Artificial intelligence (AI) allows computer scientists and data analysts to perform tasks that historically rely on human intelligence. A blockchain is a decentralized database or distributed ledger that facilitates data provenance and integrity at scale. Accordingly, AI and blockchain go hand-in-hand. The concept of AI lends itself to a variety of novel applications. Some of the largest global supply chains use these technologies to increase efficiency and safety. Also, AI and blockchain are revolutionizing the game development space. The scope for AI and blockchain is unprecedented. The pairing of these technologies presents multiple opportunities for automation and optimization in almost every area of business and industry. Furthermore, the coming together of AI and blockchain presents new opportunities for product development, design, and data analysis.
In this article, we’re going to dive deep into AI and blockchain. We’ll explore the key concepts of each of these cutting-edge technologies. Plus, we’ll discuss how AI and blockchain interoperate and the benefits this pairing creates for businesses and companies sector-wide.
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What is a Blockchain?
A blockchain is a type of distributed ledger that serves as the backbone of cryptocurrency networks. Public blockchains like Bitcoin provide a transparent ledger of every transaction ever to take place. Anyone can view these transactions using a block explorer, making public blockchains highly transparent. Unlike centralized databases, blockchains use a distributed network of nodes that eliminates any single-point-of-failure and makes them resistant to attacks.
Because public blockchains are decentralized, they facilitate value transfer outside of the legacy financial system. Anyone with an internet connection can send crypto assets to anywhere in the world at a fraction of the cost of traditional payments providers. As such, blockchains lower the barrier to entry for financial instruments and provide an equitable and borderless alternative to traditional financial services.
Blockchains like Bitcoin derive their security from the computing power of the network. The Bitcoin network is the largest computer network in the world and uses the same amount of electricity per year as Sweden. Although this raises questions about sustainability, it allows nodes within blockchain networks to constantly verify transactions to ensure their legitimacy.
Special nodes called mining nodes receive newly-created Bitcoin (BTC) for verifying transactions and adding them to their “block” of transactions and appending it to the blockchain. Each block is intertwined with every other block in the chain, making it increasingly difficult to attack. Also, verifying Bitcoin transactions requires a lot of electricity. Accordingly, miners have an incentive to act honestly, as they could lose their BTC rewards if they try to defraud the network. Moreover, any attempt to defraud the network could be instantly recognized by the network of nodes, as each node holds an identical copy of the same ledger of transactions.
What are the Benefits of Blockchain?
As mentioned previously, blockchains operate without any intermediaries, central authority, or single-point-of-failure. As such, most blockchain networks are resistant to censorship. Also, blockchains allow multiple parties from around the world to share sensitive information securely, transparently, and often anonymously. Furthermore, blockchains have multiple use cases outside of cryptocurrencies. For example, blockchains are becoming increasingly prominent in supply chain management, healthcare, game development, music, art, and real estate.
Additionally, blockchains use a data structure that makes them ideal for record keeping. A decentralized network of validators can help to ensure accurate data and prevent rogue actors or powerful individuals from manipulating database entries. Also, hybrid blockchains allow companies to combine elements of public and private blockchains to create bespoke enterprise-ready solutions.
What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a form of computer science that enables practitioners to build “smart machines” that can perform tasks typically undertaken by humans. These powerful computers often mimic human intelligence for problem-solving and decision-making applications. Also, AI systems can perform iterative self-improvements and optimizations.
Examples of AI include Siri, Alexa, self-driving cars, recommended videos, chatbots, computer games, and customer service bots. However, the potential for AI expands well beyond these familiar tools. AI lends itself to advanced data analysis applications. The fields of machine learning and deep learning fall into the category of AI. While machine learning assists in building self-improving computing systems, deep learning concentrates on creating artificial neural networks. However, both of these subsets of AI overlap and intertwine with other subsets.
Several prominent businesses are investing in data science and AI practitioners to create systems that improve according to the data they consume. As such, the field of AI is expanding rapidly and incorporating vast, complex data sets. Furthermore, AI can help businesses to identify markets, buying habits, and trends more efficiently. Plus, the technology enables practitioners to automate repetitive tasks.
The concept of AI was born in the wake of World War II by the mathematician Alan Turing. Turing published a paper in 1950 titled “Computing Machinery and Intelligence”. The paper asks the question, “can machines think?” and lays out what would become the foundation for AI as an extension of computer science. AI is an interdisciplinary science that combines multiple skill sets. However, machine learning is quickly becoming an essential tool sector-wide.
