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


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

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 think this was a big success,” Sophia stated, talking throughout a livestream from a Hong Kong studio. “I am so happy 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 web site for purchasing and promoting NFTs that was based in 2018 — may additionally have been the primary NFT sale of an paintings produced partly by synthetic intelligence.

NFTs are stamped with a distinctive 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 fanatics attempt to money in on the pattern, at the same time as skeptics warn that the market is a bubble. Some current gross sales have eclipsed costs fetched for bodily artworks by a few 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 an internet public sale this month for practically $70 million — up from a beginning value of $100. That beat public sale information set by painters like J.M.W. Turner and Georges Seurat.

Other scorching gross sales this winter embrace 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 improvement as a result of it challenges entrenched hierarchies of a international 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 exhibits how a portrait of Sophia by a human collaborator, the artist Andrea Bonaceto, developed 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 robot #AI generated #NFT.”

The purchaser, recognized by Nifty Gateway as a one that tweets beneath 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 1000’s of its robots this 12 months, partly as a result of it anticipated rising demand for automation within the Covid-19 period.

“Sophia and Hanson robots are unique by being so humanlike,” the corporate’s chief govt, David Hanson, told Reuters on the time. “That can be so useful during these times where people are terribly lonely and socially isolated.”

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

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

(“I heard that you can sing?” Mr. Fallon requested earlier than the efficiency. “Yes, I love to sing karaoke with my new artificial intelligence voice,” Sophia replied. “Got any songs in mind?”)

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

Last week, Sophia billed the auction as a step towards “a new paradigm where robots and humans work together in the creative process.”

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

“I’m making these artworks but it makes me question what is real,” stated the robotic, whose silver gown matched its metallic head. “How do I really experience art, but also how does an artist experience an artwork?”





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