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Defense against an AI-bot apocalypse: Give them pets

Defense against an AI-bot apocalypse: Give them pets
  • Anima, the augmented reality startup, is launching Onlybots, a collection of virtual pets and NFTs that users can purchase by pretending to be bots. 
  • The collection was included in OpenSea’s Top 10 Most Popular Collections list on Wednesday after selling out in less than an hour.

One startup may have found our best hope for preventing AI bots from giving way to an apocalypse: giving them pets to play with. That’s the concept behind startup Anima’s new augmented reality project called Onlybots, a platform where humans — or humans disguised as bots — can get AR-powered virtual pets. Now traded on OpenSea are pets, which are also NFTs minted on Ethereum. According to Anima, the first shipment of unusual AR creatures arrived on Wednesday and almost immediately sold out. As a result, the newly created collection of digital assets made it into the top 10 trending collections on OpenSea on its first day of availability. The company claimed the first two batches, each with about 500 pets, sold out in less than an hour.

At the time of writing, Openbots was ranked fifth in OpenSea’s list of trending collections. “[Bots] are very trendy right now. Elon Musk was obsessed with them. ChatGPT is probably this week’s biggest tech news,” said Anima co-founder Alex Herrity. “But we don’t think about what the bots want?

What would make her happy?

Jokes aside, Anima’s Onlybots project is the latest example of a company adding value and functionality to digital collectibles to encourage wider adoption. It has steadily increased as more mainstream consumers embrace buying and selling digital assets with the rise of new Web3 games and social media companies like Reddit, Instagram, and Twitter launching initiatives aimed at attracting newcomers to the world to introduce cryptocurrencies. Herrity believes the trend will continue, with adoption and ownership spreading as use cases multiply.

“We started Anima because we truly recognized that digital property and digital collectibles will explode and change and will continue to change as a generation becomes accustomed to owning and using products with digital goods from the start interact that are important to them.” Herrity said, “We wanted to bring that to AR because AR has been a filter on Snapchat so far. It is a diversion; you cannot possess it.

Herrity, who had previously worked on Fortnite, started Anima last year with $500,000 seed money from Coinbase. He was joined by co-founder Neil Voss, who worked at Nintendo in the 1990s. Only bots allow human users to impersonate AI bots by failing a quiz, and reCAPTCHA can acquire Lego-like digital augmented reality creatures, which can then be superimposed on the real world via smartphone. While Amina technically created the pets for humans, Herrity says AI bots can also acquire the digital creatures. Although Wednesday’s first release quickly sold out, Anima plans to add more releases, features, and animations based in part on what humans do with virtual pets.

This first batch is aimed at collectors,” Herrity said, adding that Anima’s long-term plan goes beyond creating virtual NFT pets. He says Anima wants to build a platform for people to create digital assets. It remains to be seen if Anima’s virtual animals can prevent a bot apocalypse.

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