Since the beginning of modern times, each industrial revolution was driven by different automation. While factory machines and fossil fuels drove the previous industrial revolutions, the ongoing automation revolution is based on data-driven artificial intelligence (AI). Understanding its impact and what will be required to support the AI-driven automation revolution is a fundamental necessity.
So, as we evaluate the impact and the support needed to harness this automation revolution, it seems that at the center of this revolution is the growing need for computing power. There are indicators that raw computing power is on its way to replacing fossil fuels and will be the most valued fuel in the rapidly emerging intelligence age. From where we are to where we want to reach in our intelligence automation journey, further advances in artificial intelligence require enormous amounts of computational power.
Just as computing power is essential to AI, so too is the data that is fed and how the results are used. This is mainly because, ultimately, the input of AI is the data through which complex algorithms provide connections, patterns, and useful insight that provide valuable output for individuals and entities across nations: its government, industries, organizations and academia (NGIOA).
As seen across nations, many initiatives of blockchain currently provide computing power for the needs of AI. In addition to providing computing power, blockchain technologies also hold the promise of adding structure and accountability to AI algorithms and may help in much-needed areas like security, quality and integrity of the intelligence AI produces. Now since big data fuels, artificial intelligence and blockchain generate big data, individually and collectively the future of AI is tied to the future of blockchain. That brings us to an important question: How can blockchain technology infrastructures that we have power AI currently for its computing needs of tomorrow when it is struggling to meet its own computing needs of today?
Acknowledging this emerging paradigm, Risk Group initiated a much-needed discussion on the future of blockchain with Prof. Irving Wladawsky-Berger, a Research Affiliate at MIT Sloan School of Management, Fellow of the Initiative on the Digital Economy and of the MIT Connection Science initiative, and a Guest Columnist at WSJ CIO Journal on Risk Roundup.
Disclosure: Risk Group LLC is my company
Risk Group discusses The Future of Blockchain with Prof. Irving Wladawsky-Berger, a Research Affiliate at MIT Sloan School of Management, Fellow of the Initiative on the Digital Economy and of the MIT Connection Science initiative, a Guest Columnist at WSJ CIO Journal, and Chairman of the Advisory Board at r4 Technologies based in the United States.
There is no doubt that blockchain is a disruptive technology and will give nations and all its components the foundation to the decentralized future. While blockchain is a disruptive technology, the way it is being used and applied has enormous energy and environmental impacts. The reason behind this is the process that is at the core of blockchain systems. The security of blockchain technology comes from its encryption, and the consensus mechanism of blockchain necessitates that all users require permission to write on the chain. Each of these requirements individually and collectively involves the intricate use of algorithms and enormous amounts of computing power. As the computing power needed to keep the current applications of blockchain running is not sustainable, it is one of the critical challenges facing the future of blockchain.
Need for Increased Computing Power
It is not only blockchain and artificial intelligence, but all existing and emerging technologies that are accelerating global computing power consumption. As a result, there is a visible need for increased computing power. Now, as technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning blockchain, and the internet of things begin to require significant computing power, there is a need to not only process computation more efficiently but also to evolve both hardware and software to meet the demand for increased computing power. That brings us to an important point: there is a clear need to move away from traditional blockchain chips to low energy, scalable, and sustainable chips. How are the current blockchain initiatives changing their approach to hardware and software?
Centralized Processing Infrastructure
It seems that the current approach to centralized processing infrastructure (e.g., data centers) is not enough to meet the rapidly growing compiling, rendering, and predictive analytics needs of artificial intelligence in a cost-effective and energy-efficient manner. It is believed that evolution in hardware has become a necessity.
Neuromorphic Computing Chips
Neuromorphic computing may solve this ongoing problem of computing power by doing all the processing and functioning in the chips themselves rather than sending messages back and forth with a more massive server/cloud and by being event-driven and only operating when needed, thereby imitating the brain. As a result, the rise of neuromorphic chips and computing will likely bring much-needed energy efficiency and increases in computing power.
Neuromorphic computing chips will likely be the future of not only artificial intelligence but also of the blockchain, as they give us an ability to develop low energy consuming cryptocurrency as well as distributed systems. That brings us to an important question: how are nations preparing for how neuromorphic computing will shape the future of blockchain and artificial intelligence?
As seen over the years, there have been formidable advances in computing and software. However, the developments have so far only been dedicated to software, and not on hardware. Neuromorphic computing and chips bring the much-needed evolution in computer hardware, allowing us not only to enhance machine intelligence for the complex problems that need to be solved for the future of humanity but also to give us a scalable and sustainable model for the future of blockchain and decentralized systems. With this evolving computing power, the future of blockchain and artificial intelligence seems to be tied together and perhaps secured and sustainable.
Evolving Computational Capacity
The demand for AI computation is multiplying rapidly with costs increasing proportionally as well. From the current alternative of centralized processing farms to a future filled with the democratization of neuromorphic computing chips, we are witnessing a disruptive effort towards not only reducing the cost of computing through neuromorphic computing chips but also changing the very fundamentals of machine learning and distributed systems.
New power for blockchain and AI is emerging from neuromorphic computing chips. This emerging approach will not only be efficient at collecting and distributing computing power for the needs of artificial intelligence but will also allow scalability and sustainability of blockchain itself. Neuromorphic computing and chips (hardware) are the keys to the scalability, security and sustainability of blockchain—and the very future of artificial intelligence.
Decentralized intelligence will influence and impact each one of us. As we see, the questions for tomorrow are being solved today, and nothing can distract from the stellar progress coming from the potential of neuromorphic computing chips to boost the scalability, sustainability and security of blockchain and AI. The time is now to think about the future of humanity.
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Jayshree Pandya is Founder of Risk Group, Host of Risk Roundup Podcast, Author of The Book, The Global Age & a Strategic Security Adviser. Jayshree Pandya (née Bhatt), Founder and CEO of Risk Group LLC, is a scientist, a visionary, an expert in disruptive technologies and a globally recognized strategic security thought leader and influencer. She is actively engaged in driving the global discussions on existing and emerging technologies, technology transformation and nation preparedness. Her work focuses on the impact of existing and emerging technological innovations on nations, nation preparedness and the very survival, security and sustainability of humanity.