iExec: Addressing the trust issues of AI with blockchain

iExec: Addressing the trust issues of AI with blockchain

Data security, traceability of processing tasks, explicability of results… The development of artificial intelligence comes up against a global issue of trust. Beyond contracts and agreements that may fail, shifting trust to technology may represent an appropriate alternative. This is what blockchain allows. iExec, a French company founded by two INRIA researchers, relies on this technology, coupled with confidential computing, to address the challenges of AI. iExec offers industry players a secure infrastructure to process confidential or sensitive data, while ensuring confidentiality, trust and governance.

Blockchain is a technology based on cryptographic hashing that allows transactions to be recorded in an immutable, transparent and auditable manner. Confidential computing, based on RAM encryption, allows data to be processed in a completely confidential manner. ” When applied to the AI industry, the combination of these two technologies creates a trusted environment that addresses the challenges of both data owners and model providers,” explains Francis Otshudi, Director of the Enterprise Market.

Preserve the confidentiality and governance of analyzed data

Thanks to its infrastructure, iExec allows data owners to benefit from the inference of artificial intelligence while maintaining the governance and confidentiality of shared data. The blockchain, via the smart contract deployed, will establish the rules for the use of this data and guarantee that companies retain control over it. By choosing, for example, who can access the data or under what conditions. In addition to this control, the confidentiality and ownership of the data must be maintained. This is where confidential computing comes in. The data is encrypted and remains protected during the entire processing. No one can access the data, thus preventing any alterations or copies.

A healthcare institution can make its confidential patient data available to train an AI model without ever losing ownership of the data or having it revealed,” explains Francis Otshudi. Only the results of the requested analysis will be accessible in clear text to the model owner. The assurance that data remains protected opens the way to new commercial opportunities for companies. They can monetize the use of their data with solution and model providers.

By removing the reluctance to deal with sensitive data, blockchain and confidential computing also enable companies to make the most of their data. For example, both technologies allow external AI models to be integrated with confidence. And the prospects are great. The European Commission estimates that today, more than 80% of industrial data remains untapped.

Monetize models while retaining ownership

The alliance of blockchain and confidential computing also benefits solution providers. Like the data to be processed, the model will also be encrypted to guarantee its total confidentiality. Rules of use will also be established by the provider to certify that it retains full governance of its model. ” iExec expands the prospects of AI providers by allowing them to monetize the sole use of their model, via a rental system or a pay-per-use fee. This, without losing ownership or the buyer having access to the model in the clear “, explains the Director of the Enterprise Market.

Finally, the blockchain helps AI players in their efforts to make their models explainable. Being able to retrace the steps that led an algorithm to make a decision or to show from which elements the results were obtained are important issues to ensure trust. On the blockchain, proof of access and data processing are recorded in a transparent and unforgeable way. This guarantees that the requested processing has been carried out, or that the model has not been manipulated by a third party.

Example of use in data science

iExec has supported the startup KnowledgeX in the deployment of a marketplace that connects companies in need of external data analysis expertise with freelance data scientists. iExec’s infrastructure allows companies to benefit from the expertise of data scientists, without their data being accessible. How does it work? The client company ensures that the selected data scientist and his model meet its needs by consulting a representative sample of the model, which is not sensitive. Once the two parties have contracted, iExec’s infrastructure encrypts all the elements, both the company’s data and the data scientist’s model. Thanks to the blockchain, each party also establishes the governance rules it wishes to define in terms of access rights.

The ability to share and exploit the volumes of data generated in industry, IoT, healthcare, marketing, etc. represents real economic potential. By enabling the use of models and data to be monetized without losing ownership, our ambition is to develop a virtuous circle in which each player can benefit from the resources of its entire ecosystem in complete confidence,” concludes Francis Otshudi.

Discover how to create a trusted environment for AI thanks to blockchain

Translated from iExec : Répondre aux enjeux de confiance de l’IA grâce à la blockchain