Different Types of AI
Weak AI, or “Narrow AI” generally relies on training for specific tasks. This type of AI is what powers most of the AI-based technologies we use on a regular basis, like autonomous vehicles and smart assistants. On the other hand, Strong AI combines Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) and Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI) to create computing systems for solving complex problems. Although Strong AI is largely theoretical, it is one of the most exciting areas of research in the field.
Deep learning and machine learning are subfields of AI. However, deep learning is, in fact, a subfield of machine learning. Generally speaking, deep learning is a scaled version of machine learning and eliminates the need for human behavior when accessing large datasets. On the other hand, classical machine learning requires more human interaction when accessing data to learn.
AI and Blockchain
Because AI relies so heavily on data, data needs to be stored in a tamper-proof and transparent fashion. Public blockchain networks create immutable digital records that enable users to verify data provenance while removing the need for trust between parties. Also, blockchains help AI technicians to increase data security by creating an easy-to-access audit trail that anyone can view from anywhere in the world.
Blockchain is the go-to mechanism for maintaining data integrity in AI and machine learning. AI systems analyze colossal amounts of data, making security and reliability paramount to the success of AI. Blockchains provide AI practitioners with a decentralized network of validators that can accurately identify bogus or false information. Furthermore, blockchains significantly reduce the likelihood of a data security breach or hack. As such, blockchains enable AI practitioners to build vast trust networks that increase transparency and collaboration.
Another benefit to arise from the pairing of AI and blockchain is scalability. Blockchains allow multiple practitioners to participate in a robust and transparent data economy by sharing data and models securely. As such, AI practitioners can collaborate confidently without fear of disclosing sensitive data. Furthermore, blockchain technology helps AI practitioners to automate a range of business practices. This helps businesses to save time and money while optimizing outdated practices.
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How are AI and Blockchain Used Today?
The coming together of two powerful technologies like AI and blockchain present many opportunities industry-wide. One of the best examples of AI and blockchain today is in the healthcare industry. Together, blockchain and AI assist healthcare practitioners in managing health records and identifying actionable insights using vast amounts of data. Also, AI and blockchain help to protect patient data privacy and optimize supply chains.
Furthermore, the use of blockchain and AI in supply chain management help companies share sensitive data in a trustless manner. Also, blockchain creates a decentralized framework for sharing real-time traffic updates and weather reporting. Together with AI, blockchains help to digitize several paper-based practices using trustless, immutable ledgers. Plus, AI and blockchain allow businesses to add intelligence and automation for multiple applications.
Moreover, AI and blockchain allow businesses to automate the development of new products and implement changes based on consumer data. Using accelerated analytics and a robust data management framework, companies can expedite innovation by removing many of the frictions that slow it down.
The Future of Blockchain and AI
In the future, we can expect to see blockchain and AI play increasingly prominent roles in healthcare. Many experts believe blockchain and AI could help to improve the accuracy of clinical trials and screenings. Also, this technology could help to build a decentralized framework for healthcare supply chains, data management, and record-keeping. When it comes to automation, blockchain and AI could disrupt several industries. Many of the jobs that currently require human intelligence may soon become a thing of the past. As such, blockchain and AI could change the face of the employment market at large.
Another area where AI and blockchain thrive is finance. Blockchain is renowned for decentralized finance (DeFi) applications. However, AI could help bridge the gap between DeFi and the legacy finance ecosystem by automating loan applications and other types of transactions. Plus, AI and blockchain could disrupt the payments sector by optimizing global payment channels to automatically select the best fee rates and the fastest transaction speeds.
Blockchain and Web3 game development is already disrupting a multi-billion dollar global industry. The introduction of AI allows Web3 game developers to generate 3-D environments in real-time to enhance gameplay. Many exciting developments are also taking place in architecture and engineering, cybersecurity, manufacturing, media, hospitality, government, and communications. Additionally, AI and blockchain will play a critical role in the development and scaling of smart cities. Blockchain and AI are expected to assist in agriculture by helping farmers to predict weather conditions and take out complex crop insurance.
AI and Blockchain: A Powerful Pair? – Summary
Artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain are becoming an increasingly powerful and high-utility combination sector-wide. From creating early warning systems for cancer to recognizing marketing opportunities and creating real-time animations, the coming together of these two novel technologies is helping to create exciting tools to enhance the capabilities of human beings and optimize business processes unlike anything seen before.
Furthermore, the rapid development taking place in deep learning and the internet of things (IoT) is further expanding the use cases for blockchain technology. Various smart devices that upload data to the blockchain could soon become commonplace in the home and workplace as we enter the next phase of the digital revolution. When this happens, many experts expect AI and blockchain to become increasingly common in everyday life.
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