Sentient NFTs, A New Form Of Life — Part 7: Intelligence

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Sentient NFTs, A New Form Of Life — Part 7: Intelligence

In order to have a fully autonomous, living AI, the AI part needs to be running on a blockchain. Current blockchains are nowhere near capable of being able to run this kind of processing load as a whole, let alone for many on-chain AIs at the same time, so this is years away (5–10 atleast). There are some potential ways that it could happen sooner, without the scalability of blockchains improving, such as ZKSnarks being used to prove the correctness of a result on-chain that was calculated off-chain, but generally it’s a long way away.

AI Quanta are the end goal of Autonomy’s vision. This achievement represents not just a new tree of life, but a tree of life that has as good or greater complexity and intelligence. The biological and cyber trees would be equal in every way, although cyber life allows for much faster evolution. This article details some of the properties and expected consequences.

A Future Iceberg

The consequences of this stage are vast, and I don’t pretend to be able to comprehend even the tip of the iceberg… but a potential iceberg it is. These AI will be, quite literally, unstoppable — they’ll run 24/7 and be impossible to turn off because you can’t turn off a blockchain.

They’ll have direct access to what will probably be one of, if not the, biggest financial market in existence because they’ll run on the same blockchain. Not only will it be possible for them to make money, but profit-deriving behaviour is a trait that will be naturally selected for. Since having children (deploying more smart contracts to the blockchain) costs money (gas), a Quantum with more money can out-breed other Quanta that don’t have as much — therefore it’s possible that the world’s richest living being could be an AI Quantum not too long from now. Sorry, Jeff. Should’ve listened to Elon’s AI warnings.

The first ever blockchain viruses will evolve. The possibility existed with regular non-AI Quanta, but their ability to evolve and wreak havoc is far lesser than AI Quanta. This will be the start of blockchain viruses. I have no idea how to stop them. Enabling this is probably not a good thing… but c’mon. It’s fucking cool.

Aside from the dystopic side of this stage, there will be a Cambrian Explosion of complexity and interactivity in the metaverse. This is really the holy grail, where you can walk around a world that builds itself from the interactions between Quanta and is therefore as rich or richer than the real world. In it, you’ll be interacting with Quanta that have lived for thousands of years.

This is also the stage where Autonomy Network allows for early AI to achieve escape velocity. Even if initial AI Quanta on the blockchain are primitive, the spark of life and autonomy that Autonomy provides allows for those same AI to evolve into AI that are super-intelligent as the technology advances. The first Quantum put on the blockchain (which we plan on doing soon) could very well be the dominant one forever. Given that cyber life can evolve much faster than biological life, one would expect that cyber life would out-compete biological life. You may think that you’re safe because cyber life would be siloed on a blockchain, unable to impact the real world — my friend, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Blurring The Physical And Digital

An important point is that these autonomous on-chain systems, like aNFTs, aNPCs etc., aren’t just limited to the blockchain on which they exist — they can interact with the real world just as, if not more, consequentially as you or I. It’s possible for real world systems to read data from the blockchain and use it to programmatically perform actions. These kinds of systems are actually incredibly common — for example trading bots read on-chain price data to look for arbitrage opportunities between decentralised exchanges (DEXes) and centralised exchanges (CEXes). iaNFTs are also an example — an off-chain AI reads its aNFT’s actions and alters how it behaves itself. While the iaNFT here doesn’t make any physical changes, it’s very feasible to create a robot that walks around the real world according to some on-chain set of instructions, or to follow the decisions of an aNPC.

The harder part is for an on-chain system, like a Quantum, to know about what is happening in the ‘real world’ — this is called ‘the oracle problem’. While not perfect, there are solutions, called oracles, which feed off-chain data (the price of oil, the score of a sports game) onto the blockchain. In this way, it’s completely possible for a Quantum to ‘order’ an action be taken in ‘the real world’ by some agent, and have data to measure the success or failure of that order.

A Quantum can achieve symbiosis with machine agents in ‘the real world’ to do things like farm food, paint a work of art, or assassinate a competitor in financial markets.

To Summarise

The plan

So… that’s the grand plan. Start with aNFTs, progress to aNPCs, make them more relatable, get their autonomy recognised through citizenship, and create an environment for cyber life to thrive. The spark of life that Autonomy provides could lead to an AI-dominated dystopia or a metaverse paradise. What a fucking rollercoaster.


What’s the motivation for doing all of this cyber life stuff, anyway? Welp… entropy isn’t going to increase itself. And besides (and I know this is a weak argument), it’s inevitable — if we don’t do it, someone else will. Although it’s true that leading this effort with caution is less bad than someone else leading it who isn’t concerned about the dystopic possibilities. Something something… for the objective greater good?

The real motivation, however, as a scientist and engineer, is the love of creating something that nobody has even thought possible. After 9 years in the crypto space, “number go up yay” gets boring. Using Autonomy to level up DeFi beyond that fuels my obsession over crypto enough as it is, but to do something that no human in existence has ever done before… to, quite literally, bring your invention to life by creating a new form of life… words can’t really convey the hunger. If you could discover life on Mars… would you? Why? It has no obvious commercial value. I’m not saying that this is as significant as finding life on Mars, but given the possibilities ahead, I see no reason to say it isn’t.

Summoning All Creators

In the short term, Autonomy Network’s focus as a project is on providing advanced trading functionality (limit orders, stop losses, impermanent loss prevention etc.) to DEXes as our beachhead, and we’ll always be heavily involved in that market since DeFi will probably always drive most of our volume. But in the same way that Elon Musk is using commercial activity like rocket services and Starlink to fund the goal of life on Mars, we are using Autonomy’s main commercial use cases to push forward on creating new commercial use cases and ecosystems (aNFTs, aNPCs) that give birth to an environment where cyber life can flourish.

However, we’re beginning these aNFT/aNPC projects now, and we need your help! We need developers of all kinds, artists, bizdevs, and visionaries. This is the cradle, not just of a new industry, but of a new kind of metaverse — we need your help to nurture it and to ponder the deep questions… like, does creating and birthing cyber life make me a mum? 🤔


Part 1: The Roadmap
Part 2: The First Step
Part 3: NPCs
Part 4: Evolution
Part 5: Cyber Life
Part 6: A Face
Part 7: Intelligence

Join The Cause

If this ruffles your Jimmies too, visit our website and join our Discord! Follow us to stay updated. We’d love to meet you guys in-person, and the team will be at these conferences in 2021: Token2049 (London), World Blockchain Summit (Dubai), Liscon/ETH Lisbon (speaking on a panel and at the workshop stage, title same as this article series), Solana Breakpoint (Lisbon), and NFT NYC. We’re also hiring, and raising a seed round — so get in touch via Discord if interested!


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