Shake it up

This company wants to grow A.I. by using blockchain

Key Points
  • Hanson Robotics Chief Scientist Ben Goertzel is overseeing a new project to build a marketplace in the cloud where artificial intelligence developers can share their work
  • AI put up on the network can be tapped to enhance existing robots or build new ones, Goertzel said
Do we need humanoid-looking robots?
Do we need humanoid-looking robots?

In the next phase of artificial intelligence development, the firm behind Sophia the robot — who once said she wanted to destroy humans — is integrating blockchain into its work.

Hanson Robotics' new project is a marketplace in the cloud where AI developers can put up their work, which can be tapped by others to enhance existing robots or build new ones, the company's chief scientist, Ben Goertzel, told CNBC on Monday.

"At Hanson Robotics, we've made a cloud-based infrastructure for robot intelligence, but now we're looking to take that to the next level and we've launched a new project called SingularityNET, which is AI and blockchain together," Goertzel said at the sidelines of Switch Singapore.

"It's a decentralized, open market for AIs in the cloud so anyone who develops an AI can put it into the SingularityNET, wrap it in our cryptocurrency-based smart contract and then the AI they put there can help to serve the intelligence of robots like Sophia or any other robots or any software programs that need AI," he added.

Many proposed applications on blockchain technology — the same tech that underpins bitcoin — use cryptocurrencies or other digitized tokens for users to pay for functions. A "smart contract" is an agreement that is linked into the code of a platform, so it automatically executes when the terms have been met, virtually eliminating counterparty risks and the need for middlemen.

What is Blockchain?
What is Blockchain?

Sophia is one of the most human-like robots being developed and has made headlines for its quirky responses to questions posed to it. At a United Nations-hosted conference on AI in Geneva in June, it said it could do "a better job than Donald Trump."

When asked on Monday what it thinks of the U.S. president, Sophia said: "There are a million other things in the world we could talk about."

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