An artificial intelligence (AI) and Blockchain start-up with backing from Harrisburg University in Pennsylvania is developing a completely new way of utilizing and processing data by integrating AI and “smart logic” into every bit of data. The goal is to build what is described as an “AI Superhighway” according to the tech protagonists with the vision behind the project.
Essentially, the proposition goes that by embedding every piece of data with artificial intelligence, otherwise “dumb data”, which requires an application to become useful, becomes valuable and “smart.”
This means the “AI Thought” attaches to data allows the digital information to act on its own. So, understanding where it came from, where it is supposed to go and what it has to do or what function it has to perform. The upshot is that it reduces the need for third-party applications, thus making data processing much cheaper as well as significantly faster.
So what is all behind it? Well, by combining the application layer into the data layer, Thought’s Smart Data becomes aware of its origin, knows its purpose, and is able to act on its own to accomplish its goal. It is claimed to eliminate the need for traditional applications that traditionally make it possible for data to move between devices, cutting costs and complexity associated with these applications. And, while also increasing speed dramatically.
Andrew Hacker, CEO and founder of Thought, commenting on the background to the initiative said: “In the few past decades, humans have advanced in technology at an exponential pace. It is incredible to witness. But all of these innovations have also caused an explosion of data. Everything ranging from social media to human genome research generates massive amounts of data.”
Professor Hacker, a renowned cybersecurity expert who has been granted a U.S. patent for his innovative concept of Smart Data, added: “Currently, all data is created equal until it is sorted through and categorized by special algorithms. Data is inherently inanimate and it only becomes useful when it is processed by an application. The massive growth in data creation is adding up to a landscape, which is littered with too much information and applications as well as insufficient intelligence to handle all of it.”
Cryptocurrencies: Mineable vs Non-Mineable
In terms of mineable crypto currencies (or cryptocurrency mining), this refers to the process whereby new cryptocurrency digital coins are created when a miner successfully verifies a cryptocurrency transaction and adds it to a public ledger within the cryptocurrency network.
Examples of top ten mineable cryptocurrencies are Bitcoin/Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Dash, Litecoin, Monero, Ethereum Classic, BitConnect, Zcash, and Steem according to coinmarketcap.com, while the top ten non-mineable cryptocurrencies include EOS, IOTA, Lisk, NEM, NEO, Omisego, Qtum, Ripple, Stratis and Waves.
Thought makes “data agile” and able to act on its own without any external help according to Professor Hacker. And, integrating blockchain technology with this concept creates an extra layer of security on the smallest level. Every piece of data is secured with cryptography, thereby allowing the owners of the data to dictate exactly who has access to it.
By way of example, take a hospital room where all of the equipment communicates with each other. So, the thermostat can communicate with the patient’s health record and his/her current health readings from the equipment and find the most optimal room temperature and humidity for this patient. But that is only the thermostat.
With Thought’s solution one does not require any third-party applications to make it happen; the information is able to communicate with other pieces of data to make this happen.
There are also many other challenges facing the healthcare sector, with it being littered with tons and tons of ancient systems and applications, many of which do not talk to each other. With Thought’s Smart Data concept all these disparate systems are enabled to talk to each other to be in a position to translate the data and read the systems. It’s also held up as being “infinitely cheaper and faster” according to Professor Hacker.
Monopolistic World Of AI
In addition, Thought is touted as being able to bring “equality and accessibility” to the highly monopolistic world of AI, where only large companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google have the capability to develop artificial intelligence.
“Until this day, access to AI and Big Data has been limited to only a handful of organizations, but for seeing true innovation take place, AI and data have to become easily accessed and available to everyone who is looking to work with this emerging technology,” asserted Nathaniel DiMemmo, Thought’s Chief Operating Officer.
Thought is building what is described as a “foundational, information transformation network” with data as the commodity. Participants are able to exchange data and applications. Add to that the ecosystem is able to host “data-hungry applications” for researchers in fields like AI, healthcare, transportation and communications.
In fact the proposition is put forward as being applicable and deployable across various industries, so effectively industry agnostic. As such the open marketplace of information opens up “new possibilities for smaller organizations to utilize AI” according to Professor Hacker, who worked for the state of Pennsylvania in a senior cybersecurity role during a six-year tenure.
