Blockchain in the World of Artificial Intelligence

The most recent great new thing that has caught the public’s attention is artificial intelligence. The popularity and investment potential of programs like Open AI’s ChatGPT coupled with a sense that crypto (and the blockchain) have lost their way and have contributed to a sense that blockchain is on the way down while AI is ascending. However, there is a place for blockchain in the world of artificial intelligence and a place for AI in the various applications of blockchain.

Can Blockchain Keep AI from Taking Over the World?

Movies like Terminator where a super intelligent computer system tries to wipe out humankind provide a dark side view of the risks of artificial intelligence. AI may well take over the world but not by wiping out all humans. Rather it is more likely to virtually eliminate any real data privacy, replace humans in many repetitive tasks, and allow for consolidation of power by large corporations and nation states.

The bright side of AI is that properly targeted applications may find more cures for cancers and other diseases, prolong life, and make life-sustaining systems like energy grids greatly more efficient and safer. A likely place for the blockchain in this brave new world may be in providing a distributed network watchdog for AI applications thus providing the sort of transparency and accountability that uber-centralized systems lack.

Blockchain vs AI

Blockchain and artificial intelligence are totally different beasts. Artificial intelligence applications require blazingly fast processing of monstrous amounts of data. These systems are centralized and their inner workings are not visible to those on the outside. Blockchain is decentralized, not nearly so fast as AI applications, and much more useful for allowing outsiders with the time and interest to see what is going on inside. Where these different systems can come together is where AI analyzes and processes data, creates things like smart contracts, and automates processes and the blockchain offers secure data management and storage, automated process execution, and recording of smart contracts. With such a system AI provides the speed and “intelligence” while the blockchain offers security and transparency.

Preserving Security and Trust in the World of Big Data

Data management for applications like health care systems requires that personal information remain secure while at the same time being freely available to users of the system. One problem of this sort of system is that sensitive information may be recorded in more than one location. For example, in a patient’s medical records there is data in laboratory and Xray reports about their medical condition as well as in physician’s notes, nursing notes, and pathology reports.

In the physical world these bits of data are not stored in the same places and the same may well be true when the data is transferred to an AI system that automates this data. Then add billing and administrative information that needs patient-specific data and you have another layer of info that can be accessed by those with no good reason to have such access. Because people typically cannot see inside such an AI system there are both issues of security and issues of trust. By adding blockchain to the equation, its innate transparency will serve as a remedy to both security and trust problems that are inherent in the evolving world of artificial intelligence.

Positive Aspects of Coupling Blockchain with AI Applications

There are several specific ways in which blockchain coupled with AI can provide better, safer, and more trustworthy services. Transparency, security, improved data management, better scalability, and improved automation are all end results that can come from combining blockchain systems with artificial intelligence applications.

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