On July 6, the Bitcoin Lightning Network development firm, Lightning Labs, introduced a new toolkit that enables artificial intelligence (AI) applications to interact with the Bitcoin network through its layer-2 solution.
The latest move aims to enhance the efficiency, affordability, and convenience of payments for AI developers. By leveraging Lightning’s capabilities, developers can move away from traditional payment systems such as credit cards, which are often cumbersome and costly. Additionally, these tools enable the implementation of pay-per-use AI models on the Lightning Network.
The popularity of the AI industry skyrocketed following the successful launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT. This advanced chatbot acquired over 100 million users within two months of its release in November.
ChatGPT is an example of a large language model (LLM) that employs training on extensive datasets to generate human-like text in response to user prompts.
Leveraging Lightning’s capabilities for AI payment systems
Lightning Labs expressed enthusiasm about the innovation that LLM models bring. The recently unveiled tools are built on the L402 protocol, a native authentication mechanism of the Lightning Network. They also utilize Langchain, a library that simplifies operations with AI applications.
Lightning Labs acknowledged a challenge faced by current LLMs: the absence of native web-based payment mechanisms. As a result, AI application developers often rely on outdated payment methods such as credit cards, leading to additional user costs.
To address this issue, Lightning Labs proposed the creation of software that can charge for access to application programming interfaces (APIs), facilitating communication between different software components.
The firm provided an example of an AI software or agent that queries another agent on a paid basis. The querying agent would pay for API access to the agent being queried, with additional payments occurring only after receiving a satisfactory response.
Lightning Labs highlighted the limitations faced by the growing class of intelligent LLMs or AI agents. These entities struggle to access fiat payment systems as they are not registered entities within any nation.
Kody Low, a developer at the community payments platform Fedi, emphasized the interoperability between AI and Bitcoin for payments during an episode of the “Stack Sats” podcast. Low stated that Bitcoin offers unparalleled solutions for AI companies’ monetization challenges.
Data from LN analytics platform 1ML shows that the Lightning Network’s current capacity is approximately 5,448 BTC ($144.9 million). However, the number of Lightning Network channels has declined from around 80,000 in July 2022 to about 70,000 presently, according to Bitcoin Visuals.