet services without the same downfalls exploited in the TV show ‘Mr. Robot,’ where a hacker group named “fsociety” breached numerous data centers and effectively destroyed every piece of data the company held, causing worldwide ramifications across all of society. Because blockchain technology ensures no centralized data storage (by using all network users as nodes to spread information), it can essentially be rendered impossible to take down. Without a single targeted weak point, this means a service that, in the right hands, doesn’t go offline from heavy loads, which speeds up as more people use it, has inherent privacy/security safeguards, and unique features that couldn’t be achieved with conventional technology. In the wrong hands, however, this could be outright devastation. Going forward, we must tread lightly and not forget to keep tabs on this technology, as it could run rampant and destroy society as we know it.

Throughout the ages, society has always experienced mass change; the difference here being the ability for it to wipe us out. Therefore, it arises from a survival imperative that we strive for the former rather than the latter. We can evolve without destroying ourselves, but it won’t be a cakewalk. With our modern-day luxuries, we, as a species think ourselves invincible, while, in reality, we’re just dressed-up monkeys operating shiny doomsday technology. Just as it was a challenge to cross the seas, to invent tools and harness electricity, the grandest stakes posed by the future (and the ones defining our survival) are the most difficult to accomplish.

So, why the fear-inducing mindset towards blockchain+AI technology? The reason is because, if every computer and device is another node in a vast system, the computational power becomes untenable. Imagine an intelligence without the barriers of the human body: where intelligence and headspace are not limited by biological makeup, nor abilities burdened by a limited skull size and reaction time. Now, add the power of all supercomputers on earth combined, and then some. Then, to top it off, make it impossible to shut down without decimating the very communication systems we rely upon in our daily lives. Picture the oversight of a single flaw that could turn such an intelligence against us, and you begin to realize we’re essentially screwed. At that point, no drastic measure would make a difference, such as a government bombing a city to diminish a super-intelligent AI’s computational resources (since every device is a part of the AI’s hive mind). That in itself still wouldn’t destroy the power necessary for such an intelligence to outsmart our human minds and enslave/destroy us. With such a danger posed by this technology, it should become apparent that there’s a dire necessity for society to focus on addressing these hazards before they arise.

At worst, with unlimited scale-up ability and overarching power, this AI becomes the only legacy of the human race, while the archaic remains of our species rot away into the ageing Earth. At best, it becomes our savior, and the key to certain ascension (and the impending, unfathomable consciousness that’d undoubtedly follow). All problems we face could be solved, and technological advancement would become self-procuring from the genius proclivity of such an intelligence.

So, with these dangers a cautionary reminder of the subsequent future (should we fail), how do we strive to ensure that such a machine intelligence uses blockchain technology to elevate humanity rather than hinder it? That’s the trillion-dollar question. I believe that if we utilized such a technology without internet access, we can test it within an offline sandbox that allows the AI to benefit from the nodal network as a “scaled brain” type model, whilst still remaining at the whim of human control. With access to an offline database of media and written content we provide it, and locally connected nodes, it can still process information and learn to make new connections in the way that we do. Since it wouldn’t have internet access, it couldn’t hack into core systems that govern society, were it to go rogue. To me, this seems like a compromise worth taking, due to such uncertainty. Since it couldn’t be connected online, it would require a supercomputer up to the task. This could possibly be done by utilizing a few different blockchains that each have their own separate tasks in relation to the overall functioning of the intelligence. These blockchains could be online, as they don’t interact with each other, but each blockchain could be periodically downloaded on a separate computer, then locally transferred to the offline AI. I believe this could be the best of both worlds, as it could meet the scaling abilities necessary for a true AI, without the dangers of it having online access. More thought would need to go into devising successful use of such a system.

When faced with the peril of the cold war, we avoided a nuclear holocaust. We can avoid an AI apocalypse, too. Together as one world of scientists, entrepreneurs and creatives, we have the responsibility to maintain watch over the slippery slope that such AI applications pose. And I, for one, am optimistic. At the same time, I am a realist, and I see the need for someone to focus on this. For this reason, my company aims to grow by literally enriching the lives of our users through cryptocurrency, and giving a good chunk of our proceeds to the Lifeboat Foundation, whose goal is to safeguard humanity from existential threats (such as AI). By dedicating our focus to this issue, we can solve it — human resiliency proves this; so long as we hold the foresight to what matters, the ceiling of consciousness is limited only by our dreams.