The bigger picture: data & AI democratization and why blockchain?

The world is going through a major revolution led by the Generative AI innovations. Yet the innovation is not going without data ownership backlashes where even major traditional enterprises are suing AI tech giants over intellectual property infringements [4], let alone we individual users of the internet. Imagine a world where Instagram trains their LLMs based on all creators’ work published on the platform, and use that capability to compete with the creators themselves — and this is already happening [5] — how gloomy is that web2 internet future looking like for the next 10 years? Sooner or later, people will be forced to realize what web2.0 internet is fundamentally missing — ownership rights over data [6], and look elsewhere for resolution. Blockchain makes data ownership easily attributable and secured, enabling alternative business models to be built aligning data owners, algorithm & service providers, and service users. If such a goal is realized, one can imagine an alternative world where individuals are incentivized to contribute data, some public and others being proprietary or even highly sensitive (protected by privacy preserving technologies like Zero-knowledge Proof), to sparkle a new wave of innovations fueled by AI and most importantly availability to networks of data. In this alternative world, individual and organizational data owners are no longer victims of ownership infringements, but proud beneficiaries and supporters of a virtuous cycle of AI revolutions. And such an important enabler has to be neutral and owned by the community as a public goods infrastructure to avoid the same pitfalls we faced in the web2 era. While this future may seem “too futuristic”, the best timing is actually NOW, with new AI innovations still in the process of taking off, and web3 data getting ready to scale exponentially [3]. As we will discuss later in this article, we already have a large enough and soon-to-be exponentially increasing amount of data on-chain to deliver a tremendous amount of value to the ecosystem, driving a virtuous flywheel for the long haul and eventually challenge web2 giants’ dominance.

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