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Can blockchain supply the guardrails to keep AI on course?

Can blockchain supply the guardrails to keep AI on course?


Artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain are two emerging digital technologies that have sparked public interest and concern. One question is whether these two technologies can be integrated to benefit humanity. Several reasons suggest that this may be possible. Vitalik Buterin wrote in 2016 that addressing the safety challenges of AI and crypto economics communities are essentially addressing similar problems. Both rely on “dumb” systems resulting in inflexible properties that once created cannot be changed. This is where smart contracts come into play. ChatGPT and other generative AI tools have raised concerns about losing control of AI models, leading to a growing belief that blockchains and smart contracts can help regulate AI models to ensure responsible artificial intelligence.

At the recent SmartCon 2023 conference, the idea that AI and blockchain can work together was a topic of discussion. A survey commissioned by Casper Labs also revealed that almost half of IT leaders surveyed agreed that the integration of AI and blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize the industry by enhancing data security, transparency, and efficiency.

The basic concept is that blockchains, together with smart contracts, could act as guardrails for AI implementations. Furthermore, with the emergence of AI safety and security standards, issued by President Joe Biden, there is a growing momentum in considering the impact of AI and the role of blockchain in regulating it.

However, there are obstacles to overcome, including scaling, as permissionless blockchains may be inefficient in running complex applications. Despite this, some believe that if smart contracts become reliable, they can serve as verification mechanisms for international agreements governing AI systems.

At the same time, blockchain’s transparency could indirectly address the “black box” challenge by providing an audit trail to ensure data integrity, provenance, and transparency in the data sets used to train AI models. Likewise, blockchain has been suggested to be potentially useful as a “kill switch” for out-of-control AI models.

Though some are optimistic about the integration of AI and blockchain, there are also suspicions and concerns in the AI community about crypto and blockchain, given incidents of scams and other unsavory behavior. Nonetheless, there is growing interest and movement in the space, with funding proposals for AI/Blockchain projects on the rise.

Ultimately, both the AI and blockchain communities have a lot to learn from each other, as the potential to integrate these technologies opens doors for innovative applications and new approaches to addressing challenges caused by advanced AI systems.