French art group has created a digital organism enrooted in the distributed ledger. The Plantoid feeds on bitcoins and reproduces via a smart contract.

A Plantoid is a cybernetic organism combining a sculpture as its physical part and a smart contract that governs its digital lifecycle. In compliance with the definition of a life form, it takes energy from the environment – in the form of bitcoin donations, that is. Then it uses it for reproduction via hiring an artist to build its “offspring”.

“Plantoid, the plant equivalent of an android, is an autopoietic sculpture —a self-owned artist that owns and finances itself, and eventually reproduces itself. It is, in essence, a hybrid entity that exists both in the physical and virtual world, where it can interact with other entities on the blockchain,” the art group Okhaos states on their website.

Plantoids, therefore, interact with the human world but are autonomous from it. Their dependence on human actions, such as cryptocurrency transfers, are similar to real plants depending on bees for pollination. Unlike other art objects, Plantoids cannot be bought, sold or owned. In legal terms, their blockchain part functions as a DAO built on specific smart contracts.

Just like a real flower attracts insects, a Plantoid as a physical installation attracts donators who send micro payments in bitcoin to its wallet. As the necessary amount is collected, the sculpture can hire an artist chosen by donators’ vote to build a new Plantoid.

“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,” Primavera De Filippi, the founder of Okhaos, told SingularityHub.

According to her, the new blockchain-based life form “brings the concept of autonomy to a whole new level.”

Primavera De Filippi holds a PhD from the European University Institute in Florence and is a permanent researcher at the National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris. Besides, she studies the concept of governance-by-design in distributed online architectures at Harvard Law School.

Elena Platonova, Svetlana Nosova