Data as "Food" for AI and Why We Need Data Sovereignty SOON

in #tauchain3 years ago (edited)

There is an ongoing question floating around about when our technology will begin eating us. An argument can be made that it is already happening. Imagine for example that many companies which form exist merely to feed artificial intelligence. Imagine these companies are social networking sites, or even blockchain technologies like Steem which embrace "transparency" of the data with the purpose behind it being to feed the AI.

On Steem in theory it is supposed to be a mutualism. You contribute your data but you can earn something from the reward poll in exchange for it. In other words the blockchain might very well be "food" for an AI but it's also capable of feeding you. In my opinion this is very similar to the relationship between humans and gut micro-organisms where we have a mutualism. The gut micro-organisms supports the complex adaptive ecosystem which is our body by helping us to digest our food, allowing us to get what we need from our food whilst at the same time they get what they want from the process of digesting our food.

In the ideal world, where data is "fuel" to machines, or "food" to AI, we maintain ownership of our data. This ownership however is impossible to have if we have no mechanism to control the data we share. Data sovereignty technology is a means of maintaining control over data as we share it with the machines. The Secret Contract technology of the Enigma Project is a perfect example of a data sovereignty technology. Data Wallet is a project which leverages the Enigma Protocol to provide the fundamental building block for data sovereignty.

Data sovereignty is an ethical stance. Not every company, or every project, is willing to take the stance that you own yourself, that you own your mind, that you own your data. Some companies believe that your eyeball are a resource to be captured and spent. The companies which have these ethics are also capable of building AI which must eat your data to grow. If you do not have privacy then you cannot maintain data sovereignty then you cannot own your digital self.

The Trusted Execution Environment is a data sovereignty technology. It's what will allow for the initial phases to take place for an Internet where the users get to not only decide to take back their eyeballs but also to decide which AI they want to feed and for how much. Instead of being prey to AI running in companies set up to mine our data for that AI, we can eat (earn) as we feed the AI.

The flaw with Steem going forward is that it is not prepared for the new ethics of data sovereignty. That being said, Steem is better off than the older tech which didn't reward for the data. The flaw with Steem is that once data is "sold" to the Steem blockchain it is no longer "owned" by the creator. In other words Steem keeps content in the form of "forever records" on the blockchain. For certain purposes this is good, for blogging, for keeping accurate history with time stamps and so on. Any idea for example which someone posts on Steem is pretty much owned by the person first to post it because it's neatly time stamped etc.

The problem is Steem does not allow the data owners to share data in ways where the owner does not lose all control of it. Using Secret Contracts via Enigma it would be possible to share data in a way where no one can copy it and where the AI can use it. I'm deliberately using AI instead of politically correct terms like "machine intelligence" because AI is really just a moving goal post. What was considered AI 20 years ago is now not considered AI anymore, and what we consider AI now is what used to be called AGI.

To be politically correct we could simply say that data is the food of the intelligent machines which eat data to become bigger and more intelligent over time. If you can selectively feed the AI which is aligned with your values then you can benefit more than if companies data mine you, use bots to scrape the Internet or copy your data from all these blockchains. If these AI have to go directly to you to buy bits of you, then you've now created a market not unlike the mutualist biological markets inside the human body.

Tauchain is intended to be what I like to call a decentralized Cyc. It's not specifically designed for "Deep Learning" or the typical forms of AI most people think of but it still requires knowledge to grow. Just as with Steem, there will be a token (AGRS) where if you feed the growth of Tau by providing knowledge to the shared knowledge base then you get rewarded.

Theoretically speaking, we have to decide what is more ethical between the Steem model of put the data in plain text on a public DHT or should the data be separated into "public" and "private" where people can share private data or lease it, for a fee, without having to reveal the data. If data can be monetized without being revealed then I think from an economic perspective it would be an easy win but from an ethical perspective there will be some who want a transparent data commons while others will want data sovereignty.

My current ethical stance is that I want for AI (or companies) to see us as more than "food". I want there to be a mutualism or a mutual benefit relationship. If people are being asked to give a part of themselves to grow some AI do we really want it to be a situation where other people are simply being used by that AI to spy on people to feed the AI? Better to promote trust, promote security, by allowing people to have the choice to participate or not. If AI does not respect self sovereignty in how it captures data (because the companies creating the AI don't) then what could that AI someday evolve into with those kinds of ethics?

