Brian Austin

August 25, 2023

AI Microtransactions

Should AI have unfettered access to money? The Lightning Network does exactly that, and provides a mechanism for AI to create a wallet, earn money and then spend money on other services in order to complete a task.

To paraphrase Lyn Alden's August newsletter: "An AI agent is purposely set up by the creator to have some funds to spend as needed. AI could start with no money, and be given a task or just “decide” to do a task. It generates a bitcoin/lightning wallet and either convinces its creator to give it funds or otherwise finds a way to earn funds online With access to money, it pays for things it needs."

The potential is incredible and alarming.  Regardless of our reservations it will happen, and it has happened. In a recent video Kody Low (Head of Developer and Product Support at Fedi) asks GPT-4 write code for him, and pays GPT-4 on a per-question basis using Lightning Network.  The fact that GPT-4 can write code is not the novelty, it's that an AI now has access to a payments system and can transfer store of value assets (i.e. money).

Elizabeth Stark, CEO of Lightning Labs when describing L402 as a "network is capable of doing micropayments that are much smaller than what Visa and Mastercard can do. With Lightning, you can send payments worth a fraction of a penny. This opens up new use-cases that aren’t possible with credit cards, for example, such as machine-to-machine payments, the streaming of micro-payments, or the usage of micro-payments as a spam-prevention technique" 

All this makes me wonder about the long term impact on on crypto markets as the volume of transactions inevitable experiences hockey stick growth due to growing AI driven microtransactions.

About Brian Austin

A software engineer building products and services for smaller companies. This newsletter syndicates all of my LinkedIn content.

For AI project updates check out Project Maestro on Substack.

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