We’ve come a long way since most people questioned “what is artificial intelligence?” only a few years ago. While the rise of artificial Intelligence has raised many concerns ranging from ethics to plagiarism, AI is also becoming a valid area of study in many higher education institutions.
The fact is AI is changing every industry and will impact society in ways we are just beginning to understand. It is a technology that is transforming every walk of life, enabling people to rethink how we integrate information, analyze data and use the resulting insights to improve decision-making.
The increasing penetration of AI and autonomous devices into many aspects of life is altering basic operations and decision-making within organizations, improving efficiency and response times.
AI has entered the business world and it is already the main driver of emerging technologies like big data, robotics and the Internet of Things.
Artificial intelligence utilizes computers, data and occasionally machines to imitate the problem-solving and decision-making abilities of the human mind. It also includes the sub-domains of machine learning and deep learning, where AI algorithms are trained on data to make predictions or classifications and to improve their capabilities over time. AI offers advantages such as the automation of repetitive tasks, enhanced decision-making and an enhanced customer experience.
AI is making it easier to search, locate and understand critical information quickly, and it is finding innovative ways to utilize artificial intelligence in the workplace. The benefits of AI extend to research and development, enabling researchers to better understand everything from the cosmos to the human body. AI is not just a technology but a transformative technology that is powerful enough to bring us into a new, qualitatively different future.
AI programs are a prominent field of study in many post-secondary institutions worldwide. Many universities, including University Canada West, offer courses in AI, machine learning and related fields. Given the rapid advancements in AI technology and its increasing importance in various industries, the demand for AI education and research continues to grow. Another field of study is blockchain, which is increasingly paired with AI to carry out many functions.
What is blockchain?
Blockchain is a decentralized, distributed ledger technology that allows data to be stored globally on thousands of servers while letting anyone on the network see everyone else’s entries in real time. This creates a highly secure and transparent record of transactions, making it very difficult for one person to gain control of the network.
In essence, think of blockchain like a stack of Lego blocks. Each block contains a list of transactions, when a new transaction occurs it gets added to a block, and once the block is full, it is added to the chain in a linear, chronological order. Each block is linked to the previous one through a cryptographic hash function, creating a secure and immutable record of all the transactions that have ever occurred on that blockchain. Just like a Lego tower, you can’t remove a piece without the remaining pieces of the tower added after that one collapsing. If you were to remove a block in the blockchain, anything added after that could not exist on its own.
Blockchain technology has gained significant attention due to its applications in various fields beyond cryptocurrency, such as supply chain management, healthcare, finance and more. Its decentralized and secure nature makes it appealing for applications where transparency, security and trust are essential.
How do AI and blockchain work together?
Blockchain and AI are two of the most transformative technologies of our time and they can be combined to produce intelligent automated decision-making systems that provide highly reliable outputs that trigger a wide range of actions.
Here are some ways in which AI and blockchain can complement each other:
Blockchain’s digital record offers insight into the framework behind AI and the provenance of the data it is using, addressing the challenge of explainable AI. This helps improve trust in data integrity and, by extension, in the recommendations that AI provides.
Using blockchain to store and distribute AI models provides an audit trail, and pairing blockchain and AI can enhance data security.
Combining blockchain and AI can improve operational efficiency, information accuracy and data security. AI can rapidly and comprehensively read, understand and correlate data at incredible speed, bringing a new level of intelligence to blockchain-based business networks. By providing access to large volumes of data from within and outside of the organization, blockchain helps AI scale to provide more actionable insights, manage data usage and model sharing and create a trustworthy and transparent data economy.
AI, automation and blockchain can bring new value to business processes that span multiple parties — removing friction, adding speed and increasing efficiency. For example, AI models embedded in smart contracts executed on a blockchain can recommend expired products to recall, execute transactions — such as re-orders, payments or stock purchases based on set thresholds and events — resolve disputes, and select the most sustainable shipping method.
When you merge artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies, decentralized AI apps and algorithms are built with access to an identical vision of a trusted and shared data platform for storing your knowledge, records and decisions. This platform is useful when you keep reliable records of all the AI algorithms before, during and after the learning and decision-making process.
Improved data collection
AI models traditionally have had a data collection problem, whereby they have to connect to distinct datasets from different parties. Blockchain can help solve this problem by providing a secure and transparent database to store information, while AI can model problem-solving capabilities of the human mind. When used together, blockchain can improve the trustworthiness of data resources that AI models pull from and increase the speed of AI operations by connecting models to automated smart contracts.
The intersection of AI and blockchain can impact different industries and provide a dynamic way to derive privacy, energy, control data regulation, security and scalability.
The potential for transforming various sectors by combining AI and blockchains is tremendous, and we may see improved healthcare recommendations, optimized food traceability in the supply chain and up-to-date market predictions for real estate or stocks.
Learn more at UCW
Artificial intelligence is studied in many courses at UCW. For example, as part of UCW’s esteemed MBA program, there is a specific course on Machine Learning Tools and Techniques (BUSI 651). Students will explore the world and models of machine learning and learn how to use best practices with data to help the learning algorithm find patterns to map the target attributes.
UCW also offers two micro-credentials on blockchain:
- The Blockchain Project Management Micro-Credential focuses on preparing students to understand blockchain, project management and how to apply the principles of project management to blockchain and cryptocurrency projects.
- The Mastering Blockchain, Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Certificate Accelerated Program provides students with knowledge, strategies, tools and skills related to using blockchain, Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in the workplace.