Next Steps In The Integration Of Artificial Intelligence And The Blockchain

While a lot of AI technologies are owned and operated by centralized providers, a majority of the blockchain players in the market publish all of their …

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Having worked in the cryptography space for over two decades, and having been an active participant in the cryptocurrency evolution since its inception, I take a deep interest in the subject.In particular, I believe that the intersection of artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain is an exciting but challenging new development.

Matt Turck recently discussed why the topic matters and highlighted interesting projects in the space, referring to AI (big data, data science, machine learning) and blockchain (decentralized infrastructure) as the defining technologies of the next decade. Evidently, the time is already ripe for these new concepts, despite them being novel and still underdeveloped.

Intriguingly, AI and blockchain are philosophically different in various ways:

  1. AI is driven by more centralized infrastructures as opposed to blockchain’s decentralized, distributed nature.
  2. While a lot of AI technologies are owned and operated by centralized providers, a majority of the blockchain players in the market publish all of their codebases as open-source code that is freely available for anyone to inspect at any point in time.
  3. AI is more of a black-box solution for now, while the blockchain tends to be more transparent in all the transactions processed.
  4. AI is based on probabilistic formulas, while blockchain is more deterministic in nature.

Currently, AI startups are being overwhelmingly acquired by companies such as IBM, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Google, Intel and Alibaba, among others. These organizations rely on unprecedented amounts of data to train their AI agents, which offers them an immense competitive advantage. At the same time, their data and capabilities are closed from the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, centralized AI introduces room for abuse, such as massive surveillance of people using face recognition and computer-vision-powered technology. At the same time, creating solutions on top of a centralized environment requires enterprises to give up privacy and control of their data to other third parties.

Merging AI And Blockchain

This is where blockchain comes in, as it can be used to overcome many of AI’s shortcomings. I’ve seen it firsthand in our business, where we leverage a lot of AI and machine learning (ML) capabilities in order to better identify and authenticate users’ blockchain identities.

Currently, experts in this space are exploring ways through which blockchain can be deployed to create a decentralized marketplace to enhance AI. This course by MIT is just one indicator of the movement in this space. This will allow people to comfortably share their personally identifiable information (PII) with the assurance that it will remain secure and private through decentralization and secure computing offered by the blockchain. In effect, users can easily share their sensitive details, such as health and financial data, and the system would ensure that only the intended service provider would have the ability to decipher and decrypt users’ PII with explicit consent by the user. With time, I believe the space will have an accumulation of massive data maintained by big organizations using AI algorithms to stay competitive.

An article on Hackernoon lists some of the latest projects integrating blockchain and AI technologies to create cutting-edge solutions. Some of the more notable ones include SingularityNET, an AI marketplace where enterprises can acquire AI capabilities on a global scale to enhance the growth of the space. Another project is Namahe AI, a platform that aims to improve the efficiency of supply chains by integrating AI and blockchain to enable seamless monitoring of the processes in real time and flagging anomalies and fraud for review. Finally, there’s Numerai, an AI-based hedge fund that sponsors competitions for industry enthusiasts to develop and submit prediction models and solutions.

Challenges Of Merging AI And Blockchain

Obviously, AI solutions differ from legacy ones, since they follow probabilistic models. In other words, a traditional program follows the approach of “IF A happens, THEN follow B.” On the contrary, AI (deep learning and machine learning) uses probabilistic answers to follow a succeeding step. This feature of AI makes the technology ideal for creating flexible solutions. Nevertheless, the tradeoff is that some AI programs make mistakes.

To date, AI agents still go wrong in some cases, and it still remains difficult for users to know when it is wrong or what should be done when it makes a mistake. A few memorable examples include a Microsoft chatbot gone rogue, Wikipedia edit bots engaging in feuds among themselves, Uber’s self-driving cars ignoring red lights and Russian robot Promobot IR77 escaping the laboratory.

Another issue is compliance. It is still a major concern to control AI solutions from going rogue or causing damage. AI and blockchain solutions will require data aggregation, which is a real challenge. However, the internet of things (IoT) will be vital in the provision of data required for AI training. In effect, the security and privacy of privately owned data will be crucial in this space.

Talent is another challenge for merging blockchain and AI. While data, which is the primary factor for training AI models, can be gathered using IoT devices, professionals will be needed to develop algorithms that run in a decentralized or distributed manner as required in blockchain technology. Fortunately, organizations such as Deep Brain Chain and SingularityNET are continuously researching and creating innovative AI algorithms.

Computing resources still remain an issue in merging AI and blockchain. Luckily, it is possible to leverage global idle computing power to run resource-intensive AI training integrated with blockchain.

Conclusion

Some experts are now suggesting blockchain has the capability of decentralizing AI to achieve decentralized intelligence available to the masses. To reap the real benefits from their integration, I believe it will be imperative to address several major concerns: how to determine when an AI solution is wrong in its operations, how to train professionals in the field and the need to come up with appropriate compliance requirements to guide the development and deployment of the products. To make real progress, today’s players in the field should seek to break down these roadblocks and encourage blockchain and AI development in the real world.

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Scoop: Forbes is trying out the blockchain

Forbes, the century-old business publisher, is joining forces with Civil, a journalism blockchain network, to become the first major media company to …

The big picture: Forbes is experimenting with publishing a sample of its content to the Civil Network. Eventually, the broad goal is to one day migrate all of its published content over to the blockchain.

“We have an opportunity to participate in the development of this ecosystem and help shape it around our unique business model.”
— Salah Zalatimo, Senior Vice President of Product & Technology at Forbes

How it works: Forbes will plug in Civil’s software to its proprietary content management system called “Bertie.”

  • Once plugged in, Forbes journalists will be able to upload their metadata to the Civil network early next year, while simultaneously publishing to Forbes.com.
  • The company will begin uploading cryptocurrency content first — an editorial focus they’ve increased investment in lately. If the experiment works well, other topics will follow.

Between the lines: Civil has previously brokered a photo partnership with the AP using its blockchain technology for photos, but it’s the first media company to strike this type of a partnership around actual stories.

What’s next: Forbes specifically sees opportunities for it to expand the footprint of its extensive contributor network.

  • The company is exploring the use of “smart contracts” for their contributors to be able to upload content through Forbes’ CMS that can then be published to various outlets across the web, like Medium or LinkedIn, and to Forbes and Civil.
  • Through the tech that makes those contracts possible, contributors can time when content is published to various outlets, giving some outlets windows of exclusivity.
  • All transactions between Forbes and its contributors will be conducted on through Forbes’ CMS and are made possible though Civil’s software integration.

Between the lines: There’s been a lot of confusion about how Civil works and what exactly the benefits are for media publishers.

  • In short, Civil (the non-profit media company) is a decentralized, cloud-based ledger (think Google Sheets) that records when things are published and who published them. Civil Media Company doesn’t make any money, but the participants in the decentralized network, called the “Civil Network,” do.
  • Yes, but: There’s been some confusion around who has actually bought Civil tokens. Civil says it’s planning to publish a transparency report on Wednesday that aims to answer who has tokens and how many, so that people can visualize the Civil token ecosystem.

The bottom line: Forbes is in a better position if they get ahead of this new technology than if they wait for what they believe is inevitable.

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Blockchain in Aquaculture and Fisheries – How Blockchain Could Sustain the Seafood Industry

A blockchain startup aims to establish a global decentralized database for a secure and sustainable future for the seafood industry.
seafood platterNews

Bitcoinist

Bitcoinist| Oct 09, 2018 | 07:30


A blockchain startup aims to establish a global decentralized database for a secure and sustainable future for the seafood industry.


The Blockchain startup, Fishcoin, is bidding to keep the seafood industry sustainable through an incentivized and decentralized global database that could improve resource management.

The total global fish production in 2016 hit 171 million tons, an all-time high, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, with 88 percent of that figure being utilized for human consumption. The FAO projects that by 2030, global fish consumption will be 20 percent higher than 2016 levels.

Fishcoin and many other eminent scientific agencies believe this could lead to one of the most valuable industries on the planet that could collapse under the sheer weight of its own growth. This is why the UN World Food Program’s SDG2 Advocacy Hub is one key partner lending their collaboration to Fishcoin in order to accelerate the move towards more sustainable seafood production. The Fishcoin project is proposing to bring this under control by improving data collection and sharing using decentralized ledger technology.

