Trying to explain in simple terms what NFTs are is often a challenge. Getting your head around ‘non-fungible‘ is a hurdle that can take you down rabbit holes to end up with hundreds of words in your explainer, resulting in confusion and glazed eyes from your explainee.
Clever AI to the rescue!
I’ve been getting to know ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence language model in public preview from OpenAI, developer of the DALL-E generative art creator. It works interactively as you expect a chatbot to but on an entirely different level that’s genuinely conversational.
The dialogue format makes it possible for ChatGPT to answer followup questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests.Open AI
As part of my testing I decided to ask it to explain NFTs, a subject I’m actively involved with. My specific ask was this:
Explain non fungible tokens in simple terms
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are unique digital assets that represent ownership of a specific thing, such as a virtual collectible or a piece of art. They are called non-fungible because, unlike cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum, which are interchangeable and can be freely traded on a market, each NFT is one-of-a-kind and cannot be exchanged for something else of equal value.
Not bad at all! What’s especially good is that this entirely avoids earlier explainers about NFTs as digital art when, to most, that only what they were all about. ChatGPT’s response is a bit on the dry side but it certainly would give the Wikipedia definition I linked to at the start of this article a run for its money in terms of clarity and ability to elicit understanding (the Wikipedia entry is actually annotated “this article may be confusing or unclear to readers”).
Thinking about it, I wondered how someone like David Bowie would answer such a question. Why David Bowie? Well, he’s on my mind as I write this as I had watched again his amazingly prescient interview with the BBC in 1999 about the potential of the Internet and developments in technology.
And so I asked ChatGPT this:
Explain non-fungible tokens in the style of David Bowie
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are a revolution in digital ownership. They’re like nothing you’ve seen before – unique, one-of-a-kind assets that you can own and trade. Think of them as digital collectibles, but with the added bonus of being backed by the power of the blockchain. Each NFT is like a little piece of the future, where you can own and trade digital art and virtual items just like you would with physical objects. It’s a whole new world of possibilities for collectors and owners of digital assets. So let’s dance and sing and trade our NFTs – the future is here!
Better, with colour and personality added to the simple explanation. I’d be perfectly fine using either of these if I were to explain NFTs to a friend.
(The Bowie-style explainer presents a potential challenge in terms of attribution or citation. If I were to use the AI’s response, who would I give credit to – the AI or David Bowie? Maybe both, such as “Reference: David Bowie style via ChatGPT”?)
Next, I wanted to know examples of uses of NFTs. I asked:
Explain what you could use NFTs for
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, can be used for a wide range of applications. Because each NFT is unique and cannot be replaced by something else of equal value, they are well-suited for representing ownership of digital assets that are one-of-a-kind or otherwise have value because of their uniqueness. Some possible uses for NFTs include:
- Representing ownership of a virtual collectible, such as a digital trading card or a virtual pet
- Authenticating ownership of a digital art piece or other creative work
- Providing proof of ownership for a digital asset, such as a rare in-game item or a virtual real estate property
- Creating digital scarcity for a limited-edition item or event, such as a virtual concert ticket or a digital collectible with a fixed supply
- Creating unique, blockchain-based rewards or incentives for a loyalty program or other online platform
Overall, the uses for NFTs are limited only by the imagination, and as the technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see more and more creative uses for these unique digital assets.
This is good. Those five bullets present a great starter for discussion. Okay, so my examples aren’t actually conversational. There’s no dialogue as such, not even a question, just me giving ChatGPT a straightforward instruction. So I took this intreraction a step further by asking ChatGPT an actual question:
What could I use NFTs for?
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are digital assets that are unique and cannot be replicated or replaced. They can be used for a wide range of applications, including representing digital art, collectible items, in-game assets, and more. Some possible uses for NFTs include:
- Digital art: NFTs can be used to represent unique digital artworks, allowing artists to sell their creations as one-of-a-kind items. This can give artists more control over their work and help them earn a higher return on their creations.
- Collectibles: NFTs can be used to create unique digital collectibles, such as trading cards, figurines, and other items. These collectibles can be bought, sold, and traded like physical items, but without the need for physical storage or transportation.
- In-game assets: NFTs can be used to represent unique in-game assets, such as weapons, vehicles, and other items. This can allow players to own and trade these assets as if they were real, giving them more ownership and control over their in-game experiences.
- Digital ownership: NFTs can be used to represent ownership of digital assets, such as domain names, online accounts, and other items. This can provide a secure and verifiable way to prove ownership of these assets and transfer them to others.
Overall, the potential uses for NFTs are diverse and can vary depending on the specific application.
Intriguing. Significant differences in the answer to a question rather than the instruction approach. I took things another step further with this question:
Do you think NFTs will replace the need for traditional proofs of ownership?
It is unlikely that NFTs will entirely replace traditional proofs of ownership. While NFTs can provide a secure and verifiable way to prove ownership of digital assets, they may not be suitable for all types of ownership. For example, NFTs may not be practical for representing ownership of physical assets, such as real estate or vehicles, due to the need for a physical presence and verification.
In addition, NFTs are a relatively new technology and are not yet widely adopted or understood. This means that they may not be accepted as proof of ownership in all cases, and may not be as easily recognized or accepted as traditional forms of proof.
Overall, while NFTs have the potential to provide a new and innovative way to prove ownership of digital assets, it is unlikely that they will entirely replace traditional forms of proof in the near future.
Now we’re getting into an area ripe for a potential dialogue if I wanted to take it there.
Next levels for ChatGPT
You may have read some of the many reports and reviews that have emerged in the past few weeks including quite a few with comprehensive examples of ChatGPT’s capabilities in areas way beyond simple Q&A sessions. OpenAI has some great examples on the ChatGPT site such as this screenshot of one where a coder asks how he can fix errors in his code that isn’t working as expected.
This is a good illustration of an AI technology tool that is several levels beyond what we’ve all experienced with chatbots so far that only have the abilty to follow a script with the only leeway in responses being pre-programmed answers. No intelligence there.
I imagine a further evolution that might involve audio. For example, imagine hearing David Bowie speaking “his” definition of NFTs above. Take it another step in evolution – video where we’d see Bowie speaking it. And imagine that with someone still living. This adds to the debate about ethics and morality, good and bad actors, copyright, etc.
The scope and scale for this is huge.
Try it for yourself – https://chat.openai.com/