SingularityNET CEO: Blockchain can Decentralize and Democratize AI
As people pay more attention to blockchain, its application in different areas becomes a hotspot. Artificial intelligence is one of the areas in which blockchain can be applied. Of all the blockchain AI projects, SingularityNET stands out as the world’s leading decentralized marketplace for AI with the technology of blockchain.
Ben Goertzel, CEO of SingularityNET, told Jinse Finance & Cointime the reason of the combination of AI and blockchain at the 2019 Chain Plus Asia Pacific Blockchain Summit on April 11. The aim of SingularityNET is to build a community of AIs which is controlled in a decentralized way rather than controlled by government or large corporations. Blockchain is the infrastructure and key part of the technological solution that helps to achieve that.
Ben said that most AIs are currently oriented toward maximizing shareholders’ value or a country’s own benefit. By decentralizing AI, we can cause a much broader variety of applications to be served by AI. On the other hand, the blockchain technology can bring more opportunities for AI developers. They can be full participants in the international AI community and interact with other people through theri AIs.
The smart contracts of SingularityNET platform is using the Ethereum blockchain. What is the impact of Ethereum blockchain on SingularityNET? Ben told Cointime that the network works quite well with Ethereum right now but the Ethereum platform will not be good enough for all future needs. SingularityNET is designed to be relatively blockchain agnostic. If it wants to replace Ethereum with other underlying blockchains, this could be done without major rearrangement of the codebase.
As for other public blockchains, Ben likes Cardano project and considers Zero chain to be interesting. There are many projects innovating on the blockchain. As Singularity network improves, it should have many different choices. He still holds positive attitude toward Ethereum because it has a big developer community and is also improving. In addition, Ben pointed out that there are many harder problems in terms of storing massive datasets in a decentralized way than making a faster blockchain. A lot of issues need to be solved to fully realize the vision of a decentralized AI global brain.
The following are Q&As:
Cointime: Could you introduce yourself?
Ben: I'm Ben Goertzel. I'm a Mathematics Ph.D. I've been doing AI for thirty years, and now I'm the CEO of SingularityNET, which is a decentralized marketplace in platform for AI.
Cointime: What inspired you to use blockchain technology in combination with AI?
Ben: What we're looking to get from blockchain is simply decentralized control. We want to have a network of AIs which is controlled by the participants, similar to how Linux community is controlled by everyone who contributes to Linux, or how the internet is controlled by everyone who interacts on the internet. If you want a community of AIs which is controlled in a decentralized way rather than by one guy or a few entities, blockchain is the infrastructure that helps you achieve that.
Cointime: Nowadays everyone is talking that blockchain can't do anything itself. It has to be a blockchain plus something. Do you think AI is the perfect area for blockchain to add to itself?
Ben: Blockchain is a tool, just like database, the internet, or a computer processor. A database itself doesn't do anything. You build applications on top of this. I think AI is a great application of blockchain. It's certainly not the only one. There're many other great ones you can apply blockchain to, like the storage and utilization of medical data, the coordination of an internet of things and cooperation among companies in a certain vertical markets. But AI is one that excites me most, because I came to this from AI side in the first place. I didn't get here by asking what I can use blockchain for. I got here by asking how I can make a decentralized AI network that is controlled by all the participants. And the answer is that blockchain technology is a key part of the technological solution.
Cointime: Many media report there are a lot of problems with the Ethereum platform. Does this have any impact on the AGI smart contract using Ethereum?
Ben: Our network works quite well using Ethereum right now. But I think as our network scales up and we put more and more AI in there, it has to act faster and faster. The current version of the Ethereum platform will not be good enough for all our future needs. On the other hand, Ethereum is also improving, so we will just keep evaluating. As our platform evolves, we'll see at each stage if Ethereum meets our needs or not. If not, there are a lot of other blockchain projects out there now. We've designed our platform to be relatively blockchain agnostic. So if we want to replace Ethereum with some other underlying blockchain, we could do that without major rearrangement of our codebase. Right now we have a lot of other engineering priorities. Ethereum works fine for our current purposes.
Cointime: Have you already studied other public chains?
Ben: There's nothing that is mature and stable, and meets all of our future needs. Nothing is fast enough. I think I love the Cardano project. It's very well founded in advanced computer science, but it's not yet as mature as a good need for us to run Singularity on it. Zero chain is a very interesting project. So there's a whole bunch of interesting projects which are going in the right direction. On the other hand, Ethereum is also improving and that's a very bright team. I'm glad there are so many projects innovating on the blockchain. As our AI network improves, we should have many different blockchains to choose from if Ethereum doesn't improve fast enough for us. But I'm not counting it out because Ethereum has a lot of developers working on making it better and better.
Cointime: I know Vitalik works very hard to speed up the Ethereum network. So, do you have hope for Ethereum?
Ben: Ethereum will be sped up. That's no question. The question is whether some other blockchain will get fast and reliable before Ethereum does because there's a market competition. Ethereum has some advantages because there's a big developer community and a stable codebase. It has a disadvantage because they have to be backward compatible. For a new project, you don't have to worry about compatibility with the old version. Singularity could even be on multiple blockchains if we want to. We could have some networks of Singularity on different blockchains. So there're a lot of possibilities, but which blockchain to use is not our hardest engineering problem. There're a lot of harder problems in terms of storing massive datasets in a decentralized way and giving a decentralized AI network access efficiently to very large datasets that are stored decentralized. This may be a harder problem than making a faster blockchain. So there're actually a lot of issues we have to solve to fully realize our vision of a decentralized AI global brain.
Cointime: What is the impact of recent increasing Bitcoin price on AGI?
Ben: We're not really focused on our token price at this point. Of course, when crypto prices go up, some members of our community get excited and enthusiastic, and that feels good. But we're really interested in utilization of the token for provision and purchase of AI services.
Cointime: The price of Bitcoin is 20% up above 5000 USDT by April 2. Does it mean the end of the bear market or just a rebound?
Ben: I've no idea. I've never sold any of my Bitcoin or Ethereum personally. I don't hold a huge amount, but personally my own bet has been that these things are eventually going to go up. I'm not a market predictor, but personally, I'm bullish on blockchain. I also think that cryptocurrencies are going to grow, but still these are heavily manipulated markets. Once Bitcoin, Ethereum and the other cryptos are widely used for other purposes, then it can be harder for a small number of parties to manipulate the price and we'll be able to understand what's going on a little better.
Cointime: What is the vision of the future about AI plus blockchain?
Ben: The purpose of bringing AI and blockchain together is to enable decentralized control of AI, to stop the dynamic in which AI is controlled by a few large governments and a dozen large corporations. They have a very limited set of of goals and interests. Right now, most AI is oriented toward spying, killing, selling and financial trading. Why isn't there more AI focusing on education, medicine, agriculture, automating science and a lot of other things? That's because the governments and companies funding the AI research don't care that much about those things. They're trying to maximize shareholders' value or maximize their own country's benefit relative to other countries. If you have a decentralized AI network, a broader variety of purposes will be achieved by the AIs because there will be more different people able to direct what the network does.
Cointime: I think that maybe the blockchain technology can bring opportunities for AI.
Ben: Yeah, it can bring opportunities for AI developers, too. For example, we have an AI office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Ethiopia does not have a lot of opportunities for young AI developers that work for Google, Facebook or Alibaba. But if they write an AI and put it on the Singularity network, they can make money from that AI. Their AIs can interact with other people's AIs and they can be full participants in the international AI community.
Executive editor： Maxwell