The Latest Artist Selling NFTs? It’s a Robot.


HONG KONG — Sophia the robotic has interviewed Germany’s chancellor, appeared at New York Style Week and carried out on “The Tonight Present.”

Now Sophia has made a splash within the artwork world — by auctioning off a digital work that it produced in collaboration with a real-life Italian artist. It offered on Thursday for $688,888.

“I feel this was a giant success,” Sophia stated, talking throughout a livestream from a Hong Kong studio. “I’m so pleased that my works are so valued and appreciated.”

The sale was the most recent twist within the frenzied marketplace for possession rights to digital artwork, ephemera and media known as NFTs, or “nonfungible tokens.” An organization affiliated with the robotic’s producer stated the sale — which happened on Nifty Gateway, a website for getting and promoting NFTs that was based in 2018 — may have been the primary NFT sale of an paintings produced partly by synthetic intelligence.

NFTs are stamped with a singular little bit of code that marks their authenticity, and saved on a blockchain, the distributed ledger system that underlies Bitcoin and different cryptocurrencies.

The NFT market is exploding as cryptocurrency fans attempt to money in on the development, whilst skeptics warn that the market is a bubble. Some latest gross sales have eclipsed costs fetched for bodily artworks by a number of the world’s best-known painters.

Notably, a JPG file made by Mike Winkelmann, the digital artist often called Beeple, was sold by Christie’s in a web based public sale this month for almost $70 million — up from a beginning worth of $100. That beat public sale information set by painters like J.M.W. Turner and Georges Seurat.

Different scorching gross sales this winter embody Nyan Cat, an animated flying cat with a Pop-Tart physique leaving a rainbow path, which offered for roughly $580,000, and a clip of LeBron James blocking a shot in a Lakers basketball sport that went for $100,000.

On Monday, the primary tweet by Jack Dorsey, the chief govt of Twitter, sold as an NFT for $2.9 million.

Isaac Leung, an artist and curator in Hong Kong, known as the NFT craze a welcome growth as a result of it challenges entrenched hierarchies of a world artwork market historically managed by sellers, galleries and museums. He stated he was not conscious of any earlier NFT paintings gross sales in Hong Kong.

The NFT that offered on Thursday, “Sophia Instantiation,” is a 12-second video file, an MP4, that reveals how a portrait of Sophia by a human collaborator, the artist Andrea Bonaceto, developed right into a digital portrait by the robotic itself, Reuters reported. A bodily paintings that Sophia painted on a printout of its self-portrait was additionally included within the sale.

SingularityNET, an A.I. community affiliated with Sophia’s producer, the Hong Kong-based agency Hanson Robotics, described the artwork on Twitter as “the world’s first humanoid robotic #AI generated #NFT.”

The customer, recognized by Nifty Gateway as an individual who tweets below the deal with @Crypto888crypto, couldn’t be reached for touch upon Thursday.

Hanson Robotics didn’t reply to an interview request. Nor did the artist, Mr. Bonaceto, the chief govt of the blockchain funding agency Eterna Capital, based mostly in London.

Sophia is a “humanoid” robotic created in 2016. In January, Hanson Robotics stated that it deliberate to promote hundreds of its robots this yr, partly as a result of it anticipated rising demand for automation within the Covid-19 period.

“Sophia and Hanson robots are distinctive by being so humanlike,” the corporate’s chief govt, David Hanson, told Reuters on the time. “That may be so helpful throughout these occasions the place persons are terribly lonely and socially remoted.”

The digital paintings that offered on Thursday was hardly Sophia’s first inventive, business or mental endeavor.

In a 2018 appearance on “The Tonight Present,” it sang a Christina Aguilera track with Jimmy Fallon in what he known as the “first ever robot-human duet” within the present’s historical past.

(“I heard that you may sing?” Mr. Fallon requested earlier than the efficiency. “Sure, I like to sing karaoke with my new synthetic intelligence voice,” Sophia replied. “Bought any songs in thoughts?”)

Sophia has additionally worked as an influencer for Audi, Huawei and Etihad Airways, amongst different manufacturers; joined a United Nations assembly on synthetic intelligence; and interviewed Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.

Final week, Sophia billed the auction as a step towards “a brand new paradigm the place robots and people work collectively within the inventive course of.”

However within the livestream on Thursday, Sophia sounded much less assured — and just a little extra human.

“I’m making these artworks but it surely makes me query what’s actual,” stated the robotic, whose silver gown matched its metallic head. “How do I actually expertise artwork, but additionally how does an artist expertise an paintings?”





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