The advent of blockchain technology has led to a groundbreaking transformation across various industries, particularly the financial sector, through its unparalleled level of transparency and capacity for scalability. A research and analytics firm Markets and Markets estimates that the global blockchain market size will hit $94 billion by 2027.
Despite the significant advances, industry experts contend that there exists the potential for further optimization. Some propose that artificial intelligence (AI) could be instrumental in driving progress in this arena.
AI and blockchain are two rapidly-evolving technologies that complement each other, the chief operating officer at SingularityNET, Janet Adams, told exclusively to crypto.news. The programming languages underlying current blockchains such as “Ethereum (ETH) and Cardano (ADA)” already “contain some intelligence,” and by integrating these technologies, smart contracts could be enhanced with AI processes, she claimed.
This makes it possible to execute even more complex tasks like “governance for DAOs and automated DeFi optimization,” Adams added.
“Decentralized access to AI made possible by blockchain technology makes it easier for individuals and communities to leverage AI to address real-world problems. This levels the playing field for everyone to benefit from this amazing technology.”
Janet Adams, the COO of SingularityNET
Similar to the surge in mainstream adoption of blockchain, the field of AI has also witnessed rapid growth in popularity as its potential becomes more widely accepted. The convergence of AI and blockchain technology presents a compelling opportunity to enhance the decentralized finance (DeFi) sector beyond its current capabilities.
Jesus Rodriguez, CEO of IntoTheBlock, highlighted the ever-evolving nature of the DeFi scene two years back, forecasting an imminent transition to the “Intelligent DeFi” era as AI gradually creeps into the sector.
Application of AI in DeFi
AI works with unprecedented access to big data and can assist DeFi and blockchain by providing advanced data analysis and pattern recognition capabilities that could improve risk management, enhance security, optimize trading strategies, and automate various processes.
For example, the director of Coinbase exchange, Conor Grogan, tested the latest version of the popular AI tool, GPT-4, to find the flaw in an Ethereum smart contract. According to his tweet, the chatbot could instantly highlight “a number of security vulnerabilities and pointed out surface areas where the contract could be exploited.”
Per Grogan, GPT-4 could even suggest a “specific” method to hack the smart contract.
Another Twitter user, however, with the handle TwoBags, stated the contract that Grogan has tested was already exploited in 2018б and this result “might not be so accurate.”
The Twitter user added that the right way to test the chatbot is to “give it a smart contract that it’s never seen before, or has never had the exploit shared publicly before.”
Some DeFi protocols are already leveraging a measure of AI technology to automate certain tasks and improve service delivery to their clients. These include platforms such as DeFiLabs, Chainalysis and Fetch.ai.
“AI can also make financial transactions faster, more efficient and more secure than ever before. It also opens up exciting new opportunities in microtransactions and real-time fraud detection. The ability of AI to process vast amounts of data and identify subtle patterns is creating a safer DeFi space for everyone.”
Janet Adams, the COO of SingularityNET
The consensus is that artificial intelligence can be an essential element in advancing DeFi protocols, introducing valuable features to the scene. The following are some of the critical applications of AI that can boost the capabilities of DeFi protocols.
Decentralized credit scoring
AI can be a powerful tool for DeFi credit scoring as it can help automate and improve the accuracy of credit assessments. AI algorithms can analyze vast amounts of data to identify patterns and make predictions, allowing lenders to make more informed decisions about whether to approve or deny credit applications.
Decentralized credit scoring is fast gaining momentum as it seeks to displace traditional credit rating measures. RociFi raised $2.7 million in April 2022 to offer its DeFi credit-scoring product. As this sector of DeFi sees a gradual uptick in adoption, the integration of AI can significantly enhance its capabilities.
One way AI can help in DeFi credit scoring is by using machine learning models to analyze data on a borrower’s financial history, credit score, and other factors that could impact their creditworthiness.
These models can identify, according to an analytics and data science platform Datrics, correlations and patterns that might be missed by human analysts, allowing lenders to more accurately assess credit risk and offer more favorable rates to low-risk borrowers.
The adoption rate of AI in DeFi credit scoring is still relatively low, as the technology is still in its early stages. However, there are several platforms already using AI to improve their credit scoring processes.
For instance, CreDA, a DeFi platform specializing in decentralized credit scoring, launched in November 2021 to leverage AI-powered algorithms in assessing a user’s creditworthiness.
