Blockchain Adds Trust to AI/IoT

Your doctor is a tech-savvy individual, just like you. Your doctor is a great example of this. Her new AI assistant is an expert in medical periodicals and has already invested millions. Your doctor would be unable to keep up with the latest medical advances due to her hectic schedule.

I had back pain during my last checkup. With the advice of the AI Doc, my doctor prescribed Big Pharma's back-pain relief capsules. My blood pressure has been trending higher in the last year. The AI Doc advised my doctor to prescribe Big Pharma's hypertension medications.

Okay. This is when I wonder who was responsible for the training data that enabled the neural network to train AI Doc. Could it have been Big Pharma They could have been the sole providers of the data. I doubt the objectivity and independence of AI Doc. You cannot (or should you) trust any data provided by this AI bot or any other AI bot without knowing its provenance and authenticity.

Ok, you might think this example is a little too broad. Although it is true, I want to encourage us to think about how much trust we have in today's data. It is especially important to think about this through the AI, IoT, and Cloud lenses. How can we trust data, AI-based recommendations, and IoT sensor readings?

In this article, I touch on how the blockchain stands to accelerate the adoption of emerging technologies including AI, Cloud, and IoT by bringing in the missing element of trust, which is required for businesses to fully embrace these technologies at scale. These technologies can be integrated into modern blockchain applications and platforms, which will benefit blockchain business networks. It's a win-win situation.

Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain

Blockchain and AI are on just about every chief information officer's watchlist of game-changing technologies that stand to reshape industries. Each technology has its benefits and challenges. These technologies are also incredibly popular, so some may view the idea of combining them as making a new kind of IT magic. There is also a pragmatic and sensible way to look at this mashup.

AI today is a central process. An end-user must have extreme faith in the central authority to produce a trusted business outcome. Blockchain can provide the trust and confidence that end-users need to adopt and rely upon AI-based business processes by decentralizing three of the most important elements of AI, namely data, models, and analytics. Let's look at how blockchain can enrich AI by adding trust to data, models, and analytics.

Your data is your data

Many of the most prominent AI technology services in the world are centralized, including Amazon, Apple, and Facebook, Google as well as Chinese companies Baidu, Tencent, Tencent, Baidu, and Alibaba. All have had to overcome challenges in building trust with their cautious, but eager users. How can a company assure its users that its AI is within its limits?

Imagine these AI services producing a "forensic" report, which could be verified by a third party to show you beyond any reasonable doubt how and when businesses use your data after it has been ingested. You could also imagine that your data could only be used if you give permission.

Blockchain ledgers can be used to manage digital rights. Your data can be "licensed" under your terms, conditions, and duration to an AI provider. The ledger could be used as an access management system, storing proofs and permissions that allow a business to access and use a user's data.

Trusted AI models

Take the blockchain technology example to provide trusted data and provenance for machine learning training models. We have created a fictional system in this instance to answer the question "Is an apple an orange?"

The question-answering system we create is called a "model" and is created through a process called training. Training is about creating an accurate model that answers all of our questions accurately most of the time. To train a model, it is necessary to gather data. For example, the color of the fruit (as a wavelength of light) or the sugar content (as a percentage).

Blockchain allows you to track the provenance and audit the evidence used to determine whether fruit is an orange or an apple. If the fruit is more expensive, the business can prove it isn't "juicing up its books" by tagging more fruits as apples.

Explaining AI decisions

The European Union adopted a law that requires that all decisions made by machines be easily explained. Companies could face fines up to billions of dollars. The EU General Data Protection Regulation, (GDPR), was enacted in 2018. It includes the right to request an explanation for algorithmic decisions and the right to opt out of certain algorithmic decisions.

Every second, a huge amount of data are produced. This is more data than human beings can assess and use to conclude. AI applications can assess large data sets with many variables and learn about and connect the variables that are relevant to their tasks and objectives. AI is being adopted in many industries and applications and we are increasingly relying on their results. However, AI decisions must be validated by humans for accuracy.

Blockchain can be used to clarify the origin, transparency, understanding, explanations, and justifications for these outcomes and decisions. Blockchain's inherent attributes will make it easier to audit decisions and any associated data points. Blockchain is a key technology that brings trust to transactions in a network; therefore, infusing blockchain into AI decision-making processes could be the element needed to achieve the transparency necessary to fully trust the decisions and outcomes derived from AI.

Blockchain and the Internet of Things

Today's IoT already includes more than a billion connected, intelligent devices. We are at the edge of a revolution in electronics and other industries due to the expected increase of hundreds of billions of connected devices.

Industries are now able to collect data and gain insights from it, and then make decisions based upon that data. There is a lot of trust in the information that has been gathered. The truth is that we don't know the source of these data. Should we make decisions or transact based on data that we can't verify?

So, for example, was whether data derived from an Atlantic Ocean sensor or was the temperature limit in the shipping container? Although the IoT use cases vary in size, they all share the same trust issue.

Blockchain can give real trust to data captured by IoT. It is intended to grant devices an identity at the time they are created. This identity can then be validated and verified through their entire lifecycle using blockchain. IoT systems that are based on reputation and device identity protocols have great potential. Each device can have its public blockchain key and can send encrypted challenge and reply messages to other devices. This protocol ensures that a device is in complete control of its identity. In addition, a device with an identity can develop a reputation or history that is tracked by a blockchain.

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Smart contracts represent the business logic of a blockchain network. These smart contracts execute autonomously within the guidelines of the network when a transaction has been proposed. Smart contracts are a key component of IoT networks. They allow for automated coordination and authorization of transactions and interactions. IoT's original purpose was to provide actionable insights and surface data at the right time.

Smart homes, for example, are now possible and almost everything can be connected. These IoT devices can take action if something goes wrong. For example, they could order a new part. We need a way to govern the actions taken by these devices, and smart contracts are a great way to do so.

In an ongoing experiment I have followed in Brooklyn, New York, a community is using a blockchain to record the production of solar energy and enable the purchase of excess renewable energy credits. Through its history of records and trade, the device has its own identity. The blockchain allows people to easily aggregate their purchasing power, share the maintenance burden, and have confidence that the devices are recording solar production.

The ability to manage and autonomously control devices and the actions they take will become increasingly important as IoT evolves and grows in popularity. Smart contracts and blockchain are well-positioned to integrate these capabilities into IoT.

The convergence of new technology

Blockchain is the intersection of IoT, AI, and Cloud technologies. Blockchain has the potential to bring trust, which is currently missing from many of these technologies. Diverse users can build trust.

A blockchain is different from a database with a single administrator. Instead of allowing one administrator to modify or delete data, multiple administrators can "referee" it. Once the administrators have reached a consensus, the data is encrypted in blocks that are cryptographically "chained" together to form a tamper-resistant ledger.

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Blockchain is used by AI, IoT, and Cloud to track the provenance, proofs, and permissions of data used or emanating from these systems. This increases the data's trust tremendously. This trust will enable IoT, AI, and Cloud to be adopted with no fear of compromise. It will also allow for a new era in the application and adoption of these technologies that can transform everyday life.

Data we trust... after you add some blockchain.