AI needs guardrails; enterprise blockchain has a role to play
By Calvin Ayre | 27 September 2023
In an astonishingly brief period, artificial intelligence (AI) has gone from the stuff of science fiction to a very real presence in the here and now, with significant ramifications for the world as we know it.
Not a day goes by without fresh reports of AI making further inroads—welcome or unwelcome—into different avenues of society. These reports illustrate AI’s capacity to disrupt any number of sectors, everything from business, the arts, science, government operations… few sectors appear immune.
All disruptive technologies spark similar concerns, stretching back to the original Luddites following the introduction of machinery into English textile mills in the early 1800s. I’m not yet convinced that AI must inevitably lead to the kind of malevolent ‘self-aware’ systems envisioned in the Terminator movies—although James Cameron is already making the rounds warning of the dangers of AI’s weaponization—but there will definitely be people who’ll need to retrain for different skills as AI’s capacities grow.
The growing awareness of AI’s capabilities followed the public being granted access to a number of programs that create text, images, videos, and musical compositions based on text prompts. The resulting creations left a lot of users slack-jawed after reading, seeing, or hearing the seemingly impossible.
As might be expected, some AI-generated images, videos, and music are better than others. The image software can struggle to render things like hands, while many of the singers belting out other people’s songs are easily detectable as bogus.
There are concerns regarding AI text generators’ tendency to sound authoritative even when they’re talking utter bullshit—potentially fatal bullshit. A New Zealand grocery chain recently found itself doing damage control after its in-house chatbot responded to a customer prompt for making an economical meal from water, ammonia, and bleach. The resulting ‘Aromatic Water Mix’ suggestion was, in reality, a recipe for chlorine gas, which hasn’t been popular since World War I.
The need for adult supervision
Public opinion may be split on whether AI will be our savior or our downfall, but one thing is clear: it can’t be the former without some technological guardrails, which is where enterprise blockchain comes in.
The basic problem with large language model (LLM) text generators is a formula as old as time: garbage in = garbage out. Simply put, randomly ingesting all available online information will invariably suck in as much bogus data as verifiable truth.
There are also occasions when AI makes up what it doesn’t know. Consider the lazy lawyers who submitted an AI-generated court filing rather than spend time doing their own research. Their failure to abide by the ‘trust but verify’ maxim led to their being sanctioned by a court for attributing fake opinions to real judges. (The court of public opinion may yet leave these attorneys without a practice.)
The situation will get progressively worse as AI models reabsorb AI-generated ‘alternative facts,’ making each new iteration that much further from the truth. Conversely, an AI model trained purely on authentic data from publicly verifiable sources would be a world-beater.
Research groups would benefit from a blockchain-backed AI system by allowing end users to confirm that reports and studies do, in fact, represent the legitimate output of these entities.
Blockchain-based AI could also ensure artists of all sorts (verbal, visual, aural, etc.) are properly compensated for derivative works based on their creations, assuming that ownership of those original creations is registered on the blockchain.
One chain to rule them all
Which is where the BSV Blockchain comes in. BSV is the only blockchain that has proven its ability to scale unbounded, making it the only blockchain capable of handling the immense data management needs of enterprises and governments. (BSV also stands alone as the only digital asset that doesn’t have to worry about financial regulators classifying it as a security rather than a currency.)
BSV is also the only blockchain capable of completing the internet’s development. It’s the only chain capable of handling the immense volume of new addresses possible under IPv6. The only chain that’s also economically equipped to handle all this data, thanks to transaction fees measured in fractions of a penny.
For a while, all you heard from ‘crypto’-focused VCs was the promise of Web3, but that roar has since become a whisper. It wasn’t because Web3 was a bad idea; it was because none of the blockchains that these VCs supported could scale to the level necessary to take Web3 beyond the theoretical.
Web3 is about reversing the transfer of power that occurred between the internet’s early days and the Web2 centralized data-harvesting model that followed. Returning control over personal data to the end user will allow individuals to effectively negotiate who has access to their data, how much of that data can be accessed, how often and for what purpose.
The role that an infinitely scalable blockchain will play in realizing all of the above was all the justification Ayre Ventures needed when it recently made the single-largest blockchain IP investment to date. The CHF500 million ($549.2 million) equity acquisition of nChain was based on its patent library, which Forbes described as impacting “everything from the US$1 trillion cryptocurrency market to corporate implementations built by some of the largest companies in the world.”
Technological advances can (and do) inspire both optimism and fear, but it’s up to us to determine how these technologies impact society. With a little help from blockchain, AI doesn’t present any challenges that we can’t meet while offering opportunities too good to pass up.
Ayre Group–nChain CHF500 million deal set to boost European Tech blockchain and Web3 sectors
By Press Release | 03 August 2023
CHF500million deal believed to be the single largest enterprise blockchain IP investment to date
UPDATE – 31 August 2023: Ahead of the investment in nChain, Calvin Ayre commissioned an independent legal review by Buffone Law Group PLLC regarding the classification of digital assets with a specific focus on Bitcoin and its equivalents as securities. The review emphasised that only categorizing an asset as a “currency” does not exempt it from potentially being deemed a security.
