Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence

Blockchain can help mitigate worst aspects of AI

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With the rapid rise of generative AI models capable of creating texts, pictures, and even videos virtually indistinguishable from reality, policymakers globally are on the back foot.

Across the world, governments are scrambling for solutions that can bring some much-needed accountability to both creators and users of AI applications. While some, such as the European Union, have been relatively quick to pass regulations like the AI Act, others appear to have no plan. Worse yet, it’s not certain that regulations around AI can even be enforced properly in an increasingly globalized world.

Yet another technology that debuted on the world stage 15 years ago with the release of Bitcoin is increasingly being considered a potential solution for creating AI accountability. Blockchain technology may be about to find its killer use case.

An immutable evidence trail

Like all new technologies that take the world by storm, the common theme in all of the problems linked to AI is accountability.

If a deepfake of a politician admitting to a heinous crime goes viral and costs them the election, how do we discover who did it?

Where an AI model developed by a trading house crashes a national economy and causes financial instability, how do we hold the developers accountable?

Should AI be used to power an autonomous weapon that attacks a civilian center during a war? How do we discover who programmed it and hold them accountable?

The first step is finding out who did what and when. As distributed tamper proof databases with time-stamped records of everything, blockchains are the ideal tool for gathering evidence, which in turn can be used to enforce regulations.

While it’s always going to be challenging to stop a rogue terrorist group in the Afghan mountains from using AI to generate deepfakes to further their political agenda, countries can mandate that AI model developers use scalable public blockchains to keep immutable records of the development process, with changes, decisions, and other significant events etched into the ledger forever.

In addition to making it easier to enforce regulations, a provable evidence trail would naturally disincentivize much bad behavior in the first place. After all, people are less inclined to steal when they know a CCTV is watching them. Yet, this doesn’t have to lead to a world without privacy; quite the opposite.

Privacy and accountability combined

At the recent London Blockchain Conference, FICO’s Scott Zoldi explained how the data analytics company uses a private blockchain to create accountability in AI. It stores the evidence trail on a private blockchain, which regulators can access as needed.

However, private blockchains have their limitations, one is that they are essentially databases controlled by the same entities regulators may be trying to investigate.

The solution is scalable public blockchains like BSV. These allow for sensitive data to be stored in private overlay networks while being linked back to cryptographic hashes of the data on a public chain. In this way, regulators can verify that data in the private networks has not been altered since its creation. Thus, we have an immutable evidence trail with sensitive data kept away from prying eyes but linked directly back to a public record that cannot be tampered with.

Applied to the development of AI models, this would allow for data about the scientists and engineers, as well as any intellectual property and other confidential information about the models themselves, to be kept private while linking them back to a time-stamped record on a public, immutable blockchain that verifies what the sequestered data says.

Is this pie-in-the-sky hypothetical, or does it have any basis in reality? As a matter of fact, Sentinel Node and Trace App, both blockchain apps developed in conjunction with IBM (NASDAQ: IBM), are already live and utilizing exactly what is described above.

It’s only with the unanticipated explosion of generative AI models that the importance of such a technology is finally being realized. Of course, for it to work, the blockchain will need to be unboundedly scalable, and policymakers worldwide will have to recognize its potential as a solution and have the political will to mandate its use.

In order for artificial intelligence (AI) to work right within the law and thrive in the face of growing challenges, it needs to integrate an enterprise blockchain system that ensures data input quality and ownership—allowing it to keep data safe while also guaranteeing the immutability of data. Check out CoinGeek’s coverage on this emerging tech to learn more why Enterprise blockchain will be the backbone of AI.

Watch: How blockchain will keep AI honest

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