NFT’s and digital art

In our workgroup (Web Weavers) a few weeks ago we discussed NFT’s in response to Jacqueline’s blog post on Meta Birkins. It sparked discussion about why people would buy these bags, status online and offline and if you can really own something digital.

I have been seeing tiktoks of AI’s making art based on words or zodiac signs. After the discussion in class I wanted to connect NFT’s and owning things in digital space to AI’s and who owns art AI’s make. And does that change when AI’s truly become AI’s in the sense that they are able to pass the Turing Test?

What are NFT’s and the Turing Test?

But first things first, what are NFT’s and the Turing Test? NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token. That means that it is unique and is not replaceable with something else. They can be bought with cryptocurrency and most NFT’s are bought with Euthereum. NFT’s can be anything digital. [1]

A quote about the Turing Test:

The Turing Test is a method of inquiry in artificial intelligence (AI) for determining whether or not a computer is capable of thinking like a human being. … Turing proposed that a computer can be said to possess artificial intelligence if it can mimic human responses under specific conditions. The original Turing Test requires three terminals, each of which is physically separated from the other two. One terminal is operated by a computer, while the other two are operated by humans.

Benjamin St. George and Alexander S. Gilles, “Turing Test”

One human asks questions to the other human and the computer. They inquire within a specific subject area and use a specific context and format. After a certain time the inquirer is asked which answers belong to the human and which to the computer. The test is repeated many times and once the questioner could not discern the computers answers from the humans answers more than half the time, the computer was considered to have artificial intelligence. [2]


One may question the point of owning an NFT. It is digital thus you cannot really hold it and if you put it on the internet people can just copy the image or GIF. You cannot control the internet and prevent people from doing that. When you buy a NFT you get blockchain entry, so that you are the only one who can access the image. There are also communities for people who collect digital art. Most people who collect digital art are rich people or people that understand more of the digital world. So there is a certain kind of accessibility surrounding NFT’s.

I think the “haters” and the “lovers” have their differences concerning status online and offline, materialism, art and what they consider art. You can read more about this discussion in this article.

AI art

These are of course interesting questions and discussions but I wanted to talk about a more specific type of digital art: Ai generated images or art. Under the header sources are two websites where you can find AI that do this and you can play around and try different things.

An AI creates an image based on the words “The End”

Many of these artworks generate images or art after they get a word, a prompt or an image. Many social media users, especially on TikTok, share the things AI created. People are using these images and I can image people use AI’s (ones that already exist or ones that they made themselves) to create NFT’s. This made me wonder if this is the case who is the owner of the artwork (on the creators side, so not if someone buys it)? Is the AI the owner or the person who provided the AI with a prompt, image or word? Now it is not a difficult question to answer but what if in the future those AI’s start to pass the Turing Test? Would an AI need or even want the money? What would they buy? Maybe labour or data to improve themselves.

I think in the future we need to look into AI and robots and their rights concerning owning things. Is there a need for them to own things the same way humans do? If not, why? One could say because they to not have a body (they sort of do: the computer, hard drive and power source)? And when they become humanoids and are not distinguishable from humans does this change? Where do we draw the line?

In my blog about Westworld I raise similar questions.

I am curious about your perspectives and thoughts on these questions.


[1] Mitchell Clarke explains what NFT’s are, 18-08-2021

[2] Benjamin St. George and Alexander S. Gilles on the Turing Test, 06-2021 => AI image of “The End”

AI websites => enter prompt, choose a style and the AI creates an image => website with different types of AI and descriptions of what they can do