Published On: September 1, 2023Categories: articleTags: ,

Technologies tend to develop separately and morph into something new and better over time. This simple fact is at the basis of almost every technological breakthrough. Yet, techno-fusion is so common we often forget it happened.  Examples are e-commerce (retail and internet), smart cities (IoT, GPS, data analytics, AI), and digital assistants (speech recognition, NLP, cloud computing). Even blockchain itself is an example of technological integration. Often, one integration opens the pathway to another. These integrations always seem surprising while they are happening and obvious in hindsight. The next power couple? AI and blockchain.

Techno-fusion is at the basis of almost every major breakthrough.

At their heart, AI and blockchain are synergistic and symbiotic technologies. The one strengthens and absorbs the weaknesses of the other. Intelligence based on truth, insights paired with trust. This dependability is key for bringing AI to the next level and is especially important for applications in business settings. We discuss two examples.

From copyright infringement to scalable IP rights

Generative AI has sparked controversy around copyright infringements with artists (often rightfully) complaining about the misuse of their creative work. The abuse can occur both at the training and output stages. This (alleged) infringement is mostly seen as a threat to creators and IP rights holders, yet it provides a great opportunity. Let us explain.

Using AI tools (like Deepswap) it is easy to dub your video with the voice of Morgan Freeman or change your face to Batman. It is not easy, however, to do this legally. Imagine, we would want to enable this piece with a read-out-loud functionality in the voice of David Attenborough and compensate the owner of the fantastic voice with an automated pay-per-listen. Currently, the transaction costs are exorbitantly high to make it worth either our or Sir Attenborough’s time. Using a combination of blockchain and generative AI, this becomes scalable. In fact, any company or individual that holds IP rights could offer their IP, on an AI-powered marketplace – open for anyone to synthesize – and use blockchain to track, verify and claim royalties.

Separating the real from the fake and bogus

Generative AI makes it exceedingly difficult to verify humanity online. How to safeguard trust and authenticity in a synthetic world? How can we tell whether an online actor is truly a human and why does it matter?

This challenge becomes apparent in the Worldcoin initiative, launched by Sam Altman (CEO of OpenAI). Worldcoin aims to bring UBI to the world. The seemingly simple act of handing out money becomes a challenge at scale, or as Elizatbeth Rhodes (project director of YCombinator Research) put it: “it’s harder to give away money than you think”.

For each individual grant, Worldcoin has to verify the humanity of a recipient and verify the submission is not duplicative. As such, before getting access to the platform, users have to submit “proof of personhood” as Worldcoin calls it. After discarding traditional solutions such as passports (more than 50% of the global population does not have an ID) and fingerprints (not accurate enough), the company settled on verification through Iris scans using the controversial Orbs. Should the company become successful it would end up with a worldwide map of names paired with biometric data. A wealth of data that is extremely sensitive to hacks and something no one party should own. Or in cybersecurity speak: a “honeypot”.

As digital tools literally and figuratively come closer to our bodies, the stakes increase and so does the need for privacy and – in our opinion – decentralization. Mere privacy-focus or lofty terms and conditions are insufficient. Personal data has to be stored in a decentralized and tamper-proof manner, or better: not stored at all. Worldcoin uses Zero Knowledge Proofs (ZKPs) for this purpose, which is – conceptually- a great solution. This would mean that Worldcoin only receives a binary answer to the question “is this person x?” or “has this person received a grant already?” instead of receiving the actual proof (the Iris scan itself). A good start.

As the stakes increase and our world is flooded by artificial actors and artificial content- truth, trust and authenticity become quintessential. We are looking forward to seeing more pairing of AI with decentralized ledger technology, to merge the best of both worlds!