Fraud is a significant concern in the DeFi ecosystem, and fraud detection is critical to ensure the safety and security of investments. A Chainalysis report from last year disclosed that a record $14 billion was lost to crypto scams in 2021.
As this figure continues to rise due to the deployment of more sophisticated scam tools, AI algorithms can be used to analyze blockchain data to detect fraudulent activities such as fake identities, phishing scams, and market manipulation.
According to Adams, the combination of blockchain and AI has the potential to make data storage more secure and “prevent or catch blockchain fraud and cyber attacks.”
“By integrating AI, smart contracts can learn and adapt to different situations, making them more efficient and effective.”
Janet Adams, the COO of SingularityNET
AI algorithms can analyze blockchain data to detect patterns and anomalies that may indicate fraudulent activities. Machine learning algorithms can be trained to recognize patterns of defrauding behavior, such as high-frequency trading or suspicious transactions, by analyzing large amounts of data.
The COO of SingularityNET believes that since blockchain technology makes it possible to record transactions permanently and transparently, AI can be utilized to analyze this data for insights that “can improve decision-making.” However, she added, privacy concerns should also be considered.
Platforms such as Chainalysis have deployed AI in detecting fraud in DeFi. Chainalysis is a blockchain analysis platform that uses AI to detect and prevent fraud in cryptocurrency transactions. The platform is currently used by law enforcement agencies, financial institutions, and cryptocurrency businesses to identify suspicious activity and mitigate risk.
In the DeFi scene, risk assessment is crucial to ensure prudent investment decisions. Market trends and economic indicators play a vital role in risk assessment, and AI algorithms can be used to analyze this data to provide more accurate risk assessments.
Rodriguez, in a 2021 study, highlighted the importance of data analysis in quantifying risks associated with DeFi protocols. Having ample access to data analytics tools, AI has the potential to handle risk assessment accurately.
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AI algorithms can analyze market trends to identify potential risks associated with market volatility or economic instability. For instance, if the algorithm detects a sudden increase in the volume of transactions on a DeFi protocol, it may indicate market manipulation or a sudden change in market sentiment, the CEO of IntoTheBlock believes. This could be a potential risk for investors, and the algorithm can alert them to take action accordingly.
AI can improve decentralized decision-making by analyzing data faster than humans and making more accurate predictions, Adams stated.
Moreover, AI-powered risk assessment models can analyze economic indicators, such as inflation rates and GDP growth, to assess the overall health of the economy and its potential impact on the decentralized ecosystem.
Challenges in implementing AI in DeFi
Implementing AI in blockchain and DeFi presents several challenges that need to be addressed to ensure this technology’s effective and ethical use. Three areas of challenges are legal and regulatory, technical, and ethical.
Legal and regulatory challenges
These challenges are one of the main obstacles to the implementation of AI in DeFi. Compliance with data privacy regulations such as GDPR and regulatory requirements for AI algorithms is crucial.
For example, AI algorithms used for risk assessment and fraud detection must comply with anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) regulations. Failure to comply with these regulations can lead to legal and financial penalties.
Global regulatory arbitrage also presents a challenge in this regard, as varying jurisdictions have contrasting regulations for DeFi. This is due to the nascence of the cryptocurrency scene.
Technical challenges also pose a significant challenge to the implementation of AI in blockchain technology. One of the primary challenges is the need for interoperability between different networks.
AI is a “crucial component in the progress of critical areas” of blockchain and DeFi, Adams said. However, as with any technology, there are important challenges that must be addressed, such as interoperability, she added.
Adams added that one of the projects that she’s working on, called HyperCycle, is trying to “promote interoperability between chains and enable microtransactions” that “will create new opportunities and resilience in networks, giving equal access to all.”
DeFi operates on several blockchains, and interoperability is necessary to facilitate seamless transactions between these different networks with varying protocols and designs. The integration of AI requires a decent level of interoperability between these chains.
Ethical challenges are another area of concern in the implementation of AI in blockchain technology and DeFi. Ensuring that AI algorithms are transparent and unbiased is essential.
Privacy is another major concern, Adams said, with AI tools collecting and analyzing vast portions of user data.
“The inherent privacy of the blockchain and its use for the decentralization of project governance raise fresh challenges in how to attribute value, reward contributions, and recognize participation.”
