If you relate two of today’s megatrends on the technological front: Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Blockchain, you can draw some parallels. I don’t think I need to write much about what those technologies are; there are a plethora of sites out there to explore those topics in great length. I will only expand just a little bit, so I can describe the striking similarity that occurred to me.
As far as Blockchain technology is concerned, there is a great debate out there on the consensus mechanisms. The two most popular are POW (Proof of Work) and POS (Proof of Stake). Let’s explore very briefly those two mechanisms:
Proof of Work as mentioned in Wikipedia is: “a form of cryptographic proof in which one party (the prover) proves to others (the verifiers) that a certain amount of a specific computational effort has been expended.” POW is popularized by Bitcoin which is the first created cryptocurrency and is still leading in terms of market cap.
On the other hand, Proof of Stake protocols “are a class of consensus mechanisms for blockchains that work by selecting validators in proportion to their quantity of holdings in the associated cryptocurrency“. Proof of Stake, is considered a more modern protocol which was developed mainly to address POW pain points. Those include: increased computational cost, high energy consumption and thus big environmental impact. On the other hand, users criticize POS for being more centralized, since users who have large amounts can control it. Moreover, users express concerns about how secure are POS protocols and whether those blockchains can be considered as being securities (like common stock of a corporation). Some very popular proof of Stake blockchains are: Ethereum, Cardano, Polkadot, Avalanche, Tezos and Solana.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Let’s head now to the Artificial Intelligence (AI) topic. This is something that I am not that much familiar with, but I will try to unwarp the main theme that I see. But first things first: let’s give a brief definition. This will help unfold the similarity I am trying to convey. Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence – perceiving, synthesizing and inferring information – demonstrated by machines. In essence, technologies such as: visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, translation, all constitute AI.
One of AI’s promises is the work automation. As AI is getting more advanced over time, lots of unskilled working hours can be substituted by computers and automation systems. Right now, those tasks include mostly simple repetitive tasks. But as AI capabilities are improving, it will eventually also replace more complex processes, such as decision making and managerial tasks.
But it’s not only cost cutting of human resources involved in AI. It will enable us to solve complex problems and tackle difficult challenges on a global scale. More importantly, those solutions will be provided in a more efficient way. The improved efficiency will subsequently help us to consume less resources (all sorts of them: time, capital, energy, human effort).
So how Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Blockchain relate?
So here is the common theme I saw: these technologies both walk us out of a “work” intensive process. They seem to validate our proclivity to conserve energy & effort as expressed in the principle of least effort. In blockchain, we swift from an effort intensive validation method (POW) to a passive POS method. In a similar trend, with the use of AI, we choose to outsource some of our work & effort to machines and let them optimize the resources needed for that work.