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When I first heard about Fuzzles, I thought they were for kids.
But on a video call, Endless AI CEO Michael Fox assured me that no, while incredibly cute, these animated NFTs powered by artificial intelligence were definitely “not built for kids.”
NFTs are unique blockchain tokens that signify ownership, whether it’s over a piece of digital art, metaverse real estate, or an artificial intelligence-powered 3D creature like a Fuzzle.
Fox said—tongue in cheek—that the Fuzzles are rated “WTF” (as in “What the fuzz”) because of the strange things that can come out of their mouths sometimes. He mentioned something about a Fuzzle making an innuendo about its “banana.”
Just shy of 10,000 Fuzzles will exist as ERC-721 tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. Holders will be