One of today’s prime trends – blockchain technology – has the remarkable potential to empower other mega-trend, artificial intelligence.
Regardless of the ongoing Facebook confidentiality scandal, private companies including Facebook, Baidu, Google and Alibaba are continuing to collect and store a surprising amount of consumer data. Increasingly, data analysts are employing AI algorithms and tools to mine these data-sets – known as big data. However, the Internet of Things (IoT) with autonomous cars and Wi-Fi enabled devices will create enormous challenges regarding storage of data. Google’s self-driving vehicle generates roughly 1 GB of data per second, how will current systems cope in a world with every autonomous vehicle sending an approximate 2 Petabytes of data to the cloud per annum? How can this volume of data be stored? And kept secure?
The roots of block-chain technology
One possible solution for storing this volume of data safely was conceived in 1989. Triple entry accounting invention by Professor Yuji Ijiri– was the first time in history that a third party could independently approve accounting methods. In 2005, a more developed example of this system was brought out by cryptographer Ian Grigg. The following year, the group of developers known by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto released the influential Bitcoin whitepaper, and a new aeon was born.
The first successful example of Professor’ Ijiri’s triple entry accounting system was – the digital currency with no centralized trust. Two parties who didn’t know each other could exchange value because transactions were recorded on a peer-to-peer distributed timestamp server – the block-chain.
The blockchain on which bitcoin depends on is a public digital ledger that not only keeps a record of transactions but is geographically decentralized. In a network of the block-chain, blocks of information provide a track of transactions and are cryptographically linked to the previous blocks. This provides an unchangeable record of all transactions that every person in the system can trust because it can be independently audited.
How is blockchain useful for AI?
AI engineers can form blocks of AI that can work in tandem with other blocks. As information stored on blockchains allow anyone to share information simultaneously without having to trust each other surely, the implications for AI are enormous. Governments could use blockchains to share and store a wealth of information. For example, big data collected from traffic could be studied by data scientists to evaluate traffic patterns. Vehicle registrations could be stored on blockchains so that governments, law enforcement organizations and insurance companies could verify the identity of it.
What aspects blockchain makes it usable for AI?
AI certification courses have seen more people enrolling in them lately to get a better understanding of how AI might affect their field of work. Even as the difference between artificial intelligence and machine is becoming more evident, blockchain technology remains in the shadows with not much known about its influence. So what is it about blockchain that makes it useful for AI?
Immutability is a fundamental feature of blockchain with each block cryptographically linked to the previous block. In the context of cryptocurrencies, this helps prevent fraud since the links between the blocks provide computational proof of the order in which the transactions took place.
Let’s see how this impacts the AI applications. Let’s assume some bank uses some AI algorithm to develop software to detect fraudulent transactions. The decisions taken by this algorithm would prove to be difficult to understand. If these decisions were recorded, at every instant, on a blockchain, then auditing the program, i.e. verifying the accuracy of the algorithm by humans, would become simpler
Decentralization is another significant aspect of the blockchain technology. For example of AI-powered, autonomous vehicles are expected to create a vast amount of data. It is practically infeasible to store such large volumes of data centrally. Geographically decentralized storage of such data would prove to be far more efficient and a practical solution.
Transparency is another important aspect of blockchain that makes it useful for AI. Transparency means that everyone can download and view the transactions made. However, even though anyone can see the data, it is immutable, i.e. it cannot be changed.
Continuing with the example of autonomous cars, imagine that the vehicle meets with an accident. In such a case, if the data were stored on a blockchain, then all the parties gain access to the data related to the accident. This would reduce to a great extent the disputes related to the accident.
What can blockchain and AI do together?
As we’ve seen, this technology has the remarkable potential to empower AI. Here are some real-time examples of the possibilities that combining these two technologies will bring about.
- Data Privacy
As all data stored on blockchains is exceptionally secure as its being encrypted, blockchains can assistance overcome some of the data privacy big data has already formed. Even actions such as Amazon applying AI algorithms to customer data to predict what upcoming purchases they would like can be seen as an invasion of privacy. Even though this data has been stored as cryptographic hashes on blockchains, consumers could independently verify or audit what data was held about them. AI technology is already being developed that can work with encrypted data. This will give the public trust that their data is being securely handled and less likely to be uncovered due to a hack or breach.
- Proven Retail
Retailers can merge AI with blockchain technology to make decisions on which products should be stored and where. For instance, H&M feeds vast amounts of transactional data into AI systems to make these types of choices. If this data were stocked on an immutable blockchain, reviewing the decisions made by the AI algorithms would be far simpler.
AI is integrated with data; Blockchain is the path leading to secure data transfer over the internet. While both AI and blockchain technology are revolutionary in their rights, there exists a clear case-use for combining them. Doing so will unlock the infinite potential for giving people improved oversight over both types of technology.
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