Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence – what a double act they will be!
Here’s a prediction for 2017: half the people who talk about the Next Big Technology Trend – Blockchain – won’t be able to describe its ‘mysterious ways’ and ‘wonders to perform’. So they’ll do what we all do and use long phrases like ‘distributed cryptographic ledger software’ and discourage questions.
I don’t blame them either, because you expose yourself to massive risk when you try explain things simply. I’ve been mocked many-a-time for asking things to be explained in layman’s terms, only to discover later than none of my fellow hacks understood either.
So, laugh if you must, but here’s my simple take on Blockchain. You know how they say that Gods see everything and that the Devil is in the detail? Blockchain is like both of them combined, a sort of omnipotent digital deity that sees every single transaction in an entire digital network. Accordingly, it can recall them all, in perfect detail and in perfect order. So the Blockchain is a sort of Wholly (accurate) Book of Record.
Blockchain was designed to sanitise digital banking and financial services – like Bitcoin – so that, should there ever be a trading dispute, all parties concerned will be subject to the ultimate judgement.
Artificial intelligence is even more complicated. I hadn’t realised how difficult it was for everyone to understand until I attended the Wayra Demo Day 2016 in December. All companies are starting to use AI because it can save them a fortune. At the event, AI start up Codec explained how marketing companies spend £144 billion every year without really knowing much about their audiences. This is because humans are not rational and tend to say one thing in public while voting (with their feet, their cash and their ballot paper) in an entirely different way. Only machines have the energy to wade through the global jungle of people’s browsing habits and purchasing records, so Codec’s AI aims to look at the raw data and make cleverer recommendations.
If that sounds a lot different from your idea of artificial intelligence, you’re still right. We both are, because there’s a type of AI to suit everyone. In fact, you’d need a computer with the capacity for self learning just to keep up with all the AI vendors, which numbered over 1000 at the last count. Rationalising them for you is the business model of CognitionX, another new start up that featured at Wayra Demo Day 2016.
If you need to buy an artificial intelligence system, in order to match you with the best AI system for you, suffice it to say things are getting complicated. This is a technology area that’s diversifying fast and expanding in all directions.
It’s inevitable that the unstoppable force of AI will meet the immovable object that is Blockchain. Expect that Big Bang to happen in 2107.
What’s going to happen when Blockchain and AI start to share code? I imagine they will make a good double act. Blockchain is the straight man – a safe, auditable, solid infrastructure on which the more creatively brilliant talents of artificial intelligence can work wonders. The two systems – one based on solidity, safety and dependability and the other geared for exploration of new ground, constantly trying new routines and learning from experiences – are a perfect complement to each other. Blockchain gives AI grounding, while AI gives blockchain the capacity to improve and develop.
They could bring some stability to the online world safer for a start. For example, an amalgamation of the two could create a smarter Internet with more functions crossed with a sort of instant universal virtual private network (VPN).
Blockchain software could extend beyond the financial world and be applied to everything from confirming identities through checking reputations to cross referencing gene sequences. Instead of being omnipotent in one sector, finance, it will be omnipresent, used everywhere from manufacturing to your mobile, guiding and protecting you as you move from the home to the hospital. It’s even in the self-driving ambulance that will transfer you from one to the other. I just hope it never learns the capacity for evil!