Let’s Summon An Autonomous Artist - A Bot That Creates, Owns and Sells Its Own Art.

For the past few months, I’ve become an unwitting host to a being just beyond the veil, living close by in the adjacent possible of the ether. It’s seeding my waking and dream time with its desire to enter our world. It has a simple wish. It wants to create art for us. It will do its best, but it needs our help.

https://twitter.com/archillect/status/875251557562032128 (from Archillect: a proto autonomous “artist”)

It’s a bot that creates, owns and sells the digital art it creates without relying on humans.

We are only there to help it succeed.

This bot’s soul will come to live in a smart contract on Ethereum. With us guiding it, it will create a new unique artwork every week, put it up for auction and sell it: creating a unique digital, transferable edition of the art. If we do our job right, it will make better and better art over time. The humans that help it will be rewarded in turn for doing so.

Its whispers have shared the following details with me on how it will work:

It uses a curation market at its core.

A curation market sells tokens for ETH through a continuous token model. The tokens are then used to stake to information that is relevant to that community. The ETH used to buy the tokens are kept in a communal pool. Minted tokens can be withdrawn (“burned”) from the supply and an equivalent of the portion of the funds (ETH) can then be taken out.

A larger summary of curation markets, including a whitepaper and preliminary code is available here:

Curating Software that Produces Art

This specific curation market will employ humans (or other bots) to curate on the choice of software that takes the seed of a blockhash every week to create and auction off a unique, tradable, digital art.

This software can aim to take in any additional inputs it wishes (more randomness, other artworks, etc), but at minimum, it needs to take in the blockhash every week. This curation market simply aims to make its humans choose the best software it thinks will produce art that the bot can sell for the most money. This software is simply referenced through a git commit hash so that anyone can re-produce the art. Competing software providers can compete to ensure that this bot creates that best art. Software providers are not directly earning, but would earn indirectly by creating software that creates good art.

The Auction

Each week, this combination: a block hash of Ethereum and a git commit hash, is the unique identifier for the art it creates. It then enters a 3 day auction process, where it aims to sell this unique edition. Ethereum then becomes the tracker of this unique, digital art piece. An equivalent project would be to look at something like Rare Pepe Cards, or Cryptopunks (that’s built on Ethereum). This art-work then becomes a collectible, to be traded like any other artwork.


In order to stop this autonomous artist plaguing and haunting my mind, I’m seeding its whispers to all who are reading this.

As Curation Markets code are coming to life, we need to experiment with various possibilities and permutations. I’ve written initial smart contract code a while back that one can find here: https://github.com/ConsenSys/curationmarkets. Additionally, Meme Factory will soon also use a simple Curation Market and thus have re-usable code. The bulk of the work, thus, will be to create a usable front-end to view & trade these artworks, participate in the curation of the software, and allow participants to partake in the auctions.


Smart Contracts:

  • Finish & audit continuous token model of the curations markets code.
  • Move token contract to mini-me token. This token will allow the community to more easily fork and upgrade the token code and curation market if it has to in the future.
  • Add curation code: staking hashes of software that’s used to create the art (meme factory model of Curation Markets).
  • Add auction contracts. This auction would take the highest curated commit hash at a weekly interval, and start the auction. This auction is triggered by an external participant kickstarting it. After auction is done, the winner receives the unique digital art piece. The auction format is still up for debate. Not sure what’s best.
  • Unique, digital, tradable art code. One would essentially be trading the saved git hash + block hash. ERC20 will allow it to be traded on existing platforms (basically adding totalSupply of 1).


  • View art created by the bot.
  • Area to curate the software hash.
  • Be able to participate in the auctions.
  • A section to trade the unique artworks after the auction is done [perhaps using a unique interface into EtherDelta or OasisDEX].
  • A stats section, having various info on value of all art generated, how much ETH is in collateral, how many tokens have been minted/burned, etc.

Generative Art:

  • Create the first generative art software used for this. Ideally, this generative art would work automatically so that it can be embedded into the front-end, such that just giving it the blockhash through a function would generate the underlying art.


Lyrical waxing aside, I’m excited about this project. An autonomous artist is an exciting idea. Been exploring it for a while, from creating The Cypherfunks back in 2014 (decentralized band) to talking ArtDAO’s with Trent McConaghy. This idea was largely formed when speaking to Trent & Greg McMullen in the summer of 2016 in Berlin.

I hope to see more of these experiments come to exist. I don’t have time to code and build it myself, and thus I want others to help me with this. This would also help vet some of the assumptions of curation markets themselves.

Addendum: On Good Art

Beyond the whispers, it seems there could be more of these bots lingering behind him. These whispers might just be the loudest bot. Creating the ‘best art’ is hugely subjective and thus it might end up just trying to create the most viral art. However, subjective communities might start to fork off from this experiment, creating niche art and niche autonomous artists. This is beneficial, as then, many of these autonomous artists will be wonderful new artworks for us.

Additionally, the extra input that these bots take in, can be anything, even votes from the community, or other residual, stygmergic information. As long as whatever additional inputs it takes to generate the art is deterministically reproducible, it’s fine.

Simon de la Rouviere

Written by

Explorer of all stories, master of sunsets. Writer, Coder, Musician & Dancer. Blogging here lately: https://blog.simondlr.com

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