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OpEd: Decentralized AI Can Help Protect Humanity

Coindesk | Michael J. Casey | Apr 14, 2023

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In order to prevent the potentially destructive impact of AI on humanity, we need open-source innovation and collective governance that is possible through blockchain protocols and Web3, rather than the monopoly defaulting structure of Web2.

  • The recent alarmist demand for a six-month pause or even a militarily enforced shutdown in AI research – from people with experience, money and influence in the artificial intelligence industry – is founded on some fundamentally flawed thinking that will encourage the same destructive outcome for humanity that we seek to avoid. That the U.S. government is simultaneously orchestrating a crackdown on the crypto industry, a field of open-source innovation that develops the kind of cryptography and network coordination technologies needed to manage AI threats, makes this an especially dangerous moment for all of us.
  • Lessons learned from the centralized and ad-driven Web2 economy, where a small group of data-aggregating behemoths became the beneficiaries of "surveillance capitalism" by using personal data to shape human behavior and maximize ad revenue.
    • AI development under the same monopoly defaulting structure could lead to an even more exploitative system, but the solution is not to halt the research, but to incentivize AI developers to subvert the model.

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  • Update capitalism: Market capitalism system worked for the analog economy, but the internet age requires a new model of decentralized ownership and governance.
    • Crypto technology could help define what that future looks like, even if we need guardrails for it.
    • Jacob Steeves, a founder of decentralized AI-development protocol Bittensor, who believes in building open ownership of AI where if someone can contribute, they can own it.
  • Concerns of regulatory capture in the AI industry.
    • OpenAI, a private company that recently took a $10 billion investment from Microsoft, could benefit if the demands of the open letter calling for a six-month pause in AI development are implemented, making it difficult for competitors to challenge OpenAI's dominance in the industry.
    • With the U.S. government's hostility toward crypto, a worrisome convergence emerges that could harm the open-source innovation needed to avoid AI's dangerous capture by self-serving centralized interests.

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