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Artificial Intelligence and blockchain: The new power couple

Blockchain can be the “bouncer” that generative AI needs, guarding IP, mitigating cyber and regulatory risks, and opening new revenue streams.

abstract cluster of cubes

All those companies racing to adopt generative artificial intelligence (AI) technology platforms such as ChatGPT and DALL-E to drive innovation—you know, basically every company today—are also still chasing one fundamental question: How do you translate AI into real business results?

Sure, generative AI has been great at generating buzz, and there’s clearly significant potential. But unlocking that potential while also navigating AI’s equally significant risks are now the pressing concerns for business leaders as AI strategy has graduated from the innovation lab to the C-suite.

Make no mistake, though, executives seem to be universally optimistic that AI will drive innovation for their businesses, as we detail in a new report, “2023 KPMG Generative AI Survey,” which captures feedback from 300 executives across a wide range of industries. Among the survey’s key insights:


of the executives see generative AI as the most impactful emerging technology they will use


believe generative AI will increase workforce productivity


plan to implement their first generative AI solution within two years


believe generative AI will help their business gain a competitive advantage.

Even so, it’s hard to ignore the gigantic legal elephant in the room. Because AI learns by scraping all available data—including yours and, potentially, that of your competitors—how can you protect your intellectual property (IP) and avoid the unwitting infringement of IP that others own?

That answer is still unknown, which is why 92 percent of leaders we surveyed think generative AI implementation is a moderate- to high-risk endeavor.

However, one solution may be emerging—ironically enough, from another widely hyped, often misunderstood technology. Allow us to reintroduce you to blockchain.

Has blockchain found its killer app?

Blockchain—a decentralized, distributed technology that’s primarily been used to develop and manage cryptocurrencies, smart contracts, and nonfungible tokens (NFTs)—is being seen increasingly as the AI “bouncer” the business world needs now.

By harnessing blockchain’s immutable and transparent nature, companies can seamlessly integrate valuable IP guardrails into generative AI chatbot training, not only shielding it from misuse but also opening new revenue channels, as we outline in another new KPMG report, “Blockchain and generative AI: A perfect pairing?”

Here are some of the key benefits of leveraging blockchain to protect against AI misuse, detailed further in our new report:


Accurate identity and verification: Blockchain’s ability to decentralize identity and verification could ensure the authenticity and ownership of IP used to train AI chatbots. Blockchain enables the creation of an immutable record of transactions, attributing the IP to its rightful owner and preventing unauthorized use.


Proper attribution and royalties: By transforming the pieces of IP into NFTs with embedded smart contracts stored on a blockchain, companies can specify which parts of their IP can be used freely, which require attribution, and which require payment of royalties or compensation.


Protection against infringement: Storing and tagging IP on a blockchain before making it available to generative AI chatbots can significantly reduce the risk of infringing on someone else’s intellectual property. Companies can compare their content with existing blockchain records to identify potential overlaps and avoid lawsuits or copyright violations.


Legal certainty: AI is still the Wild West, legally speaking. Legal frameworks around copyright protection, ownership, and liability are just starting to take shape. By adopting blockchain technology for IP protection, companies can proactively address these uncertainties and establish transparent and traceable records of their content.


Data privacy and compliance: Generative AI raises concerns about data privacy, particularly when AI models are trained on publicly available data. By incorporating blockchain into the process, companies can ensure compliance with data protection regulations and demonstrate responsible use of AI technologies.

Securing the (block)chain of command

In many ways, blockchain is generative AI’s ideal technology complement—the grounding rod for AI’s lightning. But, much like AI itself, blockchain is not some silver bullet that, on its own, will unleash AI innovations. The “tech” certainly matters, sure, but so too do the “people” and “process” components.

The work to do ahead is significant. Organizations must adopt and enforce a responsible AI framework—an approach to designing, building, and deploying AI systems in a safe, trustworthy, and ethical manner that will need to include all parts of that people-process-technology equation. That means, for example, ensuring data integrity, statistical validity, and the accuracy of the predicative models—three top concerns cited by executives in our recent “2023 KPMG US AI Risk Survey Report .”

And there’s still much work to be done on that front, as we note in the report, with some apparent gaps in expectations. In one example, somewhat surprisingly, 82 percent of respondents in our AI risk survey said their company had a clear definition of AI and full understanding of their predictive models—except that many of the companies surveyed are also using “blackbox” solutions developed by third parties that simply don’t offer that optimistic level of transparency.


On a related, and also conflicting, note: 19 percent of the respondents said their companies have the expertise they need today to manage many AI risk management tasks.

To successfully manage AI risk, companies must consider their entire AI ecosystem and the complete lifecycles of everything within it—and then design an operating model and processes that reflect leading governance practices for establishing a responsible AI framework.

For more insights around generative AI, explore the 2023 KPMG Generative AI Survey or Our thinking: Blockchain and generative AI.

Explore more insights and opportunities around generative AI

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