Organizations are increasingly looking to adopt blockchain technologies for alternative data storage. And with heaps of data distributed across blockchain ledgers, the need for data analytics with AI is growing. The combination of AI and blockchain is fueling the onset of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution“ by reinventing economics and information exchange.
From healthcare to government, the potent combination of both AI and blockchain is slowly but surely transforming industries.
1. Precision Medicine
Google DeepMind is developing an “auditing system for healthcare data”. Blockchain will enable the system to remain secure and shareable, while AI will allow medical staff to obtain analytics on medical predictions drawn from patient profiles. The project’s aim is to faciliate information exchange for patient benefit, but also to derive game-changing insights for medical staff to use. With an error rate of <2%, AI can generate valuable and reliable insights in data oceans made available by healthcare institutions.
DeepMind’s blockchain technology has been tested on NHS data, and its AI applications are being deployed to spot warning signs of degenerative eye conditions for Moorfields Eye Hospital.
2. Smart Energy, Smart Buildings
Green-friendly AI and blockchain help reduce energy waste and optimize energy trade. For example, an AI system governing a building can oversee energy use by counting in factors like the presence and number of residents, seasons, and even traffic information.
To supply the energy, distributed blockchain technology is implemented for transparent and cost-effective transactions between producers and consumers, while machine learning algorithms can even hone in on transactions to estimate pricing. Blockchain combined with AI significantly expedites real estate related transaction processes which can otherwise go through too many channels before a contract is approved.
3. No Blood Diamonds
IBM Watson is experimenting with the combined strengths of AI and blockchain. Their research team is developing Everledger with blockchain technology to tackle fraud in the diamond industry, merged with cognitive analytics that heavily “cross-check” regulations, records, supply-chain, and IoT data in the blockchain environment. Combined with a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization), an AI-infused blockchain can even become fully self-governing, capable of adapting on the fly to changes in the environment.
4. Public Science
The “file-drawer problem“ in academia is when researchers don’t publish “non-result” experiments. Duplicate experiments and a lack of knowledge follow, trampling scientific discourse. To resolve this, experimental data can be stored in a publicly accessible blockchain. It also seems to us that adding data analytics could help identifying elements like how many times the same experiment has happened or what the probable outcome of a certain experiment is.
Hossein Kakavand, CEO of Luther Systems, forecasts that AI will also play a bigger role in public science once “smart contracts” transacted by blockchain technology require smarter “nodes” that function in a semi-autonomous way. Smart contracts simulate contractual agreements and can have wide-ranging applications, also in public science, when academics embrace the blockchain for knowledge transfer.
5. Cyber Security 2.0
When AI and blockchain are put together, they provide a double shield against cyberattacks. Machine learning algorithms can be trained to automate real-time threat detection and to continuously learn about the behavior of attackers, thereby thickening the malware detection armor. Meanwhile, decentralized blockchains dismantle the inherent vulnerability of centralized databases, requiring cyber attackers to challenge not one but several entrance gates.
Another area where AI and blockchain shine together is large data breaches. It is extremely difficult to identify which data may have been poisoned or modified by the attacker. Using blockchain with AI against data vaults allows someone to determine when the breach occurred.
6. Digital Rights
Digitalization has introduced complicated digital rights to the IP management spectrum, but when clever AI learns the rules of the game it can identify actors who break international copyright law. As for IP contract management, blockchain technology enables immediate payment methods to artists and authors. Artist Imogen Heap recently suggested the blockchain could help musicians simplify creative collaboration and make money again.
Companies like Verizon and Ujo Music count on blockchain to audit licenses and distribute products, with Ujo Music making use of the Ethereum blockchain platform for song distribution.
7. Computational Finance
Smart contracts could also take center stage where transparent information is crucial for trust in financial services. Financial transactions may no longer rely on a human “clearing agent” as they’d become automatized, performing better and faster.
But since confidence in transactions remains dependent on people, AI can step in to monitor human emotions and predict the most optimal trading environment. Thus, “algotrading” can be powered by algorithms that trade based on investment patterns correlated with emotions.
8. BaaS Software
Microsoft, the mother of computer software, is aiming to provide the best BaaS, or Blockchain-as-a-Service, platform in the cloud. Microsoft is integrating “BaaS modules” in Azure, a cloud-computing platform, that users can create test environments for. Blockchains are cheaper to create and test, and in Azure they come with reusable templates and artifacts.
The BaaS modules are not coded by Microsoft, but are based on the public Ethereum blockchain platform, which is endowed with a “broad developer base” that can feed well into Azure’s developer base. And unlike some blockchain platforms, Ethereum is interoperable with Azure.
Competitors like IBM also offer BaaS products.
9. Self-Driving Vehicles
Although cars are becoming a “data source on wheels” with autonomous driving, chatbots, and smart navigation, not everybody will be able to afford an AI-driven car right away. With car leasing being the second-best option, blockchain technology can promise to simplify the leasing process by reducing the number of people involved, synthesizing all data, and providing an audit trail.
Although global organizations like NATO and the UN won’t vanish, blockchain technology and AI could both contribute to the development of direct democracy. Blockchain and AI together can transfer big hordes of data globally, tracing e-voting procedures and displaying them publicly so that citizens can engage in real-time.
Democracy Earth Foundation, an organization aspiring to “hack democracy“, is jumping on the direct democracy bandwagon. It’s waved “political intermediation” goodbye as it advocates open-source software, peer-to-peer networks, and smart contracts. The organization also hopes to fight fake identities and reclaim individual accountability in the political sphere.
While blockchain and AI combined have enormous disruptive potential across industries, all emerging technologies face substantial challenges. Read about the 6 major challenges facing widespread blockchain adoption and also the limitations of deep learning approaches in AI.