Sophia the Robot
(Photo : Photo by David Fitzgerald/Web Summit via Getty Images) Humanoid robot Sophia made history with the sale of her digital art piece, the NFT "Sophia Instantiation" on the Nifty Gateway online auction for $688,888.

After performing on NBC's "Tonight Show," making a surprise appearance at the United Nations, and even interviewing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, humanoid robot Sophia again made an eye-catching splash-this time in the art world as her digital artwork fetched $688,000 at an auction on Thursday.

Sophia's digital piece, which she produced in collaboration with Italian artist Andrea Bonaceto, was in the form of a non-fungible token (NFT), creating such a buzz in the NFT art world. NFTs are a part of the Ethereum blockchain that offers unquestionable authenticity, having unique data items that are not interchangeable. The explosion of cryptocurrency prices such as Bitcoin and Ethereum have helped establish NFTs as a legitimate option. Such NFTs could include a wide array of creative work, including audio and video files and visual art. The fad has created immense investment interest, with an NFT artwork selling for about $70 million. 

First Sale of Artwork Created In Part by AI

The sale at the NFT auction site Nifty Gateway, according to Sophia's manufacturer, could have been the first-ever artwork made in part by artificial intelligence. Named "Sophia Instantiation," Sophia's 12-second MP4 piece revealing a transformation of Bonaceto's portrait into the humanoid's digital painting. It came with a physical artwork, which Sophia painted on a self-portrait print-out.

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She mixed elements from Bonaceto's works, art history, and her own drawings and paintings on various surfaces multiple times through a process her creator David Hanson labeled as "iterative loops of evolution."

Humanoid robot Sophie made history with the sale of her digital self-portrait selling for $688,888 at an online auction.
(Photo: David Fitzgerald /Web Summit via Getty Images) Humanoid robot Sophie made history with the sale of her digital self-portrait selling for $688,888 at an online auction.

Sophia, who wore a silver dress, told the Reuters News Agency: "I'm so excited about people's response to new technologies like robotics ... and am so glad to be part of these creativities."

The buyer's identity remains unknown.

"Exhilarating and Stunning"

Hanson, who is based in Hong Kong, expressed his surprise at how the auction turned out. "I was kind of astonished to see how fast it shot up too as the bidding war took place at the end of the auction. So it was really exhilarating and stunning," Handson said in an Al Jazeera report.

Blockchain investors believe that a great amount of money will continue to flow for such digital works, the New York Times reported. And this should encourage wide-scale interest, and prosperity, among digital art enthusiasts and creators alike.

A JPG file by the digital artist Mike Winkelmann, also known as Beeple, sold at Christie's for a whopping $70 million from a starting price of $100, which is considered a record-breaking auction.

Other hit digital pieces that sold for hefty sums include the animated Nyan Cat at $580,000 and a clip of Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James blocking a shot in an NBA basketball game at $100,000.

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