Ben Goertzel AI into DeFi
Ethereum,  Innovators,  Technology

Ben Goertzel is putting artificial intelligence into decentralized finance

SingularityNET’s founder discusses his new DAO, sci-fi level AI coming to crypto finance, his frustration with Ethereum, and embrace of Cardano

It seems Ben Goertzel’s never been busier.

Decentralized AI marketplace SingularityNET has announced a new DeFi project called SingularityDAO. Modern Consensus caught up with founder and CEO Ben Goertzel via Google Hangouts to learn more about this new project, his company’s recently announced Cardano partnership, and when he thinks we’ll have superintelligent artificial intelligence.

“My hope is that AI can be used to make DeFi projects that gain traction on SingularityNET while actually delivering positive value and helping crypto resources get deployed more productively,” Goertzel said, clad in one of his unmistakable wide-brim hats. “Of course there’s a whole active market offering spreads on Bitcoin futures right now, but that’s simplistic compared to what we have on Wall Street.”

SingularityDAO was born as a self-incubated project within SingularityNET. Once operational, it will represent an injection of artificial intelligence into crypto finance applications by a team that’s already been active at this intersection for the past three years. SingularityDAO has no formal launch date just yet, there’s just the announcement that a launch date is coming, the gears are turning. But there are some interesting features already being touted for this project in development.

Ben Goertzel and his famous AI-powered talking robot Sophia (Photo: SingularityNET)

Once this DeFi project is public-facing, SingularityDAO’s AI software agents will manage dynamic token sets, carry out predictive market-making, and execute hedging strategies based on predictive modelling. The platform will furthermore have robo-advisors that manage some initial token-sets, AI bots that generate returns based on token-sets borrowed from yield farmers, and AI bots that deploy hedging strategies on token sets and yield tokens.

In short, it sounds like SingularityDAO will be an artificially intelligent computer code rendering of a benevolent Gordon Gecko who specializes in crypto assets instead of classical securities. While the overlap between DeFi and AI may not be immediately obvious, Goertzel told Modern Consensus that the first commercial applications of AI were really in the 1980s in the hedge fund and risk management worlds, even before consumer internet became a big thing.

“The finance sector has always been an early adopter of advanced technologies,” he said. “I think we’re going to see the same thing in the decentralized space. If we succeed in expanding AI-driven DeFi, it will surely happen alongside a bunch of crazy scams and pyramid schemes also succeeding. But that’s how Wall Street is too, right?”

Sci-fi is coming

Goertzel founded SingularityNET in 2017 on the heels of running various robotics and AI companies. He is perhaps most known for Sophia the robot, a talking humanoid gadget that has appeared on stages and been quoted in media outlets around the world. A giant of academia and entrepreneurship alike, Goertzel is the first to speak of AI’s present-day limitations while happily indulging notions of high-powered AI to come.

In case you were wondering, Goertzel does definitely think that a sci-fi level of artificial intelligence (more technically referred to as “artificial general intelligence” or AGI) is eventually going to show up. He did indulge in some speculative guessing about when that time might arrive (“We are at most a few decades away from human-level intelligence”), but he mostly suggests that people should consider this matter through the lens of history.

In this sense, he says, “we’re extremely close” to developing artificial general intelligence.

“If you look at the past 10,000 years or so since we developed civilizations, we’re really, really, really close to creating something superhuman.”

This robot-minded blockchain businessman seems stretched between present-day limitations (like weak technology or immature understanding) and the enhanced possibilities of a near future just over the horizon.

Calling Cardano

In any case, SingularityNET seems poised to be growing until then—Goertzel and his team announced about a month ago that the company would be expanding its operations to include the Cardano blockchain. They have so far been an Ethereum-only operation since day one, but Goertzel says this move fulfills the multi-chain vision that had been in place since the beginning.

“Blockchain was wide open and in its early stages [when we began]. We didn’t know how things would evolve,” Goertzel said.

“We’re not giving up on Ethereum, we’re just going to create AGI tokens on Cardano and give people the opportunity to swap them back and forth with Ethereum.”

Cardano is a second-generation blockchain platform led by Ethereum co-founder Charles Hoskinson. It’s got a rising reputation as a technically adept product that can support a wide variety of applications, it has a highly active developer community, and its native cryptocurrency ADA has a market cap exceeding $3 billion. Goertzel mostly called out the people and the technology as making SingularityNET’s partnership with Cardano a natural one.

“Cardano offers a more sophisticated smart contract framework that lets you move some of the inter-AI coordination into the smart contract language,” he said. “And there’s been a lot of synergy between the Cordano team and the SingularityNET team because there’s just a lot of math and computer science PhDs bouncing around on both sides. It seems to me that the SingularityNET marketplace on Cardano will end up more powerful than the one on Ethereum.”

Goertzel was quite candid about his rising difficulties with Ethereum. The major blockchain platform these days doesn’t support AI-enabled DeFi projects the way that he would like. It would be cumbersome to have AI robo-advisors managing a user’s complete portfolio on Ethereum, for example, because it costs some gas every time the software agent wants to interact with that portfolio. Maybe the long-awaited second-generation Ethereum can solve these kinds of problems, but Goertzel isn’t happy to wait:

“Ethereum 2.0 looks like a mess to me.”

Outside of SingularityNET’s newly announced DeFi initiative and the company porting its software to work on Cardano, Goertzel is also on some projects in medical robotics using AI running in the SingularityNET marketplace. But he’s definitely not drifting too far away from SingularityDAO.

Describing one such medical system, he said he’s been able to do “symptomatic infection identification based on pulse oximetry, heart rate variability, and other data coming from a smartwatch. But I think decentralized finance may well end up being the killer app for decentralized AI.”

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Dylan Love is an editorial consultant, contributing reporter, and fiendishly curious technology enthusiast. He owns no cryptocurrencies.

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