Fishcoin’s whitepaper argues that a majority of agricultural industries are using data to increase “efficiency and innovation”, and that seafood is behind on this aspect of development.

According to the company, through this novel blockchain system, the seafood industry is incentivized to collect and input data that occurs at every part of the chain; subsequently, the entire industry can benefit from a data pool that is conducive to a healthier ecosystem.

Incentives are provided in the form of Fishcoin tokens. The first receiver in the supply chain purchases from a seafood producer, and the Key Data Elements (KDEs) such as name, location, fish type, weight and so on are accepted and agreed by two parties. Then a smart contract is made, the product data is referenced on the blockchain along with the identities of the parties, and the producer receives their tokens. The tokens are then able to be converted to mobile airtime topups with other incentive options possible in the future.

As the amount of collected data increases on the transparent and traceable network, resources can be managed better and the production and efficiency of seafood goods could improve at all points along the supply chain. Fishcoin believes this will lead to a far more “sustainable, responsible and profitable” seafood industry.

In action

Fishcoin also plans to have a direct impact on the global seafood workforce. The FAO’s findings approximate that almost 60 million people from around the world are in direct employment with fisheries or aquaculture.

Additionally, Mukihisa Kituyi, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said in an interview that there are “some additional 200 million direct and indirect jobs that occur along the value chain.”

Fishcoin has already established several industry partnerships with prominent stakeholders. As published on Fishcoin’s Medium posts, some of these partnerships are with leading academic institutions, with the goals of researching and studying the opportunities offered by the blockchain to aquaculture; others are behemoth entities in the seafood industry, such as Thai Union who are working to introduce domestic aquaculture businesses to Fishcoin.

Fishcoin is an initiative led by an eco-friendly tech company called Eachmile. This company works to improve supply chains across agriculture and aquaculture through data collection and monitoring, connecting fishers and farmers to sustainable supply chains and marketplaces.

mFish is one of Eachmile’s solutions, an application that provides traceability to the seafood supply chain; In 2014, US Secretary of State John Kerry launched mFish, which will soon have Fishcoin integrated into it.

The US Department of State has since asked Eachmile to manage Fishackathon in 2019, an environmental hackathon which focuses on utilizing blockchain and other technologies to improve sustainability and environmental responsibility in our oceans. At the event, entrants will be tasked with developing data capture and data sharing solutions through sensors and internet of things (IoT) as well as blockchain technology.

In agriculture, blockchain is already demonstrating its ability to upgrade the value and supply chain by reducing processing and transaction times and also increasing the trust and reliability between food producers, retailers, certification bodies and governmental organizations.

The benefits of a blockchain in agriculture are reported to be quite extensive, which is something the aquaculture industry can now catch up on.

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Parliament in Chile Considers Blockchain Adoption for Government Infrastructure

Chile may be moving forward with a plan to integrate blockchain into its governmental infrastructure. Last week two Chilean MPs presented a …

Chile may be moving forward with a plan to integrate blockchain into its governmental infrastructure. Last week two Chilean MPs presented a resolution to the lower house of Chile’s parliament, urging the use of blockchain in Chile. Chilean news portal Fortin Mapocho reported that MPs Miguel Angel Calisto and Giorgio Jackson are pushing hard to get blockchain development moving along in Chile.

Chile Blockchain

The two MPs that brought the resolution to the lower house have the support of eight other MPs, and they hope that Chilean President, Sebastian Pinera, will see the advantages that blockchain could create for Chile. Over the last few years Chile has been dealing with rising costs, and an increasingly unhappy population. Many of the social issues that Chile is facing relate back to bloated government expenses, and the taxes needed to maintain spending, which blockchain could help lower.

Giorgio Jackson referenced a statement from the Chilean Economic Prosecution office, who stated that maintaining notaries in Chile has become too expensive. MP Jackson asserted that using DLT to deal with the piles of paperwork that Chilean notaries deal with would slash costs, and help the government reign in spending.

