An often heard narrative over the years has centered on the potential impact of artificial intelligence (A.I.) on work. According to CB Insights, last year (2016) more than $5 billion dollars of venture capital was raised by companies where A.I. is a core piece of their product—up from around $3B the year before, and $2.6B prior to that. However while A.I. technology and investments are advancing rapidly, system trust remains a commonly discussed concern for autonomous systems.
Situated at the epicenter of this trend is Talla, a company that has an A.I. powered knowledge and information management platform for business teams like HR, IT and product management.
Aware from the beginning that compliance, auditability and security would be a critical layer of their software—which can make decisions on behalf of humans, and learns and changes over time—Talla became the first enterprise to deliver a blockchain platform for fellow developers of A.I. software to make chatbots and digital agents meet audit and compliance standards.
Known as BotChain, the blockchain platform is based on the premise that, as A.I.-based systems continue to be widely adopted, both users and products will need a technical infrastructure in which identities and transactions are verifiable and auditable. For instance, when an A.I. bot takes action on behalf of a human, such as booking travel, sharing meeting information, or compiling documentation, a digital certificate of those transactions is hashed to a ledger, so that in the event that an audit of what was authorized is needed, it’s immutably stored on the blockchain for reference. Talla believes this technology is the missing element for truly widespread A.I. adoption in business.
“We will soon be in a world in which hundreds of thousands of bot transactions occur each minute,” said Rob May, Talla CEO and author of a popular machine intelligence newsletter.
“Some [transactions] are human-to-bot; others are bot-to-bot, and some even involve a series of autonomous bots. Each transaction requires an immutable digital certificate to record what happened and why. Bots in the enterprise will only grow when there are ways for them to establish trust with humans and with other bots.”
May asserted that traditional APIs, intended for simple data exchange, are ill-equipped to handle autonomous systems driven by A.I. He also pointed out that the new generation of systems emerging can intelligently adapt, change and make decisions over time. He believes this new generation will help fuel the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” a historical theme in which artificial intelligence becomes critical to how most work is accomplished.
The beauty of BotChain is that it delivers critical systems that it benefits anyone utilizing A.I. products, as well as those developing them.
Another integral part of BotChain’s value is that it maintains that bot identities are verified with certainty for humans that use them, as well as to other bots. Maintaining verifiable bot identities prevents bot spoofing and spamming.
BotChain’s value to the world of business and enterprise encompasses the following attributes to govern artificial intelligence:
- transparency: an auditable, decentralized trail on autonomous decisions reached as well as clear retraining of machine learning models, something many current systems are missing
- standardization: regulated protocols for autonomous systems which allow them to communicate and, therefore, synchronize work across the network
- open commerce: later next year, Talla will launch an open marketplace of skills that bot developers can access and add to their product offerings
The Genesis of Talla’s Blockchain-powered A.I.
Based in Boston, Massachusetts, Talla has raised over $12 million in venture capital, making it one of the best funded startups targeting A.I. autonomous agents for business. The Talla team possesses decades of experience in software building, A.I. and data science. Led by May, the leadership team includes COO Catharina Mallet, Chief Data Scientist Byron Galbraith and Chief Architect Jon Klein.
During the first couple years of building their B2B A.I. knowledge management software, Talla recognized that blockchain technology would be the ideal fit for the platform’s compliance, security and audit infrastructure. In addition, the distributed nature of blockchain allowed for a tool for the entire ecosystem of developers to standardize on protocols, helping accelerate adoption and transactions between multiple intelligent agents. Though some time would elapse before they could dedicate their resources to building the BotChain platform, “the idea, once stuck in our heads, continued to grow,” said May.
The BotChain Token Sale
The token sale for BotChain’s BOT token is set to commence in early 2018. There is a total supply for 30,000,000 BOT tokens and the initial price for one BOT token will be $5 USD, though the company notes that those are subject to change.
Concludes May: “Ultimately our decision to build BotChain is tied to our belief in the importance of this solution to enable long term adoption of bots in large enterprises. We invite you to read our white paper here and stay tuned as we dive into these issues in greater detail in the days ahead.”