Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Sunday, August 19, 2018
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Blockchain Startups Seek to Speed AI Development 

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Among the approaches to ramping up AI innovation is applying blockchain technology as a new kind of marketplace to help open-source developers find AI building blocks that can be quickly implemented. In turn, the digital ledger technology can be used to compensate code jockeys who built the components.

Two blockchain startups announced a partnership this week to create a clearinghouse for open source AI development tools. The goal is to help unlock the potential of AI by making the technology accessible, affordable and easier to use.

SingularityNET, a startup developing a blockchain-based platform that would serve as a marketplace for AI services, said Thursday (Feb. 8) it is collaborating with FundRequest, which is building a collaborative platform for AI developers. FundRequest bills itself as more than just a project funding platform by providing a support layer designed to connect developers with open source projects.

The partners cast the collaborations as a "two-way street" in which SingularityNET delivers a large community of dispersed AI developers while FundRequest matches freelance developers to projects. The funding platform could, for example, apply AI tools like algorithms used to monitor developer performance and rate the quality of work.

Together, the partners said they want to leverage blockchain functionality to help promote open-source AI development. In one scenario, developers could upload requests for components like product features or bug fixes. A "monetary incentive" would be included to complete the task, allowing the customer to purchase and implement the fix. The premise is that the service would "help streamline procedures and vastly improve operational efficiency," the partners said.

Founded last year. SingularityNET, Zurich, Switzerland, has so far completed one "initial coin offering" to fund operations. FundRequest, which focuses on crowdsourcing to fund software development, also uses cryptocurrency token sales to fund its operations.

The Swiss startup said it would use the FundRequest platform to offer bug bounties and to compensate developers for their labor. The partnership would allow SingularityNET development team "to focus on the overall structure, while FundRequest’s platform will be used to source developers who can tackle miscellaneous bugs and issues that come up along the way," the startup noted. "It is much more economically efficient than hiring another department to focus on one-off problems."

At the same time, FundRequest will use the SingularityNET marketplace to develop new AI applications on it own blockchain platform. Along with bug bounties, potential AI tools include a monitoring system that could rate the reliability of individual developers. A proposed AI-based workflow manager could help mediate disputes between funders and developers.

Developers "can receive compensation for work while users [and] companies can provide incentives to these professionals to deal with requests important to their needs," the partners said.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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