Large tech companies and partnerships are providing a lot of the backbone AI technology and APIs that other companies and smaller start-ups are using to create end-user apps.
But other companies and projects are developing their own AI engines, and that includes some notable blockchain based decentralized startups that envision great community and user participation in development, rewards and governance of the systems.
One of the more prominent projects in this category is Ben Goertzel’s SingularityNET. Ocean Protocol and Fetch.ai are two other blockchain AI initiatives.
Using a Decentralized Approach to Develop AI Agents and More
Ben Goertzel has been a strong advocate for the potentials of AI to benefit humankind, though he has acknowledged AI is likely to create vast disruptions of human jobs, and may even pose existential risks if not carefully developed.
Goertzel, like many AI thought leaders, believes that AI is destined to achieve a singularity moment at some point—a level of development in which AI can outperform human intelligence in every respect.
For years, Goertzel was involved in creating the AI used in Sophia, the Hanson Robotics creation that has acted as an “ambassador” for human-like AI robots since 2016.
Sophia was actually the first non-human to be given a UN title, and was also awarded official citizenship by Saudi Arabia.
With SingularityNET, Goertzel is creating a decentralized AI platform developing and providing different AI powered services.
One of its more ambitious goals is to build a worldwide network of AI personal agents that could theoretically perform many different tasks.
AI bots might help customers, detect illnesses, or produce innovative content. Some are rightly concerned about dystopian potentials of AI personal agents. For more on that, see “HUMAN ‘SYMBIOSIS’ WITH AI: CHATGPT WANTS TO BE YOUR DIGITAL KEEPER” in this issue.
SingularityNET has attracted at least 30 million in funding.
The website (https://singularitynet.io/ecosystem/) showcases an array of AI projects, all connected to a blockchain ecosystem powered by a blockchain native AGIX token.
Different projects focus around DeFi, Robotics, Biotech and Longevity, Gaming and Media, Arts and Entertainment (Music), and Enterprise-level AI. According to the project:
“SingularityNET acts like an incubator providing guidance, funding and expertise to these ventures with the goal of turning the initiatives into a successful and fully independent entity in the true spirit of decentralization.”
Among the specific projects are:
- HyperCycle: A layer-1 blockchain designed to supply scalable low cost infrastructure for the SingularityNET ecosystem.
- Rejuve.ai: Rejuve.AI is a decentralized longevity network working to extend healthy human life. The project wants to enable people to submit their data for study while protecting it using blockchain technology and paying them for breakthroughs. Researchers and AI modelers may also contribute and get reimbursed like users.
- SingularityDAO: a crypto DeFi project utilizing in-house AI hosted on SingularityNET’s Decentralized Marketplace. The project aims to create “massive utility for the AGIX token” by funneling projects and users into something called “DynaSets.” DynaSets would bring AI-powered portfolio management to DeFi, “using advanced data science-backed strategies developed by a team of quant analysts, to dynamically rebalance and optimize sets of tokens.” The aim is to develop “DeFi tools to bring financial freedom to the masses.”
Data, Made Smarter with AI, While Giving Data Providers and Consumers More Transparency and Control
Ocean Protocol is a decentralized marketplace for selling and purchasing data. The idea is the brainchild of Dawn Song, a professor of computer science at Stanford University, and has amassed over $60 million in financing.
Using the protocol, businesses and individuals can securely share and access data, while retaining control over how that data is used.
Currently over 30 projects and companies are utilizing Ocean Protocol data blockchain services.
One interesting Ocean Protocol innovation involves “Data NFTS.”
According to the project website, Ocean has tools to easily publish data services, which are deployed as ERC721 data NFTs and ERC20 datatokens.
Datatokens can also be transferred (ie. bought and sold), effectively allowing crypto wallets, exchanges, and DAOs to become data wallets, exchanges, and DAOs.
Data NFTs and datatokens “are the interface to connect data assets with blockchain and DeFi tools. Crypto wallets become data wallets, crypto exchanges become data marketplaces, DAOs for data co-ops, and more via DeFi composability. It’s ‘data legos’.”
Collaborative Machine Learning, and Tapping IoT for Automated Processes
A third decentralized AI blockchain initiative is the Fetch.ai DAO. The platform enables the development of automated intelligent agents that communicate with one another and their surroundings.
Humayun Sheikh, a former executive at Google and Amazon, established the project, and it has secured over 15 million dollars in investment.
Among other things, Fetch.ai could change how the so-called Internet of things (IoT) is used.
AI agents might be used, for instance, to trade financial assets, operate smart homes, and improve transportation systems.
CoLearn, meanwhile, is a collaborative, privacy-preserving decentralized AI machine learning initiative powered by Fetch.ai.
According to Fetch.ai:
This blockchain-mediated collective learning system enables multiple stakeholders to build a shared machine learning model without needing to rely on a central authority, and without revealing their dataset to the other stakeholders. This library is currently in development.
The initiative has rules that preserve privacy and allow a structured collaborative machine-learning model development process, including:
- One learner is selected to train the model and propose a new set of model weights.
- The other learners vote on whether the weights are an improvement.
- If the majority vote that the new weights are better than the old ones then the new weights are accepted by all the learners. Otherwise the new weights are discarded.
- The next round begins.
A Different Way of Developing, Overseeing and Sharing in the AI Revolution
The potential synergies of crypto and AI, offers the potential to change the usual dynamic of innovation in what many are calling the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and what others are calling a “Trivergence” of important new technologies.
Specifically, The Trends Journal has been calling attention to the ways that decentralized crypto technology can more widely enfranchise people to have a development, governance and reward stake in AI, as well as other sectors and emerging innovative technologies.
Some of these technologies have such disruptive and potentially negative aspects, that they should not be left to any narrow corporate group or sector to pursue on their own, without very wide societal input and oversight.
The Trends Journal has actually identified a “quadvergence” of four major technology areas that are already disrupting the present, and which are sure to greatly impact the future:
- AI and Robotics
- (Permissionless Crypto Powered) Blockchains
- Internet of Things (IoT)
- Genetic Editing and Manipulation, and Synbio Technologies
In significant respects, decentralized web3 and blockchain crypto technologies may present the best prospect for ensuring responsible and positive tech and other social benefits accompany the changes that lie ahead.
For related reading, see:
- “AUTOMATING OUT OF WORLD CRISIS?” (12 Jul 2022)
- “CAN INNOVATION OUTPACE GREED, WAR AND CORRUPTION?” (27 Sep 2022)
- “CAN CRYPTO TECHNOLOGY DEMOCRATIZE THE AI AND AUTOMATION REVOLUTION?” (21 Feb 2023)
- “USING CRYPTO TECHNOLOGY TO DISTRIBUTE BENEFITS AND OVERSEE DEVELOPMENT OF AI” (9 May 2023)
- “THE TRIVERGENCE: A BUZZWORD FOR EMPOWERMENT OR ENSLAVEMENT?” (29 Jul 2022)
- “CRYPTO WINTER WARMTH” (2 Aug 2022)