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Web3 decentralization technology: a complementary tool for generative AI development towards a sustainable world

By Alex Hong

Apr 24 2023 · 8 min read

Illuminem Voices
Consumers Green Tech · illuminemX · Green Tech

What is Web3?

A new era of the internet marked by decentralisation and democracy is being ushered in with the introduction of Web3 decentralisation technologies. Built on blockchain technology, Web3, commonly referred to as the decentralised web, is a new paradigm for internet infrastructure that aspires to build a more open, secure, and transparent network that is owned and governed by its users. The development of generative AI, a branch of artificial intelligence that focuses on developing intelligent systems that can generate novel content including images, movies, music, and text, could greatly benefit from the application of this technology.

Generative AI is a fast-expanding topic that has a wide range of uses in industries like marketing, education, healthcare, and entertainment. Yet, there are many obstacles to the creation of generative AI, including the requirement for enormous data sets, powerful computers, and complex algorithms. Decentralized Web3 technology may offer an additional remedy to some of these problems.

Benefits of Web3

One of the main benefits of Web3 technology is that it permits decentralised data processing and storage, meaning that data can be handled and stored on a distributed computer network rather than a centralised server. For creating generative AI, where a lot of data is needed to train models, this can be quite helpful. Decentralized data processing and storage allow for some of the privacy and security concerns related to centralised data storage to be reduced, as well as the costs and time needed to gather and process data.

Decentralized governance, which means that the rules and protocols that govern the network are decided by the community of users rather than a central authority, is another benefit of Web3 technology. This can be especially helpful for developing generative AI, where there is a requirement for accountability and openness in the creation of algorithms and models. It is possible to guarantee that the growth of AI systems is governed by moral and social norms that are consistent with the goals and values of the larger community by utilising decentralised governance.

Moreover, Web3 technology may offer a supplemental answer to a few of the technological issues that arise in the creation of generative AI. It is conceivable to build decentralised markets where AI developers can purchase and sell algorithms and models, for instance, using Web3 smart contracts. This can hasten the development of AI systems. Furthermore, Web3 technology can offer a framework for developing decentralised identification and reputation systems, which can aid in reducing some of the problems related to bias and discrimination in AI systems.

An era of immense potential possible with decentralisation

The need for decentralisation is growing along with the development of generative AI, which has the potential to disrupt a number of industries. In order to ensure that generative AI tools are utilised morally and for the good of society as a whole, decentralization—the spread of control and power away from a central authority—is essential.

Using Web3 and blockchain technology is one method of achieving decentralisation. Decentralized applications (dApps) can be developed and used utilising the Web3 framework, also known as the decentralised web. Web3's foundational technology, blockchain, enables safe, transparent transactions without the use of middlemen.

In a variety of ways, generative AI can be made decentralised by utilising Web3 and blockchain technologies. First, it can make it possible to establish decentralised markets where people and businesses can trade generative AI models and tools directly with one another. This not only encourages transparency but also lessens the possibility of bias and deception.

Second, decentralisation can make it possible to develop decentralised AI platforms and models, in which the data necessary to train these models is dispersed among a number of network nodes. By guaranteeing that generative AI models are trained on a variety of data, this not only helps to preserve data privacy but can also reduce the risk of bias and encourage ethical use.

Decentralization can also make it possible to develop decentralised governance systems for generative AI tools and models. Decentralized autonomous organisations (DAOs), which are businesses regulated by smart contracts on a blockchain, can be used to do this. Decision-making authority can be spread among all stakeholders, including users, developers, and regulators, by employing DAOs to manage generative AI systems, thereby fostering transparency and accountability.

Decentralization, Web3, and generative AI work in harmony with one another. While generative AI can aid in accelerating the development and uptake of Web3 and blockchain technologies, decentralisation can help to ensure that generative AI tools are utilised morally and for the good of society. As a result, it's critical that we keep researching the potential benefits of decentralisation and Web3 in the context of generative AI and fight to create a more egalitarian and decentralised future for everybody.

Implications of decentralisation and generative AI for global sustainability

Global sustainability is significantly impacted by generative AI and decentralisation. The decentralization of AI refers to the distribution of control over AI models among a bigger group of people and organisations as opposed to a small number of powerful individuals or governments. As a result, a more varied ecosystem of AI models and applications will be developed, making them better adapted to address a larger range of sustainability-related problems. 

