Blockchain + Artificial Intelligence: a revolutionary combination
Source: MTL DATA
Last Tuesday night, we went to the Blockchain + AI event at Notman House, presented and organized by MTL DATA. If you’re not familiar with Blockchain technology, we recommend the book Blockchain Revolution by Toronto-based author Don Tapscott, which will give you an overview of some of the potential applications of the technology. Essentially, Blockchain can manage information and data in a secure and transparent manner, without relying on a central control system. The Blockchain contains the full history of all transactions completed by its users since its creation. This data is secured and distributed. It’s shared between the different users, without any middlemen, allowing each user to independently verify the validity of the data. A public Blockchain can therefore be compared to a giant accounting book that’s anonymous and uncorruptable.
Blockchain technology emerged in 2008 along with the virtual currency Bitcoin, allowing users to trade Bitcoins in a secure manner without having to go through a central bank to validate the transaction. Today, many different organisations (business, governments, etc) are exploring the possibilities of the Blockchain technology that go far beyond virtual money. If Blockchain fulfills its promises, the technology could transform the internet – and our lives – as we know them today.
Source: MTL DATA
The talk, organized by MTL DATA, gathered various experts from the Montreal community, including Vincent Boucher, Founding Chairman of Montréal.AI, Philippe Chevry, Director of the Blockchain Association of Canada and Will Salmon, a Blockchain evangelist and founder of infiniting.me, a Blockchain creative studio.
Kicking things off was Will Salmon, who opened his presentation by noting that Blockchain was a little like “the internet in the 90s” at the moment, in that we know the general direction in which we need to go, but the technology itself still needs to mature before its ready to fulfill all its promises. Blockchain technology is well-positioned in Canada, but Toronto is ahead of Montreal, prompting Mr. Salmon to invite everyone in the audience to start getting involved in this field and help Montreal become a worldwide leader for Blockchain. A very simple way to get started? Try opening a Bitcoin wallet, which will allow you to see the Blockchain in action.
According to Mr. Salmon, Blockchain technology can be difficult to understand because it requires completely new models. For example, the Blockchain can allow individuals to create decentralized autonomous organisations, also known as DAO, which encourage idea and knowledge sharing and can let the community decide itself which projects should be financed or move forward. The real promise of the Blockchain is the end of the middlemen. A good question to ask right now: what will be the Blockchain’s “Killer App”? A Facebook using Blockchain technology, a Gmail using Blockchain technology, or something entirely new?
Source: MTL DATA
Mr. Salmon’s presentation was followed by a presentation by Montreal.AI’s Vincent Boucher, an expert in artificial intelligence. According to Mr. Boucher, the Blockchain could host AI agents able to study the real word, learn over time and react to change. A virtual wallet, for example, could become “smart” with the help of an AI agent able to take action and give consumers advice, allowing to take better decisions by factoring in real-world data. We can even imagine a decentralized humanitarian organisation that uses AI agents to imagine new solutions to concrete problems and can finance projects autonomously according to real-world data.
According to Mr. Boucher, AI agents are extremely creative. Mr. Boucher gave the example of an AI agent that can create artworks. The agent that creates these pieces works in collaboration which another AI agent that studies artworks created by humans and evaluates the artworks created by the first agent to determine whether or not they could be considered “art.” Over time, the first agent becomes better and better at creating “art.” In the end, the AI agent creates artworks that are interesting and unique, but don’t look exactly the same as those created by humans. By existing on the Blockchain, this AI agent could not only sell its masterpieces, but also help us discover new business models by combining emerging technologies such as the Blockchain, 3D printing, Big Data and others. One challenge in the world of AI at the moment is the lack of experts in this field. According Mr. Boucher, only a few people are really proficient in deep learning. As a solution to this problem, Mr. Boucher is currently trying to assemble an AI academy to train the experts of tomorrow and democratize artificial intelligence.
Source: MTL DATA
Up next was Philippe Chevry, director of the Blockchain Association of Canada, who talked about “artificial life” and the way we could control AI agents who live on the Blockchain. Using the Blockchain, a system could be set up so that users can vote to encourage or discourage certain AI behaviors, allowing users to retain a certain level of control.
In the end, Blockchain technology and artificial intelligence are extremely malleable building blocks. The decisions that are taken now could have a tremendous impact for human society for the next 10, 20, 50 or even 100 years. It’s up to us to establish a solid foundation and explore the full potential of these revolutionary technologies. The future is now!
A big thank you to MTL DATA and Notman House for organizing this wonderful event!