"Digital Plants" Are the First Blockchain-Based Artificial Life Form

This project could show how Bitcoin may transform automated services, by making them truly independent from humans.

 by Brad Jones
Image by Plantoid

Money Tree

Blockchain technology has helped the likes of Ether and Bitcoin become viable currencies, but it's capable of doing much more than simply maintaining a digital ledger. A new project aims to demonstrate that fact by blurring the lines between technology and nature, via a brand new species known as the Plantoid.

In the physical world, a Plantoid is a mass of welded metal and electronic components intended to look like an android version of a plant. In the digital world, it's a piece of software living on the blockchain that its creators refer to as its "soul."

Image Credit: Okhaos.

The reasoning behind this design is that the Plantoid reproduces itself via transactions made on the blockchain. Just as flowers in the natural world attract bees to help them procreate, the Plantoid does the same with human beings.

The artistic design of a Plantoid is intended to catch the eye of human observers, and convince them to donate money to the project via Bitcoin. This cash is then used to commission an artist to produce a brand new Plantoid, with the whole process being automated using smart contracts.

"Plantoid is an attempt at using art to illustrate what I consider to be one of the most innovative and disruptive aspects of the blockchain — the ability to create autonomous entities which are completely independent and self-sufficient," its creator Primavera de Filippi told SingularityHub. De Filippi is a faculty associate at Harvard's Berkman-Klein Center and the founder of Okhaos, the art collective responsible for the project.

Distributed Autonomous Organization

The Plantoid is one example of a distributed autonomous organization (DAO), a concept that could utilize the blockchain to fundamentally change the world we live in.

A Plantoid is essentially self-sufficient, only interacting with humans when it needs to secure donations or commission a new version of itself. This same basic idea could be expanded to all kinds of different applications.

Imagine an automated farm that doesn't require any human management. Imagine public works projects that are entirely based around smart contracts, with humans only called upon for tax money and manpower.

The blockchain is becoming sophisticated enough to underpin all manner of different implementations. The Plantoid project is exploratory and experimental, but it may well set a precedent for more practical usage.

The shift from fiat currency to digital money is one huge change being brought about by the blockchain. However, its greater impact might come from its capacity to make digital entities truly independent, which could have a profound impact on automated services.

Disclosure: Several members of the Futurism team, including the editors of this piece, are personal investors in a number of cryptocurrency markets. Their personal investment perspectives have no impact on editorial content.

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