Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the major technologies of our time. It has introduced numerous innovations, many of which we are not even aware of as we use apps employing it. The blockchain is the other technological breakthrough that is introducing radical shifts in the way we store information amongst its many other potential uses.
Each of these technologies has its own complexity and business use cases, but what would happen if we brought the two together? There are some interesting possibilities, benefits and challenges arising from coupling them.
The blockchain technology is a “foundational technology” changes the basis of relationships from a centralised model to a decentralised one. It has the potential through the distributed ledger technology (DLT) to “reduce both the costs of verification and networking, influencing then the market structure and eventually allowing the creation of new marketplaces.” It could change business models, because it doesn’t just store information or allow transactions, it can also support smart contracts that operate effortlessly.
AI could change various current aspects of the blockchain. For example, mining new blocks on the blockchain uses a lot of electricity. AI is known to optimise energy consumption, so this is one way in which it could positively affect the blockchain and the mining operations.
It could also solve the blockcian’s scalability issues with the use of an AI sharding technique or decentralised learning system. Security is another major headache for the blockchain. It is supposed to be unhackable, but theft from exchanges like Mt. Gox and Bitfinex show that isn’t the case. AI could come into play here and add another level of security.
Of course, the blockchain may also have an effect on AI. It could help AI explain itself by providing a clear audit trail. It could also make it more effective by supporting better AI models, actions, results and networks. And it could increase artificial trust. For example, where bots manage various tasks, the clear audit trail will help these bots to trust each other more.
So far, we have not seen many companies operating an AI-blockchain convergence, with the majority in the decentralised intelligence sector, although there are a few in conversation platforms, trading, intellectual property and data provenance. But, they are literally a handful, and it is still difficult to assess the potential impact of bringing these two world-changing technologies together.