AI as an engine of Web3

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The increasing use of AI tools like the Microsoft-backed ChatGPT and Google’s Bard have raised exciting as well as worrisome prospects on what AI can do – or is already doing – for Web3.

Multiverse PH founding editor Paolo Romero

Web3, the latest iteration of the World Wide Web that is decentralized, personalized, trust-free, and transparent, needs to scale faster and be more accessible, attractive even, and AI – and its subset machine learning (ML) – can push that in various technologies used in the digital ecosystem.

AI, which includes speech recognition, natural language processing (NLP), image and object recognition, process vast amounts of data to predict outcomes or probabilities, generate the best answers, or offer optimal courses of actions that is needed in foundational technologies of Web3 like blockchains.

For blockchains and distributed ledgers, AI could help lessen lags or reduce “waiting” time and make consensus mechanisms more efficient, among others. This also leads us to decentralized applications (dApps), decentralized finance (DeFi), and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). 

AI and ML can make their protocols leaner, smart contracts more responsive to complex and changing situations, and help efficiently manage, for example, numerous accounts as in the case of DeFi. DAOs can have more data-driven and calibrated decision-making. Self-learning in AI is important as complexity in the Web3 grows.

A key characteristic of Web3 is that it is personalized where users have more control over their content and data, therefore more privacy as well as opportunities to earn from them given that this digital ecosystem is decentralized. 

Personalization can be best experienced in the metaverse, a major feature of Web3. We could imagine a more interactive, easily relatable, or more emotional or human-like avatars and “livable” worlds in the metaverse through AI. 

Users or their avatars can improve their search for companions or even easily avoid those they dislike, limit their circle through their personal AI. One could use a personal AI to do his or her “administrative” duties or help organize their lives in the growing metaverse.

The Web3 and the metaverse will surely be boosted by AI features of speech, image, and object recognition as well as NLP for users.

The same goes for NFTs, which can be more dynamic and interactive through AI. Virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality technology is expected to be deeply immersive through AI.

However, pattern recognition and data analysis, among other features of AI may also make it also easier from some (bad) actors to deanonymize targeted users in certain blockchains. AI may also make it easier to detect vulnerabilities in specific technologies in the Web3 that can be exploited for possible scams and attacks.

Information and Communications Secretary Ivan John Uy earlier spoke to Multiverse PH on the metaverse and AI that he said can be harnessed for good. He said the Philippines could harness the metaverse to promote tourism as what other countries are doing so would be visitors could go first on virtual tours of destinations.

Uy however also cautioned on possible negative effects of AI – intended or unintended – in the metaverse. He cited for example of a person keeping a departed loved one “alive” in the metaverse out of grief that could be unhealthy in the long run.

Geoffrey Hinton, one of the “Godfathers of AI” whose works on neural networks gave rise to the likes of ChatGPT, left Google last April so he could talk freely on the dangers of AI without having to consider the repercussions of his statements on the tech giant. Hinton however stressed that Google has acted “very responsibly.”

Of course, I asked ChatGPT on the future of Web3 with AI and it answered: “When combined, Web3 and AI can create a powerful synergy, enabling new capabilities and applications.”

It cited “aspects” in Web3 where AI is very much part of like Decentralized AI, Trust and Transparency, Data Ownership and Privacy, Enhanced User Experience, Autonomous Systems, Smart Contracts and AI Integration, AI-Driven Content Creation, and Fraud Detection and Security.

“While the full extent of the future of Web3 with AI is yet to be realized, the combination of decentralized technologies with intelligent algorithms has the potential to revolutionize various industries, reshape user experiences, and empower individuals in the digital world.”

There you go.

*****

This is my first and last opinion piece here as I am leaving the journalism profession covering the police beat, defense and security, and politics for The Philippine STAR. My interest in cryptocurrency and blockchain started in 2018 or nearly 10 years after the first block in the Bitcoin blockchain—the Genesis block—was mined by Satoshi Nakamoto. Of course, many, many Filipinos and institutions have already been looking at bitcoin and blockchain technology years before.

I was thinking of how developments in cryptocurrency and blockchain, and later, the Web3, should be reported in the country even if I could not fully comprehend them. Even now, I find it difficult to grasp the technology. The pandemic struck and I thought the appetite for such topics might not be strong. But I was wrong.

I recall broaching the idea a year ago to STAR president and CEO Miguel Belmonte who told me: “But I don’t understand that.” I said: “I don’t understand these either, but somebody has to report these.”

So, after some beta testing last December, and working on content while doing reporting on my main be at covering politics and policies in the Senate, Multiverse PH was launched last March with the support of nearly all departments of the newspaper for which I will always be grateful, especially to Iris Gonzales, Janvic Mateo, Lawrence Agcaoili, and Rainier Allan Ronda for contributing articles and help run the site despite their heavy workload covering their respective news beats.

The site is the first of its kind in the country from a mainstream news organization.

It is gratifying that succeeding me is Thiago Bardic, whose exemplary work in BusinessWorld meant he will do a much, much better job.

I fully share his view that news and communities should be front and center of Multiverse PH, where start-ups, talents must not only be heard, but also be encouraged and supported.

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