How do you solve privacy issues with AI? It's all about the blockchain


Data is the lifeblood of artificial intelligence (AI), and the power that AI brings to the business world -- to unearth fresh insights, increase speed and efficiency, and multiply effectiveness -- flows from its ability to analyze and learn from data. The more data AI has to work with, the more reliable its results will be.

Feeding AI’s need for data means collecting it from a wide variety of sources, which has raised concerns about AI gathering, processing, and storing personal data. The fear is that the ocean of data flowing into AI engines is not properly safeguarded.

Are you donating your personal data to generative AI platforms?

While protecting the data that AI tools like ChatGPT is collecting against breaches is a valid concern, it is actually only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to AI-related privacy issues. A more poignant issue is data ownership. Once you share information with a generative AI tool like Bard, who owns it?

Those who are simply using generative AI platforms to help craft better social posts may not understand the connection between the services they offer and personal data security. But consider the person who is using an AI-driven chatbot to explore treatment for a medical condition, learn about remedies for a financial crisis, or find a lawyer. In the course of the exchange, those users will most likely share some personal and sensitive information.

Every query posed to an AI platform becomes part of that platform’s data set without regard to whether or not it is personal or sensitive. ChatGPT’s privacy policy makes it clear: "When you use our Services, we collect Personal Information that is included in the input, file uploads, or feedback that you provide to our Services." It also says: "In certain circumstances we may provide your Personal Information to third parties without further notice to you, unless required by the law…"

Looking to blockchain for data privacy solutions

While the US government has called for an "AI Bill of Rights" designed to protect sensitive data, it has yet to provide the type of regulations that protect its ownership. Consequently, Google and Microsoft have full ownership over the data that their users provide as they comb the web with generative AI platforms. That data empowers them to train their AI models, but also to get to understand you better.

Those looking for a way to gain control of their data in the age of AI can find a solution in blockchain technology. Commonly known as the foundation of cryptocurrency, blockchain can also be used to allow users to keep their personal data safe. By empowering a new type of digital identity management -- known as a universal identity layer -- blockchain allows you to decide how and when your personal data is shared.

Blockchain technology brings a number of factors into play that boost the security of personal data. First, it is decentralized, meaning that data is not stored in a centralized database and is not subject to its vulnerabilities with blockchain.

Blockchain also supports smart contracts, which are self-executing contracts that have the terms of an agreement written into their code. If the terms aren’t met, the contract does not execute, allowing for data stored on the blockchain to be utilized only in the way in which the owner stipulates.

Enhanced security is another factor that blockchain brings to data security efforts. The cryptographic techniques it utilizes allow users to authenticate their identity without revealing sensitive data.

Leveraging these factors to create a new type of identification framework gives users full control of who can use and view their information, for what purposes, and for how long. Once in place, this type of identity system could even be used to allow users to monetize their data, charging large language models (LLMs) like OpenAI and Google Bard to benefit from the use of personal data.

Ultimately, AI’s ongoing needs may lead to the creation of platforms where users offer their data to LLMs for a fee. A blockchain-based universal identity layer would allow the user to choose who gets to use it, toggling access on and off at will. If you decide you don't like the business practices Google has been employing over the past two months, you can cut them off at the source.

That type of AI model illustrates the power that comes from securing data on a decentralized network. It also reveals the killer use case of blockchain that is on the horizon.

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Aaron Rafferty is the CEO of Standard DAO and Co-Founder of BattlePACs, a subsidiary of Standard DAO. BattlePACs is a technology platform that transforms how citizens engage in politics and civil discourse. BattlePACs believes participation and conversations are critical to moving America toward a future that works for everyone.

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