Most technological revolutions come with an unforeseen darker side.
When Austrian-born physicists Lise Meitner and Otto Frisch first split the atom in the late 1930s, they probably didn’t anticipate their discovery would lead a few years later to the atomic bomb. The artificial intelligence (AI) revolution is arguably no different.
AI algorithms have been around for decades. The first artificial neural network, the perceptron, was invented in 1958. But the recent pace of development has been breathtaking, and with voice recognition devices like Alexa and chatbots like ChatGPT, AI appears to have gained a new public awareness.
On the positive side, AI could dramatically raise the planet’s general education level and help to find cures for devastating diseases like Alzheimer’s. But it could also displace jobs and bolster authoritarian states that can use it to surveil their populations. Moreover, if machines ever achieve “general” intelligence, they might even be trained to overturn elections and prosecute wars, AI pioneer Geoffrey Hinton recently warned.
“Enormous potential and enormous danger” is how United States President Joe Biden recently described AI. This followed an open letter in March from more than 1,000 tech leaders, including Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak, calling for a moratorium on AI developments like ChatGPT. The technology, they said, presents “profound risks to society and humanity.”
Already, some countries are lining up against OpenAI, the developer of ChatGPT. Italy temporarily banned ChatGPT in March, and Canada’s privacy commissioner is investigating OpenAI for allegedly collecting and utilizing personal information without consent. The EU is negotiating new rules for AI, while China is demanding that AI developers henceforth abide by strict censorship rules. Some amount of regulation seems inevitable.
An antidote to what ails AI?
With this as a backdrop, a question looms: Can blockchain technology remedy the problems that afflict artificial intelligence — or at least some of them? Decentralized ledger technology, after all, is arguably everything that…
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