Saturday, June 29, 2024

I don't buy the "crypto 🤝 AI" narrative

For the betterment of the consumer, may I be wrong and eat my words 🫡

There's an idea floating around crypto VC twitter that somehow blockchain is going to be a solution for A.I. generated deepfakes. Most recently, Union Square Ventures posted Deep Reals.

The basic argument goes something like this:

  • A.I. enables a high quantity and quality of doctored/fake/synthetic information to be produced
  • This is problematic because fraudulent content can be misattributed to individuals, outlets, or brands
  • The solution is cryptographically signing content and storing it on-chain
That last point makes no sense to me.

For example, I have 0 doubt that Fred Wilson wrote the blog post, Sign Everything
  • It's on his blog, which I know he controls. That's a "signature." 
  • It's further verifiable by looking at his Twitter account. That's another "signature."
  • There's a post about it on Hacker News. No one is disputing its origin.
  • The fact that he also published it on-chain is immaterial. 
    • I experience no difference in the blockchain version of the post.
    • the fact he isn't only publishing a blockchain version shows that it's immaterial to him too.
I also was never confused whether or not Kanye West actually covered Call Me Maybe (banger tho),Tupac came back from the dead to contribute to a Drake song, or the Pope wore a designer puffy coat.

Can I be fooled? Sure! I'm as susceptible as the next person and deepfakes are a problem that we should expect to get worse.

Luckily, we have decentralized mechanisms, non-blockchain technology, and culture already working on this problem. 

No blockchain necessary. 

Decentralized mechanisms for sussing out deep fakes

Redditors, Twitter users, and news organizations all do a good job of calling out when a piece of media is fake. Actors like these are are incentivized to perform this service and will continue to be.

Non-blockchain also technologies exist today and solve this problem more elegantly

These products are easier to use, make money, and ostensibly have more adoption compared to blockchain solutions. For example, FakespotGPTZero, and Hive Moderation.

I don't find it plausible that blockchain will offer some 10x better solution in the future.

This ^ is hand wavy of me. 

Nonetheless, doctored/fake/synthetic information has been an issue for some time. So you'd think there'd be some prominent examples of blockchain being used as a solution.

I am aware of none.

Lastly, there is the cultural solution of being skeptical of everything on the internet. 

Some age cohort has been raised to be skeptical of everything they see on the internet. 

As for the people who struggle with fakery and don't have that skepticism...well, i don't think blockchain is going to do anything to solve that.

So, there you have it. My rough draft take on why blockchain as a solution to AI deepfakes is dubious. I could be wrong and would love to hear why.