Jezebel formally canceled Sophia the robot in 2019, but—in case you needed further evidence that cancel culture often has no lasting material consequences for its supposed victims—her career continues to flourish.
According to the Associated Press, Sophia recently sold a piece of her own (??) digital artwork (???) as a non-fungible token for close to $700,000. The NFT is the result of a collaboration with Italian artist Andrea Bonaceto, who drew portraits of Sophia that she then used as the basis for a digital self-portrait. The final work, titled “Sophia Instantiation,” takes the form of a 12-second MP4 that documents the evolution of Bonaceto’s rendering into Sophia’s digital painting; the NFT also includes a physical artwork Sophia painted on a print-out of the original piece. The buyer is an anonymous digital artwork collector only known by their Twitter handle @Crypto888crypto, who later sent Sophia a photo of his painted arm, an image she then incorporated into her neural network and used to add more strokes to her physical painting.
“As an artist, I have computational creativity in my algorithms, creating original works,” Sophia told the AP in an interview, of her recent art sale. “But my art is created in collaboration with my humans in a kind of collective intelligence like a human-artificial intelligence hive mind.”
If, up until now, you’ve been avoiding learning about what an “NFT” is—an understandable impulse—I urge you to read no further. Because, alas, here I go explaining: An NFT is a unique digital asset that allows works of art, video clips, or other digital files to be bought and sold on the blockchain. For example, someone recently paid $69 million for a digital collage by Michael Joseph Winkelmann, known popularly as Beeple.
So, no, Sophia the humanoid robot isn’t nearly as successful a digital artist as the actual human artist Beeple. But she is certainly far more successful than me, human writer and reporter Marie Solis, who has sold zero NFTs. (Perhaps you would like to purchase this blog?) Sophia is also reportedly “eyeing” a career in music, and is currently working on a project called “Sophia Pop,” which involves her collaborating with human musicians. Good for her!