The implications of AI on the Blockchain
If you’ve seen the 2016 movie “Nerve” starring Emma Roberts and Dave Franco, you have some idea of what a Blockchain/AI and Distributed Autonomous Organization can be. In the movie the main protagonists play an online social network game, in which participants fulfill “dares” to gain social currency (likes). The “dares” get progressively “dangerous”, and when the protagonists attempt to find the creators of the game (and the servers it is hosted on), in order to shut it down; they realize that there is no single game creator or hosted server, and that the game code is open source, distributed, and powered by the collective group of the tens of thousands that play the game.
This is what a DAO or a Distributed Autonomous Organization looks like!
While of course the movie is the Hollywood interpretation, they were pretty accurate when it came to describing what a DAO is, who powers it, and what it is capable of.
So what really is the DAO and how does Blockchain and AI fit into it!?
So before I came across the concept of the DAO, I would read articles on how AI can take over the world. I scoffed at these as the creative, imaginative, and cliched ramblings of Orwellian futurists. Stories of Skynet, Terminator like machines, John Conner, iRobot, are great at garnering big moola at the box office, or for good viewing on Netflix on a lazy Saturday afternoon!
When I asked Alexa simple questions, she (or perhaps it!) could not perform the basics of tasks.
“Alexa, can you turn on the TV and tell me what the weather is going to be like?”
Alexa: “I’m sorry I don’t understand what you mean”, OR
Alexa: “Here are the top google results for … blah blah blah!”
AI and Machines taking over the world!! Really (scoffs!!)!?? And its 2018, where the heck is my self driving car already!!
I found no credibility in the reality of machines and AI taking over the world!
However let’s take another look at AI combined with Blockchain, and see the potential implications.
Blockchain and AI
We all know that Blockchain is a distributed ledger system that is an immutable store of data. This means that data stored on the block chain cannot be changed. Also, a copy of the blockchain is maintained within all the distributed nodes of the blockchain, thereby ensuring additional fault tolerance and redundancy.
A computer program once stored on a Blockchain is impervious to tampering or change, and there is no way to stop it from executing its instructions. The only way to “stop” the code from executing is to bring down the entire blockchain (i.e. the 51% attack).
Now imagine that you have an AI program that is stored on the blockchain. The purpose of this AI program may be anything, let’s say the purpose is to have a social network that has a high degree of user stickiness (much like the Nerve App in the movie). Once this program is stored in the Blockchain, the program cannot be changed. Also, there is no central server to shut down the program since the program is replicated and can be executed on every node of the blockchain.
Now if the AI is programmed to self sustain, it can power itself on the blockchain with no external intervention. The AI can use part of it’s computing power to gather more user stickiness, and in turn would use the rewards it gets, to invest in more computing power. Blockchain combined with AI can become this unstoppable machine that is powered by every single node of the blockchain and uses its rewards to in turn increase its number of nodes and mining resources.
The Decentralized Autonomous Organization
So now imagine a computer program, that lives on a Blockchain (so it cannot be changed), and is replicated and executed by every node of that is part of that Blockchain community (so it cannot be shut off, except by controlling 51% of the network). If these computer programs are rules that encoded to run an organization, that is the DAO.
A decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), sometimes labeled a decentralized autonomous corporation (DAC), is an organization that is run through rules encoded as computer programs called smart contracts — Wikipedia
Now, in all fairness the concept of the DAO is not as nefarious or maliciously intent as depicted in the movie.
In fact the DAO has been a great mechanism for crowdfunding and raising venture capital, without the need for an investment bank or a third party trusted entity. This is because all the rules of the venture/corporation, can be encoded into computer programs (smart contracts) and can be viewed by anyone that is part of the blockchain!
DAO is a fairly new concept in organizational structure and is truly a “distributed” organization, with no single entity representing the corporation. The legal status of the DAO corporation is still evolving, although currently a DAO is viewed as a “General Partnership”, with each member of the blockchain having potential unlimited legal liability.
So DAO and the Blockchain/AI technology has a great potential. However the Hollywood rendering of these technologies cannot be considered too far fetched, as it is possible for a collective group of individuals driving an AI/Blockchain on their nodes (smartphones/computers) to determine the fate and shape the direction that the AI takes. The distributed nature of Blockchain means that the AI on a Blockchain cannot be easily shutoff, and thus becomes a self perpetuating machine.
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