LONDON, UK – 2 August 2023:Ayre Group has finalised agreements to take a controlling interest in nChain, the global leader in blockchain and Web3 technology, in a 500 million Euro deal that will provide a huge boost to the blockchain and Web3 sectors.
As Forbes recently observed, nChain’s patents “affect everything from the US$1 trillion cryptocurrency market to corporate implementations built by some of the largest companies in the world.”
The deal, believed to be the single largest enterprise blockchain IP investment to date, will see Ayre Group invest up to a total of CHF500 million (€516 million/£443 million). The sum consists of an equity acquisition of nChain by the Ayre Group, an IP licensing deal for Ayre Ventures portfolio companies, and a line of credit.
To date, nChain has been awarded nearly 800 technology patents with over 3,000 more presently awaiting approval, a wide-ranging intellectual property library representing the fundamental building blocks on which these next-generation internet products and services will be built. nChain’s IP is the DNA of the new internet, encompassing Web3 precursors, non-fungible tokens, smart contracts, and everything in between.
nChain has a heavyweight R&D team dedicated to turning its vast IP library into workable applications. nChain was included in the LexisNexis Innovation Momentum 2023: The Global Top 100 report of companies advancing innovative solutions to today’s challenges and laying the IP foundations for further breakthroughs.
Ayre Group Founder Calvin Ayre commented on the deal: “For the better part of a decade, nChain and its London-based Chief Scientist Dr. Craig Wright have been quietly amassing a patent portfolio of unparalleled scope, literally the foundational elements of enterprise blockchain, AI and Web3. My goal is to accelerate the pace of nChain’s development and increase the commercial adoption of its extensive IP library.”
Ayre is a vocal supporter of the BSV Blockchain but says nChain’s patents are “blockchain-agnostic. There isn’t a single blockchain or Web3 project out there that isn’t standing on the shoulders of nChain’s patent library—the earliest, largest, and highest quality collection in this space.”
BSV’s combination of unbounded scaling capacity, ultra-low transaction fees and integration with IPv6 make it the only enterprise blockchain on which the internet of the future can be fully realized.
Stefan Matthews, nChain’s Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, added: “Calvin has been a strong advocate for nChain over the years. His decision to take a greater equity position in the nChain Group signifies his confidence in our business model and the value that we hold in our patent portfolio, software development and consulting services.”
About Ayre Group
Ayre Group are a global investment group that fund ground-breaking businesses and technologies. They invest in building ventures in real estate, blockchain technology, media, publishing, health & wellness and travel & leisure.
Ayre Group build and support technology and businesses that break down barriers to entry, democratize opportunity, and positively enhance people’s lives.
nChain is a leading global blockchain technology company, offering software solutions, consulting services and IP licensing for clients in various industries looking to benefit from the security, transparency and scalability of the blockchain. Founded in 2015, with offices in Lichtenstein, Switzerland, the UK and Slovenia, nChain employs more than 240 staff, holds nearly 800 patents and is the developer of the Bitcoin SV Node software, Teranode, LiteClient and more.
About Calvin Ayre
Calvin Ayre is a celebrated entrepreneur with an established track record of building successful internet-based businesses. In the mid-1990s, he was among the first to see online gambling’s breakout potential, leading to the launch of his market-leading Bodog brand and his appearance on the cover of the 2006 Forbes ‘Billionaires’ issue. Since leaving the gaming industry, he has focused on the Ayre Group, which invests in real estate, travel & leisure, blockchain/Web3 and media/publishing projects. Ayre Group also produces the London Blockchain Conference, the world’s largest annual Government and Enterprise Blockchain conference.
Ayre Ventures joins Satoshi Block Dojo’s growing database of investors and VCs
By Press Release | 24 February 2022
This article was originally published on CoinGeek on February 24, 2022.
Ayre Ventures has made a significant investment in technology startup incubator Satoshi Block Dojo (SBD), offering additional opportunities for BSV-focused entrepreneurs to turn their visions into reality.
This week, Ayre Ventures announced that it had made a significant investment in the London-based Satoshi Block Dojo, which operates an intensive 12-week in-house training program for BSV-focused startups that offers these fledgling projects much more than simply desk space and the occasional word of encouragement.
Launched in August 2021, the Dojo announced its mission as taking responsibility for the more mundane and financially draining aspects of starting a company in order to let founders focus on the development of their idea into a tangible and truly viable product.
Following an application and vetting process, each of the Dojo’s first ‘cohort’ of startups entered the Dojo offices in East London on January 15 with a £10,000 ‘golden hello.’ Over the next 12 weeks, these teams—minimum two-person groups, ideally consisting of one commercial/CEO and one technical/CTO, although Dojo can help find technical talent—will enjoy a weekly rhythm of workshops, masterclasses, 1-2-1’s and socials, but the assistance on offer will also have an external component.
Getting corporates involved early
Dojo co-founder Craig Massey said his company was “trying to be more proactive by getting corporates involved right from the start.” Massey, a startup veteran with five successful exits to his credit, said the lesson he took from his failures was “not getting a potential client involved soon enough in the process of building the technology.”
As such, Dojo aims to connect its cohort teams with R&D partners early on. Once these partners are on board, “they can feedback, advise, iterate. It stands to reason that you might end up with a letter of intent or at least some validation that it’s actually going to be a more viable product as opposed to ‘build it and they will come.’”
Potential R&D partners will be able to study the cohort teams through the new Dojo Discover platform, which is scheduled to launch by the end of Q1. Cohort participants will also be able to update potential investors as to their progress throughout the 12-week program and afterwards (in theory up to their Series A funding and beyond). Investors interested in gaining early access to the Dojo Discover platform can sign up here.
At the conclusion of the first cohort on April 7, the individual teams will take part in Demo Day, aka the investor pitch event, with £140,000 in Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) funding potentially awaiting each team. Dojo principals will help cohort teams prep for their moment in the spotlight.
Get to know the cohort
Massey and Dojo CIO James Marchant—who also has a history of successful business exits—believe several of the current cohort are strong contenders to finish strong on Demo Day. Marchant singled out two—Buzzmint and Soundoshi—as his choice for the first teams to score significant investor interest.
Buzzmint is a platform that will allow brands, creators, media-specific businesses and individuals to simply and quickly ideate, create and deploy utility-led NFT/token projects. Customers can integrate their own branded version of the Buzzmint platform into their websites or publish directly to Buzzmint’s own marketplace, which is set to debut in Q3.
Soundoshi—formerly known as Banach Group—is described by its Polish founders as an ownership-based streaming platform, using NFTs as a new music carrier/container. Users can not only own the music but also send, trade or exchange it. The platform, which expects to launch in Q2/Q3, is currently in talks with key Polish music publishers about onboarding their catalogues.
Massey’s top cohort picks include Sattva Meta, who are building a platform to help construction companies reduce their carbon impact and achieve net zero emissions by 2050. There’s also pay-for-play game Ninja Punk Girls and a call-to-earn app called +App, which Massey touted as ideal for professionals who charge by the minute for their services, including lawyers, counsellors and therapists.
BSV investor appetite growing
Ayre Ventures founder Calvin Ayre is a noted BSV proponent and his Ayre Group has made a number of investments in BSV-based projects. As such, his interest in supporting Satoshi Block Dojo—and the multiple successful projects that will likely emerge from its cohorts—seems a no-brainer.
But Ayre’s willingness to back up his vocal support for BSV with generous financial support has led critics to claim that the BSV ecosystem couldn’t survive without him. Massey and Marchant’s history of successful exits have left them with a vastly different view of the field.
The Dojo has a database of over 3,500 angel investors, 250 family offices and early-stage VCs on which they can draw for potential cohort partners. Massey believes Ayre Ventures invested in the Dojo “because it makes a lot of sense but the Dojo is also bringing in lots of new money into the BSV arena.” Ayre Ventures’ willingness to take the lead on this current funding round will “provide confidence to other investors, who are totally outside of the blockchain space, to make significant investments into the Dojo.”
Marchant echoed this view, saying that “as more startups choose to use BSV both inside and outside the Dojo, there is significant growing interest and demand for investment opportunities into attractive business models that are utilising this scalable tech. I would go so far as to say investor appetite outweighs early-stage BSV investment opportunities and this is a problem where the Dojo is aiming to have an impact.”
The future is about scalability
As befitting a company based on accelerating project development, the Dojo is expanding its operations internationally to create a constant flow of new BSV startups and investment opportunities. Marchant said the plan is to open the first international Dojo within the next six to nine months and then add two new locations per year onwards.
The specific locations have yet to be finalized but Marchant said Dojo was weighing options in the Middle East, Central Europe and the United States. Each of these new locations will require an initial round of investment but, as with its original U.K. Dojo, investors will also receive equity in each startup that comes through a specific location. Interested parties are invited to contact Marchant at [email protected].
In the meantime, the Dojo’s London offices will welcome their second cohort about a month after the first bunch ‘graduates’. Entrepreneurs interested in being part of the Dojo’s second cohort need to submit their applications by March 31, with successful applicants scheduled to begin their Dojo experience on April 30. Subsequent cohorts will follow this rough pattern of three months on, one month off.
The Dojo is also hosting its first Ideation Jam on March 23, 2022, in partnership with the UCL Business School. The event will take place in the Lloyds building in London and is appropriately aimed at the insurance industry. Twenty teams of three students apiece will listen as insurance executives cite specific issues/areas in which blockchain tech might offer solutions. A pitch day will follow in which the student teams will present their ideas to a panel of Dojo judges, with the top three teams gaining automatic entry into the Dojo.
Massey said the Dojo has a ‘no one gets left behind’ mantra and this philosophy has trickled down to the current cohort participants. “I have witnessed extraordinary help and collaboration between all the different companies who genuinely, become each other’s business associates.” This spirit of cooperation, combined with the connections made during the 12-week programs, will serve both the Dojo’s cohort teams and the greater BSV ecosystem well in the years to come.
Watch: Satoshi Block Dojo opens doors to next generation of BSV entrepreneurs