Today on our podcast we spoke with Lex Sokolin, partner and global director of fintech strategy at Autonomous Research, to discuss their latest 126-page report, #CRYPTO UTOPIA, looking at the “$20 billion Cambrian explosion” in cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology, and the emerging infrastructure to support, as he says, a “new type of internet” being built right under our noses.
Though the list of topics covered in this 40-minute interview was quite extensive, since our last conversation with Lex several months ago on AI’s trillion-dollar disruption of finance, we especially wanted to get his thoughts on how AI and crypto are coming together with this being one of the hottest areas in the venture capital space right now.
According to Lex, we're now in the process of creating AIs called “decentralized autonomous organizations” that, essentially, won’t be able to be turned off, stopped, or shut down by the government.
Here’s what he had to say on this point on today’s podcast, We Are Building a New Type of Internet, Says Lex Sokolin:
“What blockchain does is it creates the starting point for a system where it has the data already built into it—it's digital first so there's nothing to digitize with a blockchain-based system because all the records are there already by design. So if you're thinking about artificial intelligence, you are that much more likely to build it on a crypto infrastructure because it is digital first…
[Also] with crypto there is an independence between the developer of the software and the software itself so, for example, nobody is running and nobody is in charge of bitcoin. Bitcoin runs on thousands and thousands of computers that are independent of each other across a community that is in nearly every country in the world. There is no corporation that says update this patch. There's no centralization that matters. So if you were a government that wanted to shut it down, there's really nothing you can do. It's like trying to use a sword and slice through water because it just flows around you…
So, in a similar way, what crypto networks can do is embody digital actors; they can instantiate agents or what are called decentralized autonomous organizations. So you can imagine a corporation that exists on a blockchain that has some sort of software for making decisions and that runs on a public crypto network that's maintained on thousands or millions of computers all across the world, and there's no way to get rid of this thing. It just exists at this point, without taking the whole network down, which is pretty much impossible.
These are the ways in which crypto and AI intersect—one is the data, which is a digital first, native infrastructure that is perfect for AI (which is very hungry for data and needs that) and, number two, as you think about giving autonomy to agents and thinking about how they can behave independently, crypto gives the right foundation for that. Now, it's dangerous...but it's certainly an area where we are going to see a ton of more progress.”
By the way, for a fascinating conversation related to this subject, see our 2015 interview with AI-expert-turned-sci-fi-author Matthew Mather on his book Darknet, where he talks about the "reality is stranger than fiction" research that formed the basis of his book.