Argentina's gaming block system is risky

You may be pushing hard to show a service that productively combines the use of augmented reality (AR), machine learning and blockchain – but that does not seem to bother IBM.

The company has filed a patent application for a complex AR gaming system designed to direct players away from potentially dangerous natural spaces. To this end, IBM intends to use mechanical learning and blockchain technology to build this new system.

But does this approach make sense? Well, let's go to the patent file.

In the patent

According to the patent (located by the CCN), the system will alert players whenever they approach an area that is marked as undesirable (such as "hhigh-risk locations, culturally sensitive locations, property-labeled locations. ") IBM hopes that this will help players move away from the problem.

The documentation notes that when players have agreed to monitor their location data, the system will be able to compare the location of the users with a database of naturally designated sites that are undesirable. Whenever a player enters such areas, the system will alert users who walk on potentially dangerous turf.

Taking into account the procession of the violation cases we saw during the Pokémon Go madness, creating a system that directs players away from areas with limited content, sounds like a good idea on paper. However, there are several technological challenges that need to be considered – starting with the use of blockchain by IBM.

The problem with using blockchain

IBM states that it intends to use a blockchain to create "trust" about "real-world sites" and to prevent malicious players from providing misleading placement data for personal gains.

"A blockchain is a distributed database that keeps a growing list of data files that cure against tampering and review, "says the patent." The blockchain system safely monitors, stores and maintains place-related transactions with others location metadata ".

But there are quite a lot of questions with this application.

For example, the use of chain blocks does not in itself protect the ability to record misleading (or simple mistaken) data. It simply implies that once recorded, the data will be unchanged (unless the blockchain has built-in backdoors). But that does not mean that the system will be immune to manipulation.

For example, bad actors will still be able to fetch false positioning data into the system that is powered exclusively by IBM's block chains, unless it comes with sensors that are specially designed to validate events that take place outside a blockchain. Worrying, there is no reference to an oracle's application in IBM's patent application.

In order to create this kind of "trust", IBM should develop sensors that can adequately confirm the authenticity of any location data in the real world before storing them in their own block chain.

Blocking of mechanical learning

Even more confusing is IBM's plan to use machine learning to interpret stored position data and to alert users to the potential risk.

The patent indicates that, thanks to advanced neural networks, the system will be able to conduct risk prediction work with "varying degrees of trust". These forecasts will then be transmitted to all users who may be at risk or near hazardous areas.

IBM points out that users will also be able to use this feature to determine what they want to protect. For example, a diabetic player may ask the system to alert him whenever he / she has been removed from any possible help.

But without speaking in place, it could prove to be very easy for fighters to abuse the system. Indeed, a malicious player could point to safe areas as "dangerous" to keep competing players away from specific locations. Or alternatively, fraudsters could abuse the system to point out differently dangerous areas as "safe" and lure unsuspecting victims to dangerous situations.

IBM and the blockchain

All of these issues, IBM has not yet indicated how serious it is to secure it. In any case, the blockchain may not be the best choice for this particular application.

As with most patents, there is no reason why – if ever – IBM will give green light to the concept of growth. But if he does, he will deal better with these issues before putting anyone at risk.

And for what it deserves, I sincerely hope that other IBM initiatives related to the blockchain are a bit better studied.

Published on November 5, 2018 – 17:28 UTC