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Don't Buy into the AI v. Web3 Narrative
Blockchain and AI were Born to Work Together
Today we’re bringing you a guest post by Corporate Trash, a full-time writer and producer working in web3.
CT left the ‘corporate trash’ world behind in 2021 after getting hooked on everyone’s fave NFT gateway drug, NBA Top Shot. Based in LA, she’s worked for a variety of web3 businesses, including Lucky Trader, Evaluate.Market, The First Mint, and Nifty’s.
She’s currently a part of the media team at PROOF, helping to produce ‘100 PROOF Live’ and ‘Daily NFT Countdown’ featuring fan-favorite NFTstatistics. Her weekly newsletter business x blockchain is a must read, serving up fresh perspectives on the latest in NFTs with a side of hot memes.
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One day, the question sneaks up on you, hitting you out of nowhere. As we scroll our Twitter timeline, most of us in web3 have had the same inconvenient thought:
“Should I pivot to AI?”
These days, more and more OpenSea and Blur tabs are giving way to ChatGPT and Midjourney sessions. Web3 newsletters are serving subscribers heaps of artificial intelligence stories in place of NFT news. And heads are turning toward an ocean of AI tools growing larger each day, each promising to boost productivity and save valuable time.
It doesn’t help that the NFT market is pretty damn boring right now. Unique buying wallets are the lowest we’ve seen in almost two years, and Blur farmers & influencer wars lead the headlines. With uncertainty in the US economy and in crypto regulation, interest in web3 and NFTs has become even more niche than it already was.
But some would argue that doubling down on those still here is the way to go.
Events like the massive Sotheby’s 3AC auction (with the $6.2 million Ringers sale) mean that people still highly value digital art.
Traditional brands like Louis Vuitton, Mercedes-Benz, Puma, Nike, and Adidas are all still investing in digital collectibles.
Yuga Labs continues to poach seasoned gaming executives for their NFT-based metaverse play, Otherside.
And you’re here reading this post about our beloved overpriced JPEGs right now, aren’t ya 😉
So if AI is dominating the timeline … yet web3, blockchain applications, and NFTs are still very much alive and kicking, I asked myself another question:
“Why not both?”
Surely, these giga-brained technologies have many ways to complement one another moving forward.
The Convergence of AI and NFTs
Some of the biggest AI artists - including Mario Klingemann (Botto), Claire Silver, and Pinder van Arman - were ahead of their time, using tools like Midjourney and Stable Diffusion to create their art.
In the near future, most of the processes for creating art and NFTs will utilize and/or be enhanced with some sort of AI.
The Good News: AI allows more digital art to be created, by more people, faster than ever before. More people can express their creativity and potentially monetize it in the form of NFTs.
The Bad News: AI allows more digital art to be created, by more people, faster than ever before. The over-saturation of art will make it more difficult for talented artists to stand out. Many of these works may also lack the emotion found in art done by humans – we’ve all seen the odd, other-worldly “AI look” achieved sometimes with intention. but most times not.
Digital art, of course, is only one use case for NFTs. We know they’re capable of so much more, from creating digital scarcity to authenticating ownership to carrying their own stash of NFTs. 🤯
And now, they can even hold AI models.
Fetch.ai offers a marketplace for people to sell AI services and algorithms in the form of an NFT. Meanwhile, Alethea AI’s CharacterGPT creates highly personalized content as digital twins, digital guides, virtual assistants, and digital companions (yes, we are living in the film Her). Like Fetch.ai, it also offers a marketplace for creators to sell their content as NFTs.
The power of AI enables a continuous content faucet, many of which are a good fit to be distributed as NFTs to prove their authenticity. But it’s up to us to filter through to find the highest quality content.
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Weaponizing the Web3 Workforce
There’s a strong case for AI in the web3 workforce too. Many companies in the space are startups on shoestring budgets with limited staffing and resources.
AI’s already proven itself to be a marketing marvel, helping writers and editors churn out copy at breakneck speed. On the back end it’s enabling faster development, allowing complex code to be written with strong prompt engineering skills. I see this giving startups a little more runway to keep building through the bear.
Giving web3 Games a Boost
Many say that gaming will be a huge catalyst for the next NFT bull market, but we all know that game development takes a long time. While the average cycle for PC and console games is 5 years, Diablo III took a shocking 11 years to complete.
Creating a multitude of in-game assets is now faster than ever using AI.
This is great news for web3 metaverse platforms like Otherside and The Sandbox Game - although AR/VR/XR accessibility and hardware will need to catch up to maximize the benefit.
We won’t see droves of people in the metaverse if we’ve got to walk around in $3,500 Vision Pro goggles or the clunky Quest 2 (I could actually go on a tangent here about whether the metaverse even needs to be blockchain-based, but I’ll leave that for another post).
Still, these immersive worlds will become even more engaging with advanced AI models powering the graphics, content, dialogue, and interactions with others.
For example, NVIDIA recently showed a demo of real-time dialogue during Computex 2023, where a computer character talked back using AI. And web3 metaverse platform OnCyber launched a feature called Magic Composer where players can design a room just by using ChatGPT prompts. Pretty cool stuff.
Digital Reality Check
The primary power of the blockchain is that it is trustless and decentralized. As AI enables more and more realistic deep fakes (I’m looking at you, Two Bit Bears), blockchain tech helps distinguish and verify what’s real and what’s not.
Decentralized media platforms like Mirror.xyz already use blockchain verification for written content, using a digital signature to ensure that the source is verified. In the future, AI agents could even be trained to identify other content as AI-generated. 😵💫
Zero-knowledge proofs (ZKP) also become increasingly important. ZKP can authenticate data while protecting the privacy of the content itself. For example, in a future where AI decides who gets jury duty (whew), ZKP will be able to verify that the model is from a reputable AI developer without revealing the entire algorithm behind the decision.
So while we may be plunging slightly deeper into a Black Mirror-esque society, blockchain tech can help give us a reality check.
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Supercharged Smart Contracts & DAOs
Historically, smart contracts were only as smart as the developer who created them. In the NFT community, we’ve witnessed millions get accidentally trapped in smart contracts, and have wasted tons of gwei on inefficient contracts leaving us with little more than sorrow and regret (cough my Stoner Cats POAP cough).
AI smart contracts should be able to optimize for efficiency, leverage real-time market data, and minimize gas spend. Combining AI with smart contracts may also be able to reduce human error and identify possible security risks.
On the other hand, scammers will surely use the same tech to increase the speed, intelligence, and number of scam attempts. Hopefully, the volume of helpful AI applications will outnumber whatever the adaptable scammers have in store.
Etherscan has already implemented an AI-powered beta feature called Code Developer, where anyone with an OpenAI API key can ask specific questions about any smart contract. This increases transparency and unlocks learning opportunities for developers looking to build their own dApps or smart contracts.
According to the CEO of AI firm LeewayHertz, Akash Takyar, DAO governance is another part of web3 that’s ripe for AI intervention. He says AI could help predict which proposals are the most relevant and could have the biggest positive impact on the community.
This new technology may even enable DAOs to respond to rapid environmental shifts in web3. Imagine that there’s an existing proposal to swap all treasury funds to USDC, and then USDC somehow unpegs again (knocks on wood it doesn’t ✊🏽). The DAO could use real-time data to automatically recognize the threat so members can take action.
“So, AI and web3 complement one another. Ok, that’s cool CT … but what about my bags?”
I’m sorry to say that AI itself isn’t going to save your bags. It won’t bring your hidden folder back from the dead. It won’t even bring “mass onboarding” to the NFT ecosystem overnight.
But it will enable faster development in web3, bring more eyes to the most interesting decentralized apps and strongest communities, and hopefully unlock additional use cases for the blockchain that we haven’t even thought of yet.
… Or, AI could become sentient, overthrow humanity, and then we’re all toast regardless.
I think I’ll stick around to find out what happens.
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