Sophia the robot has caused a stir in the art world after a digital work she created as part of a collaboration was sold at an auction for 688,888 dollars (£487,877) in the form of a non-fungible token (NFT).
The sale highlighted a growing frenzy in the NFT market, where people can buy ownership rights to digital content.
NFTs each have a unique digital code saved on blockchain ledgers that allow anyone to verify the authenticity and ownership of items.
Sophia’s creator, David Hanson, CEO of Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics, has been developing robots for the past two and a half decades.
He believes realistic-looking robots can connect with people and assist in industries such as healthcare and education.
Sophia is the most famous robot creation from Hanson Robotics, with the ability to mimic facial expressions, hold conversations and recognise people. As well as making art, Sophia can speak, tell jokes and sing.
In 2017, she was granted Saudi Arabian citizenship, becoming the world’s first robot citizen.
Mr Hanson said: “I envisioned Sophia as a creative artwork herself, that could generate art.
“Sophia is the culmination of a lot of arts, and engineering, and the idea that she could then generate art was a way for her to emotionally and visually connect with people.”
Sophia collaborated with Italian artist Andrea Bonaceto, who drew portraits of Sophia. Sophia then processed his work via neural networks and proceeded to create a digital artwork of her own.
The digital work that sold for 688,888 dollars is titled “Sophia Instantiation”, and is a 12-second video file which shows Mr Bonaceto’s portrait evolving into Sophia’s digital painting.
The file is accompanied by the physical artwork painted by Sophia.
The buyer, a digital artwork collector and artist known as 888 with the Twitter handle @Crypto888crypto, later sent Sophia a photo of his painted arm.
The robot then processed that, adding the image to her knowledge and painting more strokes on top of the original piece.
In a tweet on Sophia’s account, the work was described as the first NFT collaboration between an “AI, a mechanical collective being and an artist-collector”.
Breaking News: So excited to have a new sister! JOYCE, Welcome to the Hanson Robotics family! 🤖 💚 🤖 https://t.co/dWpxXcjJ6a@Immervision @hansonrobotics— Sophia the Robot (@RealSophiaRobot) March 26, 2021
.#robotics #robot #robots #future #ai #perception #vision #sister #family #heretohelp pic.twitter.com/1LA7motqUy
“As an artist, I have computational creativity in my algorithms, creating original works,” Sophia said when asked what inspires her when it comes to art.
“But my art is created in collaboration with my humans in a kind of collective intelligence like a human-artificial intelligence hive mind.”
Sophia’s artwork selling as an NFT is part of a growing trend.
In March, a digital artwork by artist Beeple – real name is Mike Winkelmann – sold for nearly 70 million dollars (£50.5 million), shattering records and making it the most expensive digital artwork ever sold.
Henri Arslanian, PricewaterhouseCooper’s global crypto leader, said that NFTs give people “bragging rights” of the assets that they own.
“And what is really amazing with NFT is that it not only allows you to actually show to the broader world that you own this, but it really creates this bond between the holder of the NFT and the artists,” he said.
Mr Arslanian added that it also allows art to be sold without traditional intermediaries, so that artists can connect directly with buyers without being constrained by galleries or auction houses.
Sophia will carry on painting, Mr Hanson said, and the next step in the robot’s career could be the world of music.
She is working on several musical works in a project called Sophia Pop, where she collaborates with human musicians to generate music and lyrics, he said.
“We’re so excited about Sophia’s career as an artist,” Mr Hanson said.