Additionally, the application of generative AI in sustainability programmes can aid in resolving some of the most urgent problems facing the planet. For instance, generative AI can aid in the optimisation of energy use and waste reduction in structures and cities, resulting in more effective and sustainable resource utilisation. By anticipating demand and enhancing transportation routes, it can also assist in enhancing supply chain management and lowering the environmental effect of transportation. 

Moreover, the combination of Web3, blockchain, and generative AI can produce a potent symbiotic relationship that promotes sustainable behaviour and facilitates decentralised decision-making. In order to ensure that sustainability decisions are based on accurate and trustworthy information, generative AI models can be trained on data that is verified and validated by many sources by utilising the transparency and immutability of blockchain. This could result in more environmentally friendly behaviours in a variety of sectors, including industry, transportation, and agriculture. 

Decentralized decision-making that rewards sustainable behaviour is made possible by the decentralisation and integration of generative AI with Web3 and blockchain technology. This has the potential to significantly advance sustainability on a global scale.

The integrative challenge of Web3

The process of integrating Web3 technology into generative AI is difficult, and there are a number of issues that must be resolved in order to avoid the centralization issue that could give one organisation an excessive amount of control. The scope and quality of data collected via AI represent one of the biggest problems. A significant amount of data is required for successful AI projects, from which businesses can extract knowledge about their clients' needs in terms of goods and services. To avoid centralization and prevent an organisation from having too much power, this data should be obtained via decentralised sources in the context of Web3 technology.

The economic necessity of maturing to become AI-fuelled presents another obstacle to the integration of Web3 technologies into generative AI. Companies are encountering intrinsic hurdles in data management as they increase their AI experimentation, develop their data-related capabilities, acquire new technologies and personnel, and integrate AI into their business operations. In terms of Web3 technology, this means that businesses must invest in new infrastructure and hire personnel who have the necessary abilities to operate with decentralised systems.

Furthermore, while AI-based devices are quick and precise, they lack human characteristics and skills. Because of this, the question of whether AI will replace human employees makes the false assumption that AI and humans are equal in terms of traits and skills. Instead of replacing human intelligence, AI should enhance it. This implies that businesses should put more effort into developing a symbiotic relationship between people and AI in the context of Web3 technology than relying only on AI to make decisions.

Shortcomings and fears

Despite the potential advantages of Web3 decentralisation technology for the advancement of generative AI, some issues with its application exist. For instance, worries exist about the scalability and compatibility of Web3 networks, as well as the possibility of brand-new fraud schemes and security flaws. As a result, it's crucial to approach the adoption of Web3 technology cautiously and to make sure that it's done in a way that optimises its advantages while reducing its hazards.

Despite these technologically-based phobias, there are currently various worries regarding the possible harmful effects of generative AI, especially ChatGPT4. One worry is that these AI models might be used to spread false information and fake news, making it harder for people to tell what is true from what is not. There are also worries about the possibility of job losses because ChatGPT4 and other AI models might automate a lot of work that was previously done by people, which would lead to job losses and societal inequities.

Moreover, running generative AI models like ChatGPT can be quite expensive, restricting access to smaller businesses and organisations and leading to greater centralization of AI resources.

The creation of decentralised AI models that are more accessible and inexpensive for smaller businesses and organisations is possible thanks to decentralisation technology like Web3, which may help allay some of these worries.

Decentralized AI systems may also aid in preventing the concentration of power in the hands of a small number of powerful governments and enterprises. Before decentralised AI can compete effectively with centralised AI models like ChatGPT, there are still a number of obstacles to be addressed.

In conclusion, the development of generative AI can be greatly aided by Web3 decentralisation technology. These issues might be addressed by decentralisation technologies like Web3, but more study and development are required before decentralised AI becomes a practical substitute.

illuminem Voices is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of leading Sustainability & Energy writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.

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About the author

Alex Hong has over 20 years of experience in executive and tertiary education. He has led cross-tertiary teams in development, curation, faculty/programme management, and business development in education and eLearning projects. He is actively involved in Climate/Biodiversity/ESG-related business matchmaking and conferences regionally. Alex is LinkedIn’s Top Voices (Green) in Singapore 2022 and represents the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC) as the Ambassador of Southeast Asia. He is also part of the Youth Networking Business Committee of Asia (YNBC) and contributes to his community by volunteering as a mentor for a Singapore-based start-up incubator.

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