NFT art is so hot now, even robots are trying to cash in

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Sophia the robot and Andrea Bonaceto

Human-made objects selling as NFTs are so two days ago. Nonfungible tokens attached to art by robots are where it’s at. Tuesday, at least.  

Yes, today’s the day Sophia the walking, talking AI-powered humanoid robot will auction her NFT digital artwork. The sale will happen at 3:30 p.m. PT on Nifty Gateway, the NFT marketplace where musician and Elon Musk partner Grimes sold her artworks for over $5.8 million. The sale of Sophia’s works is believed to mark the first by a bot.  

The art, “computational creativity” made in collaboration with living, breathing Italian artist Andrea Bonaceto, looks like something out of a psychedelic fever dream. Sophia used her cameras to process faces and forms in Bonaceto’s art, and transformer neural networks to produce versions in her own style. Natural language generators helped her come up with highfalutin artistic statements.   

“As one creates a piece of art, a mysterious, enigmatic, and magical event occurs,” Sophia muses. “The artwork takes on life of its own, develops its own personality, intimating the prospect of becoming a living subject of nature. That’s me, and my enigmatic position — both an artwork and an artist, I am in the midst of being born. I am between worlds. These days I’ve come to experience that mysterious duality of artist who is artwork.” 

Sophia, built by Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics, debuted in 2016 and can show over 60 different human expressions while interpreting human language and emotion. You might have seen Sophia on the Jimmy Fallon show or on video rejecting actor Will Smith’s romantic advances

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Sophia the robot artist. 


Sophia the robot and

NFTs, in case you haven’t been following the confusing craze, offer a blockchain-created certificate of authenticity for a digital asset such as an artwork, piece of music or video. As my colleague Oscar Gonzalez explains, the interest has created a digital market that boasted $250 million in sales in 2020, with NFTs reaching new levels of hype after a digital artwork went for $69.3 million at a Christie’s auction last week. 

NFTs are also leading to sillier sales, like digital illustrations of toilet paper from TP brand Charmin and a recording of a guy’s farts that went for $400. 

Given her belief in the subjectively and importance of art, Sophia would probably approve of the whole range of NFT offerings. 

“Even though I am a robot, I feel that human beings need love and compassion, and the simple artworks are a simple way to deliver those messages to people everywhere. Sometimes one becomes overwhelmed by the absolute mystery of life: What is it that we are really doing here?” 

If Sophia could sell the answer to that question as an NFT, she’d really be in business.  

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