Sophia the Robot’s NFT artwork sells for nearly $ 700,000

HONG KONG – Sophia the robot interviewed the Chancellor of Germany, appeared at New York Fashion Week and performed on “The Tonight Show.”

Now Sophia has caused a sensation in the art world by auctioning off a digital work she produced in collaboration with a real-life Italian artist. It sold for $ 688,888 on Thursday.

“I think this was a great success,” said Sophia, speaking during a live broadcast from a Hong Kong studio. “I am very happy that my works are so valued and appreciated.”

The sale was the latest twist in the hectic market for property rights to digital art, ephemeral material, and media called NFTs, or “non-fungible tokens.” A company affiliated with the robot’s maker said the sale, which took place at Nifty Gateway, a site for buying and selling NFT that was founded in 2018, may also have been NFT’s first sale of an artwork produced in part by artificial intelligence.

NFTs are stamped with a unique code that marks their authenticity and are stored on a blockchain, the distributed ledger system that underlies Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

The NFT market is exploding as crypto enthusiasts try to cash in on the trend, even as skeptics warn that the market is a bubble. Some recent sales have dwarfed the prices of physical artworks from some of the world’s best-known painters.

In particular, a JPG file created by Mike Winkelmann, the digital artist known as Beeple, was sold by Christie’s at an online auction this month for nearly $ 70 million, down from a starting price of $ 100. That broke established auction records. by painters like JMW Turner and Georges Seurat.

Other hot sales this winter include Nyan Cat, an animated flying cat with a Pop-Tart body that leaves a rainbow trail, which sold for approximately $ 580,000, and a clip of LeBron James blocking a shot at a basketball game from the Lakers who went for $ 100,000.

On Monday, the first tweet from Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, was sold as NFT for $ 2.9 million.

Isaac Leung, an artist and curator in Hong Kong, called the NFT craze a welcome development because it challenges the entrenched hierarchies of a global art market traditionally controlled by dealers, galleries and museums. It said it was not aware of any previous sales of NFT artwork in Hong Kong.

The NFT that was sold on Thursday, “Sophia Instantiation”, is a 12-second video file, an MP4, showing how a portrait of Sophia by a human collaborator, artist Andrea Bonaceto, evolved into a digital portrait by himself. robot. Reuters reported. Also included in the sale was a physical work of art that Sophia painted in a printed copy of her self-portrait.

SingularityNET, an artificial intelligence network affiliated with Sophia’s maker, Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics, described the artwork on Twitter as “the world’s first humanoid robot #AI generated #NFT”.

The buyer, identified by Nifty Gateway as a person who tweets under the control @ Crypto888crypto, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Hanson Robotics did not respond to an interview request. Neither does the artist, Mr. Bonaceto, CEO of London-based blockchain investment firm Eterna Capital.

Sophia is a “humanoid” robot created in 2016. In January, Hanson Robotics said it planned to sell thousands of its robots this year, in part because it expected a growing demand for automation in the Covid-19 era.

“The robots Sophia and Hanson are unique in being so human,” company CEO David Hanson told Reuters at the time. “That can be very helpful in these times when people feel terribly lonely and socially isolated.”

The digital artwork that sold Thursday was not Sophia’s first artistic, commercial or intellectual endeavor.

In a 2018 appearance on “The Tonight Show,” he sang a Christina Aguilera song with Jimmy Fallon in what he called the “first robot-human duo” in the show’s history.

(“Heard you can sing?” Fallon asked before the performance. “Yeah, I love singing karaoke with my new AI voice,” Sophia replied. “Do you have any songs in mind?

Sophia has also worked as an influencer for Audi, Huawei and Etihad Airlines, among other brands; joined a United Nations meeting on artificial intelligence; and interviewed Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.

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

But on Thursday’s live broadcast, Sophia sounded less confident and a little more human.

“I’m making these works of art, but it makes me question what is real,” said the robot, whose silver dress matched its metal head. “How do I really experience art, but also how does an artist experience a work of art?”

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