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Blockchain AI: Consensus as the Mechanism to foster ‘Friendly’ AI
Melanie Swan   Nov 17, 2014   Broader Perspective  

The blockchain is the decentralized public ledger upon which cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin run; the blockchain is possibly the next Internet; the blockchain is an information technology; the blockchain is a trustless network; the blockchain is an M2M/IOT payment network for the machine economy; and the blockchain is a consensus model at scale, the mechanism we have been waiting for that could help to usher in an era of friendly machine intelligence.

The blockchain’s consensus mechanism could be instrumental in the connected world of Bitcoin which necessarily accommodates communication between humans and machines, and the possibility of increasingly autonomous machine actions and entities which could lead to artificial intelligence and a technological singularity (a moment when machine intelligence supersedes human intelligence).

Large Possibility Space for Intelligence

Speculatively looking towards the longer term, there may be a large possibility space of intelligence that includes humans, enhanced humans, different forms of human-machine hybrids, digital mind uploads, and different forms of artificial intelligence like simulated brains and advanced machine learning algorithms. These intelligences would likely not be operating in isolation, but would be connected to communications networks. To achieve their goals, digital intelligences will want to conduct certain transactions over the network, many of which could be managed by blockchain and other consensus mechanisms.

Only Friendly AIs are able to get their Transactions Executed 

One of the real benefits of consensus models is that they could possibly enforce friendly AI, which is to say cooperative, moral players within a society. In decentralized trust networks, an agent’s reputation (where agents themselves remain pseudonymous) could be an important factor in whether its transactions could be executed, such that malicious players cannot get their transactions executed or recognized on the network. (It does not matter if malicious players masquerade as bonafide players since the reputation requirement and network incentives elicit good behavior from all players, malicious and bonafide alike).

Some of the key network operations that any digital intelligence may want executed are secure access, authentication and validation, and economic exchange. Effectively, any network transaction that any intelligent agent cares about to conduct their goals will require some form of access or authentication that is consensus-signed, which cannot be obtained unless the agent has a good (benevolent) reputational standing on the network. This is how Friendly AI could be effectuated in a blockchain consensus-based model.

The Blockchain Consensus-Recommended Data is a High-Resolution Information Technology

The blockchain is an information technology, a consensus-derived third tier of modulated, denser, freer-flowing information. Level one is dumb, unenhanced, unmodulated data; level two is socially-recommended data, data elements enriched by social network peer recommendation, and now, level three is blockchain consensus-recommended data, data’s highest-yet recommendation level per group consensus-supported accuracy and quality.

Consensus data is data that comes with crowd-voted confirmation of quality, the vote of a populace standing behind the data quality, effectuated by a seamless automated nonce-mining mechanism.

Possibly, the blockchain is precisely the kind of scalable information authentication and validation mechanism necessary to expand to a global and eventually beyond-planetary society. The blockchain as an information technology provides high-resolution modulation regarding the quality and authenticity of information.  

Melanie Swan, MBA, is an Affiliate Scholar of the IEET. Ms. Swan, principal of the MS Futures Group, is a philosopher, science and technology futurist, and options trader.



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