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How The Blockchain Industry Could Help Defend Against Adversarial AI

Shortly after more than 2,600 tech industry leaders including Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak petitioned to temporarily pause AI development, Chainlink co-founder Sergey Nazarov penned an argument for encryption as a countermeasure to protect human society against the misuse or misalignment of AI.

Nazarov advocated for AI-resistant systems built with decentralized technologies, such as oracle networks, that safeguard against single points of failure. He predicted such systems will become “the only way forward” if AI accelerates crises of faith in longstanding institutions like traditional finance.

During a recent in-depth interview with Nathaniel Whittemore on The Breakdown podcast, Nazarov elaborated on how AI’s rapid evolution could accelerate society’s shift toward trust-minimized systems.

“AI is exciting and has a lot of great applications, but it’s the kind of technology that can get away from people without the right controls in place to manage risk,” Nazarov said. 

While he acknowledged AI “presents unique risks and a unique profile for what an adversary could be and could do,” Nazarov clarified the blockchain industry’s approach to adversarial AI as simply “another type of adversary,” to which decentralized technologies are uniquely resistant by means of consensus.

“The reason why consensus has better security properties is because instead of having one entity to compromise, you have tens or hundreds or thousands of entities,” he explained.

For example, Nazarov said blockchain-based systems like decentralized exchanges could better protect fundamental societal functions such as the ability to transact in financial markets. 

“One of the simplest things that AIs could do frankly is they could go and crash markets,” he cautioned.

Not only do decentralized systems remove control from centralized entities that can be compromised through a single point of failure; blockchains are deterministic environments that ensure predictable outcomes. Nazarov said encryption technologies including blockchains will have “a very large role to play” in a world made more unreliable and unpredictable due to AI misuse or misbehavior.

Ultimately, Nazarov sees the blockchain industry as a solution to all forms of unpredictability in a world that’s inevitably becoming less reliable. “If AI becomes a form of unpredictability, then it’s possible that our industry becomes the solution to that problem,” he said.

Watch Nathaniel Whittemore’s full interview with Sergey Nazarov on The Breakdown podcast.

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