What's on the Horizon for AI and Blockchain? An Interview with Barbara Bickham of WIFAX

Blockchain and AI

At the Future of Blockchain and DLT Technology panel at this year's Crypto Invest Summit (CIS), Barbara Bickham made a prediction:

"In 2 years, when the quantum computer is more prevalent, nodes of blockchains will live there," she explains. "This will allow for more security since a quantum computer is near impossible to hack. Also, this will give blockchains instant scalability, allowing them to be faster than they are now."

She also predicted that AI's role in the future of blockchain will be two-fold: governance and consensus.  

Bickham provides strategic advice and technical execution for companies incorporating blockchain and/or artificial intelligence into their company and products. She is also Managing Director at WIFAX (Women's Innovation Fund Accelerator). 

In this interview, below, Bickham shares her insights on the evolving relationship between AI and blockchain as well as a more in-depth discussion of her CIS prediction. 

Can you explain the connection between AI and blockchain - besides both being emerging technologies?

Currently, there is no connection between blockchain and AI. Most AI transactions require more speed than most blockchains can provide, and are done off of the blockchain. There is some work at the consensus level of the blockchain to combine transaction validation and AI. This would be a real breakthrough.

Will these technologies become interdependent? 

Yes. At some point, when the computing speeds are fast enough they will become more interdependent.

What are some practical applications of AI and blockchain working together?

Some practical uses of blockchain and AI working together in the current technology landscape are supply chain, how you track the logistics, fraud and external events. Further, cryptocurrency mining is an application for AI to more rapidly validate transactions on the blockchain.

Financial products can combine AI and blockchain to improve trading via bots, predictive analysis and regression analysis. AI can also help distribute work on blockchains (load balancing, computing power and storage).

Examples of companies with AI in action include: 

DeepBrain Chain - Distributing supply processing power to create neural networks to lower the barrier to entry for companies who use AI.

Namache - AI and blockchain for supply chain.

Numer.ai - a hedge fund that has tokenized data science algorithms that power hedge fund trades.

Are there any examples that demonstrate social and environmental benefits of integrating AI and blockchain?

Smart sustainable cities can benefit from combining blockchain and AI. For example, water usage can be tracked via IOT devices, AI can determine the water usage based upon those devices, this can be recorded on the blockchain. AI can then detect patterns in the water from the IOT data and record these anomalies on the blockchain as well. This could apply to electric grids, telecom infrastructure, traffic patterns for smart vehicles, tracking food, and many other applications where something needs to be recorded.

Is current technology advanced enough to effectively implement practical applications?

Yes. We can do this now. Since most of the practical applications that are based upon infrastructure don't require real-time (sub-second) computing power, near-realtime (seconds or minutes) is usually fine. For a consumer-facing application, this needs to be improved.

Could you elaborate on the prediction you announced at CIS? 

As I mentioned, with the advancement of quantum computing AI will do two things regarding blockchain: governance and consensus. Governance will decide how the blockchain is run. Consensus will decide how the blocks are validated. So if there is mining, then it can be done on a quantum computer.

AI can determine which nodes are operating efficiently and can truly distribute validation if needed or take a node offline for maintenance. This will be “Blockchain in a Box.”

The big questions that arise from my prediction: Who will win and control this “Blockchain in a Box” and what are the ethical implications of owning it?

You can connect with Barbara on LinkedinTwitter and Instagram.

Annie Brown is an emerging tech enthusiast, with a focus on blockchain and women in AI.