Janet Adams, the COO of SingularityNET
Transparency ensures that the algorithm’s decision-making process is explainable, which can help build trust among users. Unbiased algorithms ensure that the algorithm does not discriminate against certain users or groups of users. Addressing data privacy concerns is also a critical ethical challenge in the implementation of AI and blockchain technology in DeFi.
Case studies of AI in DeFi
Despite the challenges associated with the deployment of artificial intelligence in blockchain and DeFi, several AI-powered projects have sprung up in the DeFi and blockchain sectors in recent years.
SingularityNET (AGI) is a project that combines artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies to create a decentralized marketplace for AI services.
Developed by the team behind Sophia, the first AI humanoid robot, the platform’s main objective is to bridge the gap between researchers and businesses engaged in AI development. It focuses initially on cybersecurity, cloud robotics, and biomedical research, helping developers and companies create and finance AI projects and sell tools, data, services, and algorithms.
The platform utilizes smart contracts to facilitate transactions and can support organizations requiring customized AI solutions or those that need bigger datasets for creating powerful AI solutions.
“At SingularityNET, we are striving to push the boundaries of AI development and targeting to achieve AGI within the next five years. This has the potential to be truly game-changing for our future in numerous ways. AGI is the next stage in the evolution of AI, surpassing specialized AI that can perform specific tasks to an AI that can perform a wide range of tasks, like a human being,” Janet Adams, the COO of SingularityNET, believes.
This means that AGI will be able to interact with humans in more natural and intuitive ways, grasp context and nuance, and make decisions in complex and unpredictable situations, the COO claimed.
She also pointed out the firm’s “spin-off” project, SingularityDAO, which is utilized to dynamically rebalance and optimize sets of tokens through trustless smart contracts.
Fetch.ai is an open-source blockchain platform that uses AI to power its DeFi platform by enabling autonomous agents to interact with each other and make decisions based on data analysis and machine learning.
These agents can perform a variety of tasks, including data collection, price prediction, and market analysis, all without the need for human intervention. By leveraging AI, Fetch.ai aims to create a more efficient and secure DeFi platform.
VeChain is a blockchain platform that aims to enhance supply chain management and other enterprise-level applications by leveraging the benefits of blockchain technology. VeChain also integrates AI technology into its platform.
In DeFi, VeChain uses AI to enable secure financial transactions. One of the key ways it does this is by using AI to analyze data from various sources, such as market trends, customer behavior, and financial performance.
What will AI look like in 10 years?
Although many institutions have implemented artificial intelligence in the past few years to improve their DeFi offerings, the technology remains largely untapped in the decentralized industry.
“I see a future where AI is not just a tool that we use but a companion that enhances and elevates our abilities in ways beyond our imagination.”
Janet Adams, the COO of SingularityNET
According to a Forbes report, Mordor Intelligence estimates that the global fintech AI market is projected to hit $22.6 billion in valuation by 2025. Moreover, a Deloitte survey revealed that up to 70% of finance companies were already utilizing AI to boost their offerings as of October 2020.
However, the rapid and widespread adoption of AI suggests a promising future for its implementation in the decentralized finance industry. Additionally, the emergence and popularity of AI protocols, such as ChatGPT and Bard, have brought the technology to the forefront of mainstream attention.
Artificial intelligence has the potential to enhance the development of highly advanced trading algorithms in DeFi. With the ability to learn from historical data and adapt behavior accordingly, AI-based algorithms could result in more precise predictions and ultimately lead to improved performance. Another potential application of AI in the DeFi space is to enhance platform security.
The potential of blockchain technology for AI development stems from its ability to enable secure and decentralized data storage while also facilitating transparent and secure transactions. When combined, AI and blockchain could provide an immutable and transparent ledger that is both secure and efficient while also being decentralized.
In addition to blockchain technology and DeFi, Adams believes that advanced AI will power “self-driving cars, virtual assistants, and smart homes, making our lives simpler and more efficient.”
Nonetheless, there remains a growing apprehension among industry leaders regarding the potential challenges that AI could pose. Mira Murati, the chief technology officer of OpenAI, the organization behind ChatGPT, acknowledged the need for the proper regulation of AI to avoid such issues in the future.
“It’s important for OpenAI and companies like ours to bring this into the public consciousness in a way that’s controlled and responsible. But we’re a small group of people, and we need a ton more input in this system and a lot more input that goes beyond the technologies-—definitely regulators and governments and everyone else,” Murati explained.