Utilizing the Bitcoin Blockchain to Shield us from AI Spam

Utilizing the Bitcoin Blockchain to Shield us from AI Spam

October 2023

0 minutes read

Humayun Sheikh aptly noted, “the Bitcoin Blockchain and AI are both extraordinarily powerful technologies. When combined, they have the potential to drastically transform the way we live and work.” As we navigate the digital wave, we find ourselves in the currents of two converging titans—Blockchain and AI. From the inception of the internet, spam has been a persistent issue, a problem that has been exacerbated by the mainstream adoption of social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

Rethinking Spam in the Information Economy

To truly comprehend the problem, we need to reassess our definition of ‘spam’. Traditionally, spam is perceived as unsolicited or irrelevant messages sent en masse over the internet. However, in the context of our information-driven economy, a more nuanced understanding of ‘spam’ is necessary.

‘Spam’, in this setting, could be any piece of information that reaches a recipient without passing through a significant threshold or barrier. The lack of this barrier often indicates that the information has been produced at little or no cost, making it easy to freely distribute, and consequently leading to an oversupply of potentially irrelevant or low-quality information.

Consider a music concert. When you buy a ticket, you invest resources (time, money, and effort) to experience the performance. This investment forms a ‘threshold’, ensuring that you genuinely value and desire the information (in this case, the music). Contrast this with a band’s performance broadcast on national radio—a platform usually subsidized and freely accessible. The lack of a significant threshold allows this information to reach a broad audience, regardless of their actual interest. While some listeners might value this information, for others, it could equate to ‘spam’.

The key premise here is not the truthfulness of the information but the cost associated with its production and access. The higher the cost to produce and access information, the higher its potential value, because the parties involved are less likely to expend resources on creating and disseminating information that they don’t deem valuable.


The Bitcoin blockchain: An Effective Firewall Against Spam

Bitcoin relies on a consensus mechanism known as Proof of Work (PoW), a fundamental aspect of its design. In PoW, by mining, miners solve complex mathematical problems to validate transactions and add them to the Bitcoin blockchain. This process, requiring substantial computational resources and time, imposes a cost on participation.

Motivated by the prospect of earning transaction fees, miners prioritize transactions with higher fees. This economic incentive naturally discourages spam transactions, which are typically characterized by low fees or none at all. As such, Bitcoin’s PoW mechanism serves as a filter, deterring spam transactions and promoting the processing of value-bearing ones.


Social Media and the Proliferation of Spam

Digital platforms like Twitter exemplify this concept of ‘spam’. Twitter enables users to freely generate and consume content, underwritten by users’ personal information, which Twitter leverages to sell targeted advertising. The lack of a significant threshold here makes it easy for users to share information, regardless of its relevance or quality.

Recognizing this, Twitter has been exploring options to establish a more meaningful threshold for content generation and consumption. Reports suggest that Twitter is considering charging users for verification. This move could potentially reduce ‘spam’ by associating a cost with users’ contributions, thereby encouraging users to share more valuable, relevant information.

It would be much simpler to build Twitter on the Bitcoin blockchain, solving all these issues—only then Twitter would be owned by its users and not by Elon Musk.


AI and the Impending Information Overload

AI technologies can generate massive amounts of data at an unprecedented scale. However, without an adequate filtering mechanism , this can lead to a proliferation of ‘spam’—information that’s irrelevant, low-quality, or potentially harmful. This AI-generated spam poses a significant concern, leading to information overload and potentially compromising the integrity of our digital channels.



Applying the Bitcoin blockchain Spam-Resistant Mechanisms to AI

A potential remedy to AI-generated spam is applying the principles of Bitcoin’s PoW mechanism to AI systems. By imposing a cost or ‘threshold’ for generating and submitting information, we can discourage the creation of spam, enabling AI systems to focus on high-quality, relevant data and thus reducing information overload.

Some critics may argue for more regulation and fact-checking as solutions to information overload and digital misinformation. However, these solutions carry their own sets of problems. Regulatory and fact-checking interventions can be subjective, leaving room for propaganda and misuse by powerful bad actors.

Regulation and government interventions are akin to a postmodern artist's attempt to fix a broken clock; they may add a touch of creative flair, but they rarely address the true mechanics of the issue at hand.

Ruud Bruynen

Imagining a Trustless, Environmentally Sustainable Digital Future

By integrating these eco-friendly and trustless mechanisms, we can create a digital environment more resistant to the onslaught of ‘spam’, where valuable and relevant information takes center stage. As Saifedean Ammous notes in ‘The Bitcoin Standard‘, “In a world with a Bitcoin blockchain, trust is no longer necessary, because the system operates in a decentralized and transparent manner.”

In conclusion, the principles underlying Bitcoin’s design offer us a potential path towards a future where AI technologies are less prone to spamming us with irrelevant or low-quality information. By attaching costs to the generation and submission of information, we can create meaningful thresholds that maintain focus on high-quality, relevant content. In a world where AI and Bitcoin blockchain continue to advance and intertwine, leveraging such mechanisms to ensure the integrity and value of our information economy is not just a possibility—it’s a necessity. As Monty Python famously sang, we don’t need to accept a world filled with “Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam.”


Ruud Bruynen

Founder/Head of Marketing

Share this: