The humanoid robot Sophia has put up an artwork she created in collaboration with Italian artist Andrea Bonaceto for auction. On Thursday, the painting was sold for $688,888 as an NFT. Bidding took place on the Nifty Gateway platform, the NFT marketplace that singer Grimes had previously chosen to sell her art. This is the first time in history that a humanoid robot with artificial intelligence raised money for the sale of an NFT.
NFT stands for “non-fungible token.” In essence, such tokens are records in the blockchain, a decentralized digital system that underlies cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. But unlike most tokens and cryptocurrencies, which are fungible, NFTs are unique. It is impossible to exchange them for equivalent tokens.
The artwork, titled Sophia Instantiation, was created by the robot together with Andrea Bonaceto, an artist and partner of blockchain investment company Eterna Capital. First, Bonaceto created a bright color portrait of Sophia, which was processed by the robot's neural networks. Sophia then drew an interpretation of this image.
The work, sold as an NFT on Thursday, is a 12-second MP4 video that shows how a human-made portrait of Sophia turned into a digital portrait made by the robot herself. The lot also included a physical representation of the work that Sofia created.
The self-portrait was created according to decisions that Sofia made without any human help, according to the auction site Nifty Gateway, which sold the artwork.
The buyer with a nickname Crypto888crypto tweeted after the purchase that he "got goosebumps" because of the painting. Sophia's official Twitter account replied that she did too.
In addition to Sophia's self-portrait, other artworks were also put up for sale. In particular, portraits of people involved in her creation. The self-portrait was sold in a single copy, while other works were sold in editions of 30 copies at $2,500 or $3,000 each. In total, Sofia managed to get more than a million dollars for her artwork.
Developed by the Hong Kong-based firm Hanson Robotics, Sophia the robot has gained worldwide fame for her ability to maintain a conversation, realistic movements, and complex facial expressions. Since being activated in 2016, she has appeared on talk shows, spoken at conferences, and even obtained Saudi Arabian citizenship, making her the first robot to have a nationality.
Hanson Robotics plans to start mass production of robots in the first half of 2021, including the humanoid robot, Sophia.