Chile Joins the Movement Toward Blockchain Integration

Centralized ledgers have been the least bad system for most of human history. Using paper records that were carefully handled by governments and authorized agents is extremely expense, and in many areas of the world, archaic systems that date back centuries are still in use. The real problem is that all that paperwork has to be managed by people, and that makes a very simple system cost an enormous amount.

Blockchain has the ability to remove humans from record-keeping to a degree that would be impossible with any other platform. Today nations have to deal with property records, but they also have numerous social assistance programs to facilitate. Chile’s neighbor Brazil is experimenting with a blockchain-based system to automate their pension system, and Australia’s science agency also sees a big potential for blockchain in public pension systems.

Most countries already have a computerized database that contains detailed records for their citizens, but many of the social programs use different databases, and relatively complex procedures to distribute funds. Added levels of human oversight were necessary with centralized records, but DLT could be on the edge of changing the entire record keeping workflow for governments.

The Risks of Inaction

Governments across the globe aren’t in great shape financially. The Pew Charitable Trusts recently stated that between 2015 and 2016, the pension shortfall in U.S. states grew by $295 billion USD In total, and that state pension plans have $2.6 trillion USD in cash to pay out a liability of $4 trillion USD. Paying for costly record keeping is not going to help governments cover their liabilities, and will only add to budget gaps.

Anastasia Andrianova, who worked for Lehman Brothers before founding Akropolis, told Forbes that, “When an economic crisis occurs, the first thing that a state will do is tap into pension funds or reserves. Both public and private funds are raided. I’ve seen this happen firsthand, which was further reinforced by the global financial crisis of 2007. The fast points of attack are typically pension services. Pension payouts are cut first, affecting the most vulnerable people.”

Bigger populations and longer lives will continue to stress the existing social benefits infrastructure globally. Blockchain could be a major cost-cutting tool for governments that doesn’t result in a lower level of service for the population as a whole. As tax revenues continue to decline on an inflation adjusted basis, governments will need every advantage they can find to maintain social order.

A failure to embrace practical solutions not only looks terrible, it also may speed the decline of existing governmental structures. DLT’s capabilities are much wider than making pension payments, and if governments don’t look for ways to be more efficient, they could be replaced as well.

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Bitwala Partners With Visa-Backed Solaris on Blockchain Bank Account

Blockchain startup Bitwala is aiming to launch Germany’s first “blockchain bank account” – and it’s struck a strategic partnership with Berlin-based …

Blockchain startup Bitwala is aiming to launch Germany’s first “blockchain bank account” – and it’s struck a strategic partnership with Berlin-based fintech company solarisBank in order to pull it off.

Built as part of solarisBank’s “Blockchain Factory” initiative, the partnership will enable Bitwala to offer banking services by way of solarisBank’s German banking license, spokesperson Roman Kessler told CoinDesk.

The goal is to launch the service in mid-November, and Bitwala hopes to cater to those who already hold cryptocurrencies. Bitwala raised €4 million in new funding last month to support its efforts.

Thus far, according to the company, 35,000 users have pre-registered for the upcoming service.

Speaking to CoinDesk, Kessler stressed that “we are a blockchain banking service” and not a bank. That said, Bitwala hopes to get there one day, and is planning to seek a German banking license of its own next year.

Bitwala’s partner has some notable backers, including Spain-based BBVA and card provider Visa. SolarisBank closed a €56.6 million Series B funding round earlier this year, according to TechCrunch, having been founded in 2016.

Kessler explained two aspects of solarisBank drew Bitwala to it: the “fantastic technical platform that allows” any company the ability to easily “go in and plug your use cases” into the solarisBank API, and the regulatory access vis-a-vis its banking license.

Indeed, solarisBank positioned itself as a possible partner for the crypto-industry through its Blockchain Factory effort.

And the solarisBank partnership helps Bitwala avoid some of the regulatory pitfalls it’s encountered in the past. In January, Bitwala was one of several cryptocurrency companies affected when Visa Europe closed the account of its debit card issuer.

“We are very proud to partner with solarisBank as we launch our new product. Their technical services and regulatory umbrella enable Bitwala to be fully compliant with German banking requirements while offering a reliable user experience,” Jörg von Minckwitz, president of Bitwala, said in a statement.

Bitcoins and euros image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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