Botto: How much do we depend on humans to create art?

The technological revolution is getting faster and faster. Artificial intelligence is no longer science fiction and has become part of our lives. It is common, while browsing Twitter or even Linkedin, to see illustrators and artists testing AI tools, such as Midjourney, Stable Diffusion and DALL-E, for example.


However, it is necessary to talk about the impact of this technological advance also in the artistic environment. Are artists threatened by AI or are they taking advantage of the moment to rediscover how to make art?

Botto is already among us, a robot artist who uses AI to generate images. It was created by the German artist Mario Klingemann and is governed by humans, through a DAO, a decentralized community controlled by computational algorithms. Each week, Art Tech submits 350 artworks to its community, which then votes for their favorite. The votes are used as feedback for Botto’s generative algorithm, guiding which direction he should take in his next artistic series.

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Robot. Image: Nature – YouTube

The community-chosen piece is put up for auction on SuperRare, an Ethereum-based NFTs marketplace. The proceeds go back to the community as follows: 30% goes to the DAO treasury, 30% is made available as AirDrop, 20% goes to a liquidity mining program, and 20% goes to project infrastructure. It is worth mentioning that 52 pieces of art are already scheduled over 52 weeks. The first was minted on October 22, 2021, on SuperRare. The auction took in about $325,000.

But how does the technology work?

The technology uses a combination of software models, called VQGAN + CLIP, GPT-3, which generate images from sentences. These programs are neural network architectures that analyze millions of artworks, faces, animals, objects, images, artistic movements, poems, among others. They were configured to absorb content quickly, in a way that no human would be able to, even if they studied all their lives.

An important rule is that the tool does not accept human interference in the creation process. Furthermore, the platform is against any “cheating” or human orientation other than voting for the choice of the next series.

To manage governance and votes, the project launched the BOTTO token. It is from this that an investor can help in the valuation. However, if you want to participate in the art creation process, you will have to exchange the BOTTO for a VP (Voting Power). In this way, the person will have free access to give an opinion on the making of the next arts.

Many artists spend their lives trying to sell their work like Botto. During its first year of life, the robot raised more than 1.5 million dollars, far more than many poets, writers, painters and film directors. It is easy to see that with artificial intelligence, a fierce competition between humans and robots will also extend to the arts.

Botto’s arrival can be synonymous with collaborative expression and innovation, or also a frightening demonstration of how technology can take our places in many ways.

We remain vigilant.

Luciano Mathias is CCO of TRIO

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