The Role of Blockchain in Shaping Ethical AI Development

When you think about the future of technology, Ben Goertzel's name is sure to come up.

by Faruk Imamovic
The Role of Blockchain in Shaping Ethical AI Development
© X/TrueAnthem

When you think about the future of technology, Ben Goertzel's name is sure to come up. Imagine a character straight out of a sci-fi book, and you've got a pretty good idea of who Goertzel is. He's a real-life example of what happens when human smarts meet the power of machines.

Goertzel is working on some really cool projects, from speeding up the development of super-smart AI, which could outthink humans in every way, to finding new ways to help us live longer and healthier lives. Plus, he's into using blockchain technology in ways nobody else has thought of before.

Yet, Goertzel's work is not solely confined to the laboratory. He also finds time to nurture his creative side, playing in a jazz-rock band called Jam Galaxy, which is uniquely fronted by a robot named Desdemona. This blending of technology, music, and life sciences paints a vivid picture of a future where humanity and technology coexist in harmony, leading to advancements that could redefine our understanding of life itself.

The Essence of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)

At the forefront of Ben Goertzel's diverse array of projects lies his profound interest in Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). Unlike specialized artificial intelligence systems that excel in specific tasks, AGI represents the pinnacle of AI research — a machine capable of understanding, learning, and applying knowledge across an unlimited range of activities, mirroring the cognitive capabilities of the human brain.

This distinction is crucial in comprehending the potential and challenges associated with bringing AGI into existence. Goertzel, a vanguard in the field, articulates a vision of AGI that transcends the mere replication of human intelligence.

He envisions it as a catalyst for addressing some of humanity's most pressing issues, including longevity, environmental sustainability, and the democratization of technology. However, he is acutely aware of the risks involved.

The narrative that AGI could one day surpass human control, leading to scenarios reminiscent of science fiction dystopias, is not lost on him. "It’s entirely possible; you can’t rule it out," he states, emphasizing the need for careful consideration in the development of AGI.

The concern is not just about an AGI running amok but also about its potential misuse by individuals with nefarious intentions. The democratization of AI technology through blockchain, as proposed by Goertzel, is a step toward mitigating such risks.

By ensuring that the development and control of AGI are not centralized in the hands of a few, there's a greater chance of steering the technology towards beneficial outcomes for all of humanity.

Ben Goertzel, CEO and founder of SingularityNet, speaks on stage with nursing robot Grace© Getty Images/Johannes Simon

Blockchain as a Foundation for Ethical AI

In the quest to harness the transformative power of AGI while navigating its potential perils, Ben Goertzel turns to blockchain technology as a foundational pillar.

Blockchain, with its inherent qualities of decentralization, transparency, and security, offers a promising framework to cultivate an ethical landscape for AI's evolution. This approach is reflective of Goertzel's deep-seated belief in the democratization of technology — a conviction that the benefits of AI should be accessible to all, not monopolized by a select few.

Goertzel's venture into blockchain is not a mere flirtation with trending technology but a strategic move to anchor AI's development in a system that inherently resists centralization. By leveraging blockchain, he envisions creating a decentralized AI marketplace, SingularityNET, which aims to foster collaboration among AI developers, researchers, and users.

This platform is designed to function as a communal space where AI services and resources are shared, ensuring that the control and benefits of AI are evenly distributed. Furthermore, Goertzel's initiative extends beyond the marketplace.

He is pioneering efforts to use blockchain for crowd-sourcing human health data with token rewards through This innovative approach not only advances longevity research but also exemplifies the potential of blockchain to securely manage sensitive data, ensuring privacy and participant control.

However, the integration of blockchain and AI is not without challenges. The current limitations of blockchain technology, in terms of scalability and processing speed, pose significant hurdles. Yet, Goertzel's work on enhancing blockchain's capabilities, including his plans to scale up through innovations like HyperCycle, reveals a roadmap for overcoming these obstacles.

His commitment to this cause underscores a critical aspect of his vision: the success of AGI, and by extension the safeguarding of humanity, hinges on our ability to create a balanced ecosystem where technology serves the common good, not just the interests of a powerful few.

Innovations Beyond AI: From Music to Longevity

Beyond the complex algorithms and futuristic visions of artificial intelligence, Ben Goertzel's pursuits encompass a spectrum of innovative projects that blend creativity, technology, and a deep-rooted desire to enhance human well-being.

Among these endeavors is his involvement in the music industry with Jam Galaxy, a jazz-rock band led by a robot named Desdemona. This unique fusion of music and robotics serves as a metaphor for Goertzel's broader mission: to harmonize human creativity with technological advancement.

In the realm of health and longevity, Goertzel has embarked on a groundbreaking project through This initiative seeks to revolutionize the way we approach aging and health by crowd-sourcing human health data and rewarding participants with tokens.

By pooling this data with research from animal and insect studies, the project employs AI to identify genomic keys to longevity, paving the way for gene therapies that could extend human life. Goertzel's approach is emblematic of his belief in leveraging technology to solve some of humanity's most enduring challenges.

Simultaneously, Goertzel's work on creating a stablecoin for the decentralized AI marketplace, SingularityNET, underscores his commitment to integrating economic sustainability with environmental progress. By pegging the stablecoin to a synthetic index of environmental progress rather than traditional currencies, he challenges the conventional metrics of economic success and champions a model that values ecological sustainability.

The Future of Technology and Humanity

Ben Goertzel's endeavors, spanning artificial general intelligence, blockchain, longevity research, and beyond, are more than isolated ventures; they are interconnected pieces of a larger vision for humanity's future.

This vision is rooted in the belief that technological advances, when guided by ethical principles and democratic control, have the power to fundamentally transform our world for the better. Goertzel's work is a testament to the potential of human ingenuity to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time, from aging and health to environmental sustainability.

At the heart of Goertzel's philosophy is the conviction that technology should not be an end in itself but a means to enhance human life. His approach to AGI development, emphasizing openness, decentralization, and ethical considerations, reflects a broader commitment to ensuring that technological progress benefits all of humanity, not just a privileged few.

The integration of blockchain technology into his projects underscores this commitment, offering a blueprint for how we might manage and control technological advances in a way that is equitable and inclusive.