The humanoid, Sophia, has co-created an NFT (Non- Fungible Token) artwork, Sophia Instantiation, sold at a whopping approx of $700K at an auction in Hong Kong. The winning bidder, 888, a mysterious digital artist, took home a 12-second MP4 file exhibiting the evolution process and a physical "self-portrait" of the robot. Earlier a graphic designer, Beeple, had sold a digital image valued at $69.3 million, the third most expensive sale ever of a living artist.
The ordeal of creation
The painting was created through the amalgamation of efforts of Andrea Bonaceto, Sophia and 888. Andrea is a partner at blockchain investment firm Eterna Capital and an artist, best known for his vectorial portraits of Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey. Bonaceto had created a portrait of Sophia, which the robot took images of, applied computer vision to analyze the face and forms; and transformer networks generated new imprints for the robotic arm to paint. The last step added inputs from 888.
What exactly are NFTs?
One of the recent Big-Bangs of the tech world is undoubtedly NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) which are mostly a part of the Ethereum (a cryptocurrency just like Bitcoin and Dogecoin) blockchain. Blockchain technology is used to digitally record transactions made by cryptocurrencies. Each transaction is a block and several transactions linked into a single list form a chain.
Investopedia defines Fungibility as:
The ability of a good or asset to be interchanged with other individual goods or assets of the same type. Fungible assets simplify the exchange and trade processes, as fungibility implies equal value between the assets.
Non-fungible thus means it has non-barter able value, unique. Thus, it is impossible for an NFT to be exchanged with another asset, as none has the same viable value. NFTs are pieces of digital art; they can be a JPEG, an MPEG, a GIF, a Tweet; with a digital certificate of ownership secured by blockchain technology.
A blooming field since 2019, when a French street artist took an image of his interpretation painting of a previous painting by master painter Eugene Delacroix and minted it as an NFT to make it memorable. However, the history of NFTs goes back to 2015- 16 when card game creators started issuing in-game assets such as game currencies, cards, memes etc. at Counterparty, a financial platform built on Bitcoin blockchain.
In 2017, Ethereum made a jump in the trend of memes trading. While TRON, the Chinese centric blockchain wasn't far from the game and successfully introduced their first NFT (standard TRC-721, which tracks ownership and movements of individual tokens in the block) on December 24th, 2020.
Are NFTs the future of artwork?
As an artist who creates and sells digital art, NFTs are a definite boon. They can enable the feature to get paid a percentage each time the NFT goes on sale. As a buyer, ownership rights are a reason to brag, and as price gallops and balloons each time, re-selling these assets increases your crypto wallet balance.
But as a known fact, cryptocurrency harms the environment and so the climate controversy regarding NFT is absolutely a decision-maker. NFT involves Ethereum blockchain technology, hence mining, thus energy consumption and greenhouse gases emission. It depends on the ultimate decision of whether the future will involve NFTs that do not work on blockchain technology; then it would mean a definite yes for the future of art.