AI and Blockchain have been making waves in the tech world for several years now — key drivers to popular technologies like chatbots, cryptocurrency, personal assistants (i.e. Alexa), and robotics.
As these technologies individually mature and see a wider range of applications, it’s becoming more clear that they are headed towards a convergence, whether it be to improve self-driving cars or make mining Bitcoins more efficient.
TiE Inflect has put together a handy infographic on where both technologies stand, and how they can work together — however, if you’re unfamiliar with AI and Blockchain, here’s a little background on them:
Artificial Intelligence — AI for short — is the capability of a machine, such as a computer, to imitate intelligent human behavior. AI has been around for many years, however it wasn’t until recently when AI technologies made huge advancements, such as Natural Language Processing (the ability to process human language), Machine Learning (ability to learn new things without programming, and just data), and Deep Learning (ability to recognize patterns in sounds and images).
Some people think AI and the automation qualities it provides will lead to lost jobs, or worse, a dystopian world full of robots who rule humans. However, we only know of AI’s true power today, and it’s already proven to be beneficial to society. For instance, AI in driverless cars has the potential to save 300,000 lives in America, each decade — and today, smart AI-enabled voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant are in more than 4 billion devices around the world.
Industrially, AI is already making waves by improving areas like agriculture (intelligent monitoring of soil, crop predictions, and smarter machinery) and customer service (automation of customer interactions, commonly referred to as “chatbots”, eliminating mundane tasks).
The Blockchain is a public, immutable, and decentralized ledger of digital transactions. It uses cryptography to keep exchanges secure. Blockchain technology enables consumers and suppliers to eliminate middlemen, such as banks, creating a person-to-person environment for transactions of all types. It’s the very same technology that Bitcoin is based off of.
Blockchain technology has garnered support from many famous and important people — including Richard Branson, Al Gore, and Bill Gates. It has gained so much traction, that 69% of banks around the world are experimenting with it, and by 2024, the global market value of Blockchain technology-enabled transaction platforms is expected to be worth $20 billion.
Beyond finance, Blockchain technology has many other applications worth noting: In the automotive world, it could be used to track the full history of a vehicle’s manufacturing process from assembly to delivery, for legal usage, Blockchain can improve the transparency and accessibility of contracts, and for education, a Blockchain ledger could help track a student’s academic information more accurately — useful when switching schools or classes.
How AI and Blockchain will change lives for the better
With both AI and Blockchain technologies garnering a wider range of applications, it is becoming more apparent that they should go beyond merely living side-by-side. In fact, these technologies can greatly benefit from one another — and while there are just too many applications to count, below are three huge ones:
Improving citizenship in developing countries
Many underdeveloped countries have incomplete citizenship registrations and missing birth records. AI could allow records to be analyzed, helping governments make better decisions regarding healthcare, immigration, and much more.
The addition of Blockchain technology as the backbone of the ID system can ensure that the records never get lost.
Elimination of blood diamonds
Everledger is a Blockchain created by IBM to tackle fraud in the diamond industry. It’s Powered by IBM Watson, an AI platform — which enables diamonds around the world to be intelligently cross-checked with advanced analytics that track regulation, IoT data, records, and more.
IBM’s technology tracks more than 1.2 million diamonds on a single, permanent ledger, giving them digital “thumbprints”. Technologies like these have the capability to track the origin and destination of many other conflict resources to ensure that items like these don’t enter the global supply chain.
Super efficient Bitcoin mining
Bitcoins are “mined” and added to the Blockchain — that is, put into circulation. To mine them, powerful computers are programmed to solve complex puzzles, by basically guessing a bunch of numbers until they get the right one.
With AI technologies like Machine Learning, computers have the capability to learn complex tasks without needing to be programmed — meaning they can eventually learn how to solve the Bitcoin mining puzzles quicker and more effienctly with practice, like a Rubik’s Cube master.
To learn more about an AI and Blockchain convergence, you can read the below infographic, put together by TiE Inflect, an entrepreneurship conference focusing on the business and human aspect of AI.