The Marriage of AI and Blockchain
A look at the tech
Blockchain and AI are among the top technological conversations taking place in the innovation centers around the world.
A high level view of these system tells us that one is a centralized intelligence leveraging mountains of data, while the other is a decentralized network of nodes that generate a chained list of trusted events.
If it was not obvious, AI filled the first definition, with blockchain being the latter. A question that is on the minds of entities in both industries is the following, “How will these two disruptive technologies come together and leverage the others’ strengths?”.
This article aims to direct the reader in conceptualizing The Marriage of Blockchain and AI.
The cohort of developers that are working with AI is a limited subset of computer scientists, with blockchain developers representing an even smaller subset of this community.
It is true, the talent pool for technical skills across the globe is not coming close to meeting the growing demands of the industry. This hinders growth and innovation for the respective industries. To marry the two industries would require industry specialists from both sides to come together to form a coalition of developers and business professionals ready to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.
On a more positive note, these respective industries are progressing at an alarming pace, although in parallel streams of momentum. Blockchain has been around for just 10 years, but has captured the headlines countless times in all corners of the globe. The Bitcoin and Ethereum developer communities are leading the bulk of development in the space, however, niche blockchain projects like Linux’ Hyperledger Framework and BlockOne’s EOS blockchain have earned their rightful place in the industry.
It’s possible that both AI and blockchain won’t take their place amongst revolutionary technologies until the two of them can learn to work together. They may just be waiting for a cyber pastor to tie their knot, and consummate the marriage.
The Use Cases
Earlier in the article, it was mentioned that blockchains produce mountains of data, with each record, representing a fact that something has occurred. Usually, and in the case of Bitcoin, those events are transfers of ownership. Observe the following two statements.
Blockchains, in general, have applications outside tracking monetary transactions. Tracking highly detailed events is within the capabilities of blockchain.
Some AI systems arrive at answers to problems that us humans struggle to solve, but we have no idea how it solved that problem.
These two facts inform the use cases discussed below.
Learning from the Machine
A blockchain could reliably, accurately, and chronologically record each and every step that an AI is taking in order to solve a problem. This would be very useful in determining its approach to solve a particular problem. Us humans could finally learn how neural networks reach their final miraculous conclusions to some of the worlds toughest problems. While this is a use case that would be interesting to implement, the economic incentive is not immediately apparent. Let’s look at a slightly more interesting problem that we can all relate to, energy production.
Managing our Power
Managing our electrical grids takes a lot of effort and coordination from many parties. From the suppliers of raw fuel used to run power plants, to the grid facilitators, the network we have in place to keep the lights on is nothing short of a patchwork behemoth. Could our electrical grids benefit from AI and blockchain?
How, you might ask? Keep reading to find out.
Smart-Grids are already being implemented across developing nations. It is important for us to improve the old grid that began to be put in place in the late 1800’s. Smart grids are defined as digital instrumentation that is able to coordinate and respond dynamically to end-user electrical demand. Our grids have expanded to a size that is not easily managed by our existing tools.
Blockchains gives us reliable streams of information, while AI knows how to leverage and respond to that information. It would seem that AI and blockchain are prime technological candidates for facilitating the power-grid upgrade.
A Terrible Waste
One particular case that an intelligent grid manager would be able to respond to is the over-production of electricity. Currently, if our power plants produce more energy than what the grid needs, the excess energy either re-distributed to another geographical area or discharged into the ground. The implication of the latter is that the energy we spent to harvest and transport the coal to the power plant was just used to pump electricity into the earth, stopping it from ever having a practical use.
An AI would be able to learn from our energy consumption patterns and accordingly decrease the amount of electricity being generated in the first place.
The Tokenization of Energy
Blockchain has a handy by-product of being able to reliably track abstract units, or tokens. One marvellous use-case of blockchain is to tokenize units of electricity, making them a tradable, or transferable, asset.
Imagine a world where your neighbour needs an extra Kilowatt (KwH) to run their household during a power outage. You are producing electricity with the solar panels you mounted on your house last summer, storing excess electricity in your brand new Tesla home battery. You can hop on Whats-App and send them some of your excess electricity, as simply as you would send them a text message.
A system like this could incentivize the self production of electricity, and encourage innovators to create even more interesting forms of harnessing and storing energy. If more people are producing electricity, then we could connect with our AI powered Overlord, and sell our energy back into the grid. At present, our grids are mediated by centralized entities who set the price, and put caps on the amount of green energy we can produce and sell back to the grid. Blockchain allows us to remove that third party, and trade energy on a peer to peer basis.
A peer to peer energy economy might be the grassroots movement that will help us all move into a greener energy economy. As it currently stands, green energy is becoming more accessible to the general household. Solar panels are improving in their efficiency and installation while investment costs are being subsidised by the government.
Once the smart-grid is in place, we can teach our AI to prefer green energy, over alternative energy production methods. This would certainly be one approach for curbing our reliance on burning fossil fuels for our everyday electrical needs.
If all of this sounds like a fantasy, check out this article for an example of a working model. It is about a district in Bangkok that generates and trades energy on a blockchain platform. The future is here, we just need to bring it to our corner of the world.
Atlantic Blockchain Company believes in a more sustainable future, one where our society is less reliant on dirtier methods of producing electricity. One where humans can effortlessly collaborate and work together with each other, and our mechanical counterparts.
With blockchain having the ability to form collaborative networks that record mountains of trusted data, and our future AI overlords’ ability to leverage this data to intelligently manage massively complex networks of resources, we are at a position to be the aforementioned cyber pastor that ties the knot, or … better yet, the chain that unites these two emerging technologies.