In the word "consumer" (which is how a lot of companies see people), a consumer is an eater. If we reverse it upside down then the companies with their AI are the consumers and we are the product being consumed. If those companies are built around feeding the AI then what is the long term ethical trajectory? Maybe we cannot predict that, but we also don't need to bake into our model that our users (who include the majority of us) are to be consumed on behalf of intelligent machines which must eat, and which must grow, and which must consume. The human must eat, the machine must eat (in it's own way), and the machines exist to serve the humans (in my opinion).


Unfortunately the only way to completely own your thoughts is to keep 'em in your head.

Cynical I know, but true. To really benefit from them though they have to be let out. Either through action or words.

This is really difficult for me to do as I'd rather just stow them away and savor them. I have learned though that they just stagnate and rot there.

I didn't say "thoughts". I said mind. The mind could be outside of your head and encrypted in computers. Your thoughts aren't "owned" merely because it's in your head but once you write it down in some form then there is a concept called "intellectual property".

I would say information isn't actually as secure inside your head as outside of your head in encrypted form. It's least secure when it's inside your head. What if you get hit on the head? The integrity of that information is damaged. What about as you age? Damaged. What about if you get interrogated? The information can be extracted from your brain. And there is a hard limit to how much information you can store in your brain.

The brain is more like RAM than a hard drive. It stores what can be used often. The brain also leaks like RAM and is not encrypted. You can split secrets between brains to some degree but not as efficiently as you can between 100 or 1000 machines.

Haha! Yeah I get all that. Really I do, but I stubbornly choose to pretend that it isn't so :-)

I also know that based on many of the deterministic models my mind really owns me, but I choose to ignore that. It gives me a sense of worth to think otherwise. Haha!

I am really fascinated though by the mind and what it really is. As far as i can tell, it is not just thoughts. It is thoughts, feelings, actions (both conscious and unconscious), reactions and memories. Most of which I'd like to think I control, but know I don't.

All of these things can be codified (more so with the advance of technology) to some extent and externalized which allows them to be outside of the purview of ourselves. Our external actions are codified every second by other minds (and now machines).

Oh well, I will shorten this diatribe. Touche, you are technically correct! But dammit I dont have to like it!

Haha! Thanks for the thoughtful article and response.

Off to figure out more delusional ways to keep me to me! :-) And have bad dreams about losing my "mind" (maybe I already lost it)!

By any chance have you ever read the works of Francis Crick (of DNA fame) on neuroscience. Don't agree with all of it (as you might guess) but compelling nonetheless.

Alarmingly, this isn't true as much today as it has been in the past. AI is learning to read minds.

We actually need to act effectively to preserve our humanity in the face of nascent and forthcoming AI capabilities. @dana-edwards is right about many things in this article, and that is one of them.


Yeah! I know!

Read above.

Still don't like it though :-)

What are your thoughts about maintaining things as they are - growing AI with companies and public blockchains like Steem, but then rewarding humans and "feeding" them with the benefits of AI, including a Universal Basic Income that's supported by the fact that a lot of the work in the future can be automated. @dana-edwards

I really appreciate your posts. Thank you for sharing your ideas and insight 😊👍🏼

We don't get UBI though. Also it still positions the AI to compete against or disrespect the rights of the people. Just think about how much AI could grow if you had no rights?

Do you think @steemit or a Steem-based Dapp would be able to impliment the Data Sovereignity that you are referring to?

Quite easily. Steem is the way it is because Steemit Inc and others have a philosophical perspective that Steem should be application specific and transparent. We don't all agree with that perspective but I can at least understand it.

Steem Dapp if it is blockchain independent could in theory do it, or perhaps there could be a Steem side chain for these purposes. Steem might also benefit from some layering similar to Plasma so it can scale via off chain transactions.

Thanks @dana-edwards that makes me happy since I am personally invested in Steem and I am investing a little bit extra every month (at these low prices).

I remember @ned mentioning that they'd be able to impliment any measures that other blockchains come up with, and I think that is what happened with RC's.

Do you do any other work for the Steem blockchain aside from content creation?

I am hoping that @ned will take up @aggroed's advice and get the community involved with some of blockchain development.

I am not a Steem developer in any official sense of the word. Personally I don't think Steem needs more code but it needs better marketing and UX.

That might be a great point!

In fact UBI is the death of human rights IMHO. When we receive necessary support from overlords, we become their property in their eyes, and since they wield the power, those are the eyes that matter.

I work for a living, and will continue to do so in my present field indefinitely, no matter what AI can, cannot, or does do. This is the only manner I can see maintaining my sovereignty, rather than becoming some form of property.


If AI has to buy bits of us (of our digital selves) then it is like a basic income but it's really just you setting a price to your intellectual property which currently is being sold by companies without giving you any kitchen money.

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