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Decentralized AI: The Power and the Necessity

Analytics Seminar 17th June 2019 by Dr. Ben Goertzel

Decentralized AI: The Power and the Necessity


Dr. Ben Goertzel
Chairman and Chief Scientist at Singularity Studio
CEO & Founder SingularityNET Foundation

Dr. Ben Goertzel is the chairman of Singularity Studio, and founder of SingularityNET Foundation. His research on Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), the idea that Machines that could think just like humans, provides the backdrop for Dr. Ben’s work with SingularityNET. The technological singularity occurs when humans invent the first truly intelligent machine (and also the last we’ll need to make) that sets off an exponential growth in machine intelligence and creates fundamental, irreversible changes in society. Inspired by this broad vision, SingularityNET was established to accelerate towards the Singularity.

One conceivable way that could come about, is if an archetypal young genius invents an AGI and uploads it to the internet, bringing about the singularity- a familiar but fantastical scene taken from movies. A scenario more grounded in reality, would be a system involving the co-operation between different AIs, each individually performing different functions.


Current Problem

The singularity raises human and ethical issues, with the conversation shifting over the years from concerns about a “Terminator”-like scenario, to tangible social changes such as the loss of jobs. Fewer people will need to be, gainfully employed in the future with people simply living off the returns on capital. Dr. Ben believes that the application of AIs for the global benefit, in such a scenario, would be crucial in avoiding a dramatic increase in inequality and avoiding a descent into the dystopias of pop culture. Many AIs today are already controlled by large corporations that provide services in exchange for huge amounts of data they use to empower themselves and their AI. Two problems arise from this, one is that if current AI is mainly used for advertising, what is the possibility that the objectives of AGI will be any better? Secondly, the current AI ecosystem is hijacked by big tech firms and training their AI through large amounts of data and economies of scale, will the smaller governments and the broader society be able to compete? SingularityNET as the Solution

That necessitates an alternative model. The SingularityNET platform was developed as a medium to help create an AGI, and connect users, Algorithms, and developers seamlessly. Anyone can upload and use AI on SingularityNET in the world. The next step is a blockchain protocol, which is what enables its decentralized control and transactions. By managing requests and communication between participants in a transparent way, it can then introduce more participatory and democratic dynamics into the AI world, bringing more developers and users into the picture instead of just centralized platforms. The blockchain also allows for reputation systems to be developed that circumvent the current issues with It would be a decentralized network of AI programs. Limitations exist for now, in terms of the underlying infrastructure for running the network and the speed of current blockchain technologies, but Dr. Ben expects that these problems can be resolved with time.

The possibilities are endless on such a network. AIs can outsource sub-tasks to other AIs- for example, a video processing AI could have the speech component be analyzed by a different AI. SingularityNET does not completely solve this in its current form, but again further development, possibly on other projects could resolve that. For example within genomics research, the project sought to study combinations of genetic variations to understand longevity. While traditional academic studies have only been able to investigate the effect of a single change in the treatment group, the power of AI enables the study of whole sets of permutations of changes, to discover patterns.


Collaborating with Businesses

Finally, to develop the platform further Singularity Studio, which is an effort that builds on top of the SingularityNET infrastructure to offer enterprise applications for companies, with an initial focus on Financial Technology (FinTech) and the Internet of Things (IOT).

On balance, Dr. Ben notes that the big companies should not be viewed as an enemy- it is rather the overarching power structures like oligopolies that control industries which should be eradicated. The Linux operating system, for example, owes a lot of its success to large corporations such as IBM that have spent considerable resources developing it. The idea and the network remains new and very exciting, and Dr. Ben likens it to the internet in 1994. The key difference is in how fast things will develop because of the acceleration in advances in technology, as well as our adaptation of it.

Last updated on 28 Jun 2019 .