Cuba-based Alethea AI is a marketplace for NFT avatars

Just as we were looking at non-fungible tokens – the crypto tokens that represent a unique digital asset – they are now gaining in sensitivity and moving into the metaverse.

Some of the most well-known NFTs are unique avatars that people buy and sell, such as those in the CyberPunks series or Bored Monkey Yacht Club. But NFTs don’t to do a lot. Now Alethea AI, a new venture backed by entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, envelops avatars in the AI ​​that drives them, giving them conversational skills and knowledge. Collectively, the company calls it the “pod” or “soul” of the avatar, Alethea CEO Arif Khan tells me. Then these smart NFTs, or iNFTs, become something like chatbots that can be owned, trained, or sold. Khan says his company originally used OpenAI’s GPT-3 natural language model to give NFTs their speech and intelligence, but now uses an AI model he developed in-house.

“It’s a way to not only give an avatar personality, but to apply interactivity and make it expandable,” Cuban said in an email to Fast business. “You can take Alethea AI and let it grow into almost anything.” One of these NFTs, called “Alice”, already sold for $ 478,000 on Sotheby’s Natively Digital market in June.

Starting October 14, people can bring their NFT avatars to the new Alethea Site “Noah’s Ark”, where “soul” can be added. Khan says the AI ​​intelligence layer is contained in a new NFT which then binds to the avatar’s original NFT. Or, you can create your own smart NFT or iNFT from a number of templates.

The avatars I saw on the Alethea site included faithful recreations of well-known NFTs such as Bored Apes and CryptoPunks, literary and historical figures such as Edgar Allen Poe and Catherine the Great, and cartoon characters like Blanche. -Snow. The avatars’ facial movement wasn’t completely natural and smooth, and their vocal inflections seemed a bit labored, but it was good enough. I didn’t expect perfection from an NFT – not yet anyway.

I also watched Khan start a quick conversation with Hentai character Waifu 101. After exchanging a few jokes with the NFT, he asked him, “What’s the meaning of life? To that, she replied in a bored teenage voice, “I don’t like existentialism.” The fact that she linked Khan’s question to the philosophical movement shows an impressive level of common knowledge and conversational skills.

Alethea calls Noah’s Ark a metaverse because avatars can use their newfound skills to interact with other iNFTs there. For example, a CyberPunk might be trained to engage in a rap battle with a Bored Ape avatar. Or they can even form teams and compete against each other in games. Khan says that when avatars interact, they create new training data that feeds into the AI ​​model that feeds them all.

Alethea probably doesn’t expect to provide a versatile digital space that millions of people will use. Its technology is another way of approaching the creation of avatars that can represent us in the metaverse. It attaches value and provenance to avatars, and ties them directly to the blockchain. It might be a good thing if in five or ten years something like a metaverse starts to take shape and impact people’s lives.

At the moment, however, it’s not clear why an NFT speaking like Alice could be worth nearly half a million dollars. People in the crypto space often say that it’s best to buy NFTs because you love them and want to own them, but a price like this smacks of speculation and market timing, not the love.

Still, some big names in crypto see real value in Alethea’s contribution to the NFT. Cuban, along with Metapurse, Capital, Multicoin, Dapper Labs, and others, participated in a private crypto token sale to Alethea that generated $ 16 million.

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