In today’s world, it is impossible not to acknowledge the impact of technology on development and organizational growth. The use of technology is practically indispensable; it is present in every sector and industry, in small, medium, or large enterprises.
What drives the technology innovation the most is the convenience behind it. Innovation means not only profitability but also about productivity and responsibility. While the most obvious benefit of technology is increased productivity, there are other benefits such as reduce costs and help growth.
Historically, the invention of the computer and the internet have impacted the way the organizations operate, e.g., from paper documents and telephone communication to digitized documents and video calls. Then the emergence of cloud computing has helped startups and enterprises to focus on their core values instead of dealing with system architecture. As the internet infrastructure and hardware capability mature, artificial intelligence started to boom and took center stage in several organizations’ business models. Google builds its entire business surrounding its data, while Facebook relies heavily on AI models to provide a better user experience.
“AI” is a broad term, but when we speak of AI nowadays, we meant machine learning, deep learning, and neural networks. When someone says AI can do this and that, the term “AI” usually refers to the algorithm or model trained by machine learning, deep learning, or neural network using big data. To keep things simple, the term “AI” is used in place of machine learning, deep learning, and neural networks.
Without going into too much detail, many problems that were unsolvable before can now be solved through data and AI. Most people don’t realize that artificial intelligence is actually embedded in our daily lives. AI exists on a wide spectrum, ranging from smart devices that are equipped with voice assistants; Snapchat Baby Face Filter that went viral (and boosted their stock price by 205% year to date); to the everyday applications that have already reached our homes, like chatbots and image recognition. AI is leading the development of today’s technology.
Blockchain is foreseen as the next wave of technology evolution. Blockchain is deemed to improve efficiency, track sources, fight counterfeits, and reduce costs. Out of those, improve efficiency and reduce costs align with the benefits of adopting AI, which makes the integration of AI and blockchain logical. Enabling AI on the blockchain offers us a more robust solution.
Here are the four possible ways to integrate AI with blockchain:
The most significant usage of AI is automation to improve efficiency and reduce errors. AI is exceptional at repetitive tasks, and they rarely make mistakes. Using AI to automate workflows ensures that the process to be automatically, consistently, and with less oversight. AI can replace human inputs while helping to manage the contributions humans still make, improving every aspect of the process.
Automation also allows humans to save their valuable time and focus on higher-level tasks. For example, for lawyers, the opportunity cost for them is exceptionally high. Instead of going through all the files and judgments to find proofs, their times are better used on other legal works.
Blockchain smart contract technology is designed to cut out the middlemen to provide a more streamlined and automated process. With AI + blockchain, human resources could be effectively redeployed to important tasks and leave the low-level functions to the machine.
AI may not be smart enough to make judgments like a human can, but it excels at remembering stuff and extracting meaningful insights from big data. When humans make decisions, we can only consider three to five factors at a time, whereas AI can analyze thousands of elements. Taking Facebook as an example, it is hard for us to know why users spend more time on a particular page but not another page, then provide ads to users based on that data. Humans simply can't judge the way AI can simultaneously. Therefore, automation may improve productivity and reduce costs, but insights help organizations to have competitive edges and stay in the game.
The second AI + blockchain opportunity lies on crawling and extracting data stored on the blockchain and turn them into actionable insights. It will be interesting to see what kind of insights to be discovered through the blockchain data.
Pretty much every application nowadays use some forms of AI, and we become more reliant on them. We rely on Uber to provide a real-time estimate for fare cost and arrival time. We use Google search engine to find answers and rarely go past the second page. We rely on Netflix's recommendation to determine what to watch next. All of these examples include tailored AI models to serve their specific purposes. There are many more use cases that we aren't exposed to, such as optimizing computer processing speed to reduce energy consumption and cost.
Providing a blockchain solution without involving any AI is like using a spear to kill a lion; it is an outdated practice! The third AI + blockchain opportunity is to utilize tailored AI models within dApps (decentralized applications) and make our lives better.
We are at the stage that is still using AI in a straightforward way. Even the most sophisticated AI product can only do a limited amount of tasks. Currently, only a small number of technology companies have access to data, computing power, and talents necessary to train AI algorithms. Businesses leverage these resources to create artificial intelligence products and monetize through them. Therefore, the fourth AI + blockchain opportunity is how to make AI much easier to use, more reliable, and more intuitive than it is today.
Blockchain's transparent and decentralized nature makes it a perfect platform to popularize AI to more people. Many believe the future of AI and humanity will come out better if a greater element of decentralized and widely participatory control is introduced into the picture. Promoting AI means that everyone and every organization can share their AI solutions.
Cortex, whom I worked for, is a project that provides the necessary technologies and tools to develop smart contracts with AI algorithms. It aims to put the tools for developing AI smart contracts into everyone's hands.
SingularityNet is another blockchain project dedicating to AI democratization. It aims to create a democratically governed network where users can access AI algorithms through SDK and API.
It is foreseen that the practical implementations of AI and blockchain to be fairly frictionless. The integration of AI + blockchain will bring structural changes to our homes, workplaces, and every industry. These next generations of technology could improve productivity and reduce costs, provide insights, help promote AI, and create an AI dApp that is suitable for today's needs.