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AI and Blockchain: Who’s Listening to Your ChatGPT Conversations?

2023-02-17

Main Takeaways

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) has progressed by leaps and bounds, but its use comes with data protection and security risks.

  • Blockchain immutability, transparency, and consensus mechanisms all have the potential to make interacting with AI more secure.

As some of the most disruptive technologies around, blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) have the potential to build on each other's strengths.

In 2022 and 2023, AI has dominated technology headlines with impressive chatbots and other AI tools. ChatGPT, a chatbot developed by OpenAI and released in November 2022, has become almost synonymous with the topic of AI. 

While AI has captured the public’s imagination, it’s also a cause for concern in some sectors. For example, students have used AI to write their essays, while some see improved AI as a potential threat to their livelihoods. There are also safety concerns regarding the sharing of information and data with AI.

Just who exactly could be listening to your ChatGPT conversations? To explore this further, let’s take a look at how AI works.

Most chatbots use a machine learning model that studies and understands huge amounts of data, including natural language text to help chatbots communicate in a natural and effective manner. This data used to train chatbots could come from public tweets, online reviews, social media comments, and even information from past chatbot queries.

After analyzing this data, they begin to make connections between different topics, much like the human brain. When you interact with a chatbot, it takes your input, analyzes it on the relevant server, and sends its answer back to you.

Real Dangers of Artificial Intelligence

While the aforementioned tools are undoubtedly useful, there are potential issues with how humans interact with them. Just like any other piece of powerful technology, bad actors can easily misuse AI. Possible instances of misuse include:

  1. Data theft. An AI trading bot, advisor, or chatbot may not efficiently protect customer data. While blockchain relies on cryptographic methods to better protect user data, AI may not have the same in-built standards.

  2. Bad data sets. AI is only as good as the data on which it’s trained. If it uses false information, its output can be incorrect, misleading, and even offensive in some creative tasks.

  3. AI software — another point of attack for hackers. They could gain illicit access to the software to spread malware, install ransomware, steal data, or even remotely control users’ accounts. For example, if you have linked your trading account via API to the AI software, a hacker could access your account and make trades while posing as you.

  4. Hosting platform vulnerabilities. Connecting to an AI tool requires interaction with hosted software. The website, chatbot tool, and/or database that connects to these components are all stored on servers that may not be secured properly.

  5. Insufficient protocols and training for employees. When you bring in a third party, you must trust that they and their employees operate safely and securely. On the user’s end, it is necessary to learn how to use the AI software securely without inadvertently providing it with too much access to personal data.

Combating Privacy Protection Issues With Blockchain

Many of the issues described above have possible solutions in blockchain technology. By building blockchain-based AI software, we may be able to remove some of the privacy dangers present in AI.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a type of database that sorts information in blocks of data. The blocks are ordered sequentially, forming a chain. Once data has been stored on a blockchain, it's virtually impossible to modify or delete it as each block contains cryptographic information of the previous blocks.

Blockchains are prized for their highly secure nature and ability to generate consensus among non-aligned participants. Their immutability ensures data integrity, and their distributed nature makes it difficult for bad actors to manipulate the system. 

Proof-of-work (PoW) and proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanisms have both shown that it's possible to successfully and productively gather and coordinate millions of people.   

Overall, blockchain provides a solid base for dealing with some of the issues AI presents. Let’s look at two key areas where it can be best applied.

Encryption

Returning to the data theft problem, blockchain offers a secure way to encrypt sensitive information. Built into many blockchain networks are privacy features that can protect certain information from being viewed by external parties.

Some chains use zk-SNARKs to achieve this; cryptographic hashing is also extremely common, along with end-to-end encryption using public and private keys.

Incorporating these technologies into how we interact with AI could help improve its overall data security, as the only people who would be able to see the information transferred would be those who have permission to do so.

Identity and data authentication

AI chatbots are trained using huge amounts of data. Not all of it, however, is correct. While recording data on the blockchain doesn’t always ensure correctness, it does offer a transparent, auditable trail. Overall, this improves trust in the data being used and ensures that it isn’t tampered with later on.

Blockchains can also help with identity authentication. Only those who should have access to the data set will be able to add or change it. This can be controlled via private keys or even a consensus mechanism that decides what can be added in order to combat misinformation.

Conclusion

There are parallels between AI’s accessibility and impressive results and those of blockchain. Together, they have the potential to collectively turn their weaknesses into strengths.

As mentioned, blockchain has great potential to help us securely interact with AI tools and services. Exactly how these integrations could technically work needs more research and experimentation, but it’s clear to see where the benefits lie. 

So, how do we answer the question of who might be listening to your ChatGPT conversations? Well, with blockchain implementation, most likely no one!

Further Reading

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