Unlocking Synergies: Ethereum’s Buterin Explores the Next Wave of AI-Crypto Convergence

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has lent his perspective to the search for intersections between AI and crypto.

Buterin takes a deep dive into the subject, outlining four major categories for this intersection.

The Ethereum co-founder calls for caution as the open-source nature of crypto works at odds with AI.

With AI and Crypto sharing the limelight in the emerging tech space in recent years, enthusiasts continue to seek intersections between the two fields. At present, dominant narratives include AI decentralization and blockchains providing data storage and tracking for AI models. However, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has pushed beyond these in a recent blog post.

Ethereum’s Buterin Digs Deeper
In a blog post on Tuesday, January 30, Buterin asserted that there were more promising intersections between AI and crypto with the advent of more capable and powerful AI and blockchains.

The Ethereum co-founder outlined potential intersections in four primary categories by likening future roles AI could play in crypto to the components of a game. These categories included AI “as a player in the game,” “as an interface to the game,” “as the rules of the game,” and as the objective of the game,” listed according to their perceived level of viability.

“AI as the Player in the Game”
Per Buterin’s analysis, AI as a player in the game represents the most viable AI-crypto intersection. As explained by the Ethereum co-founder, this category has existed since DEXes gained popularity.

“Any time there is an exchange, there is an opportunity to make money through arbitrage, and bots can do arbitrage much better than humans can. This use case has existed for a long time, even with much simpler AIs than what we have today, but ultimately it is a very real AI + crypto intersection,” he wrote.
However, Buterin noted that arbitrage bots were not the only example of this AI-crypto intersection. He stated that prediction markets were also exploring this use case, using AIOmen’s, a demo prediction market’s, support for AI players to bolster liquidity and attract large participants.

“AI as an Interface to the Game”
Moving further, the Ethereum co-founder tipped AI as an interface to the game as the next most viable use case. Buterin suggested improving services in this category, like wallet scam detection features with AI.

“AI could give a much richer human-friendly explanation of what kind of dapp you are participating in, the consequences of more complicated operations that you are signing, whether or not a particular token is genuine … and so on,” he wrote.

On the downside, however, he noted that in this application, scammers may also be able to optimize their efforts to not trigger the wallet’s defenses with access to the AI assistant due to crypto’s open-source nature.

“AI as the Rules of the Game”
Applying AI as the rules of the game would see DAOs and smart contracts cede subjective decision-making to AI. Here, however, the Ethereum co-founder calls for extra caution. At the same time, he points out that the open-source nature of crypto again works against the model, allowing an exploiter the chance to create optimized attacks to trick the system.

While he concedes that this concern can be theoretically addressed with zero knowledge proofs, he points out that, in practice, this approach is computationally cumbersome.

“AI as the Objective of the Game”
In the final application, Buterin points to the development of decentralized and trusted AI that applications can be built on to eliminate bias and unfair treatment. However, he points out that to achieve this, developers would have to create “trustworthy black-box AIs” whose contents are not known by anyone and are trained through some combination of blockchain technology and multi-party computation.

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