'Tread Very Carefully': Vitalik Discusses Future Of AI And Blockchain

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Last updated Feb 02, 2024 | 09:26 AM UTC

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has given a rather comprehensive take on the intersection of crypto and artificial intelligence (AI) in a blog post this week. In it, the famed developer explores its potential, pitfalls, and is now more optimistic on its future.

AI and blockchain converge

Similarly to blockchain, AI just so happens to be one of those technologies that merges and upgrades others, providing a new powerful suite of tools for pretty much every use-case you can think of.

University of Ethereum (UETH)

Naturally, the merging of blockchain and AI technologies was inevitable. With new Web3 companies working to build products and services on this red-hot technological frontier demonstrating their combined potential. 

Though previously on the fence with AI, Buterin acknowledges advancements that have given him a renewed optimism, such as machine learning (ML), Language Model Machines (LLMs) as well as those of blockchain technologies such as zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs) and Multi-Party Computation (MPC).

The Game

In his blog post, Buterin breaks down the overlaps between AI and blockchain into four categories, using video game analogies to illustrate his points.

According to Buterin, the most promising category is “AI as a player in a game”, which is where “the ultimate source of incentives comes from a protocol with human inputs”. Citing prediction markets as an example, Buterin explains that blockchain tech can regulate and enforce rules on AI models that are used to predict outcomes, rewarding them and penalizing them accordingly. 

Secondly, Buterin explains “AI as an interface to the game” which he tags as “high potential, but with risks”. This is where users leverage AI to navigate the crypto world safely. An AI in this instance could shield users from a myriad of scams, exploits, and other harmful crypto activities.

Next up is “AI as the rules of the game” which Buterin notes as “tread very carefully”. This would be where blockchain tech such as decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and other similar mechanisms would be governed by subjective AI decision-making.

Finally, he describes “AI as the objective of the game” as a “longer-term but intriguing” notion. He sets out the idea of “designing blockchains, DAOs, and similar mechanisms with the goal of construction and maintaining an AI that could be used for other purposes,”. Here he posits that blockchain and cryptocurrencies could be used to create and incentivize AI training to prevent data leaks or malicious misuse.

He acknowledges that AI and blockchain use cases are growing and becoming more diverse, though there are some that have more logical practicality than others, and that challenges remain in many areas, notably in creating AIs that are safe, can scale, don’t pose centralization risks, and so on.

Looking to the future, Buterin seems optimistic, writing: “I look forward to seeing more attempts at constructive use cases of AI in all of these areas, so we can see which of them are truly viable at scale.”

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Eddie is a seasoned crypto writer and Bitcoin maximalist.