Artificial intelligence will solve Ethereum’s “biggest problem,” says Vitalik Buterin

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Artificial intelligence has gained ground in almost all industries in recent months. According to Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, it can also be very useful in fixing major technical flaws in the network.

“One application of artificial intelligence that excites me is AI-assisted formal code verification and bug finding,” wrote Buterin on his social network account

The formal verification named by Vitalik Buterin involves using mathematical methods to demonstrate the correctness of software code. Thus, it ensures that a protocol behaves as expected and minimizes the risk of errors or vulnerabilities.

In the context of Ethereum, where smart contracts are essential, having solid code is no small thing. In fact, in December 2023 the Open Zeppelin team disclosed vulnerabilities in two Ethereum smart contract functions that led to the theft of more than $200,000 in cryptocurrency.

Ethereum smart contract.
Fragment of a smart contract written in Solidity for Ethereum. Source: Etherscan.

AI-assisted formal verification can add automation and efficiency to the process identification of possible problems within the code. By leveraging machine learning algorithms, AI systems can comprehensively analyze complex code structures and identify potential vulnerabilities that could go undetected through manual inspection alone.

4 uses of artificial intelligence in cryptocurrency networks

The aforementioned X post is not Vitalik Buterin’s first reference to artificial intelligence in the cryptocurrency space. In a recent article on his personal blog, the developer explained the four roles that AI can take in this technological field, although his connection so far is limited.

But there is a change in perception in the last three years, Buterin explains, thanks to more powerful AI and more powerful cryptocurrency networks. An important counterpoint that he highlights is that In cryptography, transparency is essential for security, while in AI, openness increases vulnerability to adversarial machine learning attacks.

Blockchain artificial intelligence.
Differences between artificial intelligence and blockchains, according to Vitalik Buterin. Source: Vitalik.eth.limo.

The four potential uses that Vitalik Buterin highlights are: AI “as a player in a game”participating in mechanisms where incentives come from a protocol with human inputs; AI “as a game interface”, helping users understand the world of cryptocurrencies and ensuring that their behavior matches their intentions, avoiding traps or scams; AI “as rules of the game”, with blockchains and similar mechanisms using AI-based “judges”; and the AI “as the objective of the game”, designing blockchains and mechanisms to keep AI usable for other purposes, using cryptocurrencies to incentivize training and prevent misuse of AI.

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