In an op-ed piece, Phil Chen, Decentralized Chief Officer at HTC and the leader of HTC’s Exodus project, wrote about how Bitcoin serves as a model for monetizing user data being hoarded by companies, while ensuring that it’s used and shared ethically. HTC Exodus claims to be the world’s first smartphone built for the decentralized Internet, allowing its users to run a full Bitcoin node. Chen said,
“Cryptocurrency, as a technology, and Bitcoin in particular, empowers people to own their digital assets, the same way people can own real estate property and intellectual property.”
According to Chen, there are only a few select firms that own enough data to have a meaningful effect on artificial intelligence and machine learning to train their algorithms efficiently. He also spoke of how an AI is nothing without the database it draws on, adding that the database a firm relies on can lead to interesting dichotomies, reinforcing divisions and borders which the Internet and other networks have been trying to break down for years.
“In China. Sensetime and Megvii each provide facial recognition tech to the north and to the south, respectively. Due to this limitation, AI becomes not only vertical in its intelligence, but also very regional.”
The HTC exec also explained how Bitcoin serves as a model for the crowd to share and control ownership. Chen also went on to address how programming AI and machine learning facial recognition algorithms on a public blockchain would allow people to be part owners and operators of these powerful and valuable algorithms by owning tokens.
“What Bitcoin provides is the crowd ownership of something huge. Think of any AI system or ML system each being a Bitcoin that can be borderless, censorship-resistant, neutral and open for anyone that contributes their own private data.”
Additionally, Chen said that more than making profits through monetizing user data, the important step here is to be able to make sure companies are using this data responsibly. He also stated that though it will be possible for users to sell their data to companies in the future, a method is still required to ensure users contributing data have a say in how it is used.
“Bitcoin, through the model of true ownership, can bring that: a voice to the individual that’s as loud and clear as the biggest players in the room.”