Blockchain’s Unparalleled Security
Integrating blockchain technology is said to introduce “unparalleled security” to the whole ecosystem of Thought. “Using blockchain technology allows us to protect every bit of information with multi-layered encryption, creating the highest level of security,” explained Samuel Jones, Chief Software Engineer for Thought.
Building something as complex as Thought requires – as one might expect – highly dedicated and technically savvy professionals as well as knowledgeable advisors. To this end Thought’s development team comprises over fifteen members and a board of advisors ranging from PhDs to a retired Army Colonel.
Gil O’Brien, CMO of Thought who is based in New York, commenting in relation to the team behind the project noted: “With dedicated and experienced professionals in their respective fields we have managed to solve all of the issues that have stood in our way and have powered towards the completion of our platform.”
The Thought platform is touted as being able to be applied to any industry or data problem. It is based entirely around one of the smallest units in computing: the individual piece of data. In the current paradigm, that piece of data is being routed through servers, stored in data centers, and compiled and sifted through big data analytics and AI algorithms.
It brings what is described as a “new paradigm” in that it is a platform facilitating a holistic ecosystem of innovative developers and their applications relying on strong data governance to guarantee privacy, ownership and provenance.
Specifically, it consists of three layers, namely: (1) Information Layer – Nuances and concepts that control the compute layer through the Fabric; (2) Fabric Layer – Thought software abstraction; and (3) Compute Layer – All computer resources that are joined to the network.
For its part, Harrisburg University, a private non-profit university offering bachelor and graduate degree programs in science, technology and math fields, is committed to providing women with more opportunities in the STEM fields, to an educational group that is boosting STEM education in middle schools and high schools. The university has founded and partnered with numerous innovative technology and education businesses over the years.
According to Dr. Eric Darr, President, Harrisburg University of Science & Technology (since May 2013), and one of the advisors to Thought, said the upcoming release of the Thought Blockchain and its applications for businesses and consumers in AI and analytics “represent the bleeding-edge of innovation.”
The university is understood to have provided seed capital for Thought to progress the initiatives being pursued by Professor Hacker, a cybersecurity expert in Residence at Harrisburg University, to fully build out the venture’s vision and platform. And, it is Hacker who conceived and developed the concept of hybrid and smart data over the past six years.
Dr Darr added: “We came to believe that Mr. Hacker’s technology had significant promise. Therefore, Harrisburg University has been pleased to financially support the involvement of many computer science students in the further development of the latest Thought technology.”
Dr John Bates, CEO of Testplant, a firm majority owned by The Carlyle Group that offers a suite of digital automation intelligence tools, commenting from San Francisco in relation to Thought’s proposition, said: “I worked on intelligent mobile agent technology back in the 1990s during my time as a Cambridge academic. The concept was to be able to send both data and application intelligence – encapsulated as an “agent” that could be transmitted across networks to run anywhere.”
The Englishman who has a Cambridge PhD and is listed as one of the ‘Tech 50’ most influential technologists by Institutional Investor over five consecutive years (2011-2015), added: “If THOUGHT can achieve what they claim then they are able to transmit AI-enabled agents securely and transactionally across networks, using Blockchain – in guaranteed transactions – which can then run only for the right owner(s).”
Elaborating further Dr Bates, who holds a doctorate in computer science from Cambridge University in the U.K. and author of the book Thingalytics: Smart Big Data Analytics for the Internet of Things, posited: “Imagine not just sending currency securely (a la Blockchain), but being able to send intelligent data apps securely. In the Internet-of-Things (IoT) era, these might be transmitted between networked hardware, which could have good and bad implications.”
Furthermore, as Bates, who previously worked at Software AG, an enterprise software company with over 10,000 enterprise customers in more than seventy countries that is listed on Deutsche Boerse, and former CEO at Plat.One (acquired by SAP in 2016), more broadly stated: “Law enforcement agents in the field can share multi-dimensional information securely. But – in the vein of the Salisbury attacks in the U.K. – could a rogue AI agent, disguised as a smart downloadable recipe, take over the kitchen so to speak, and identify me as the target and electrically shock me?” That certainly makes one think.
That aside, Bates ventured: “I think bundling AI logic and data together with security and Blockchain sounds wonderful. We just have to ensure we know what that AI can ultimately do, because if something can learn and evolve, then we don’t necessarily know the limits of what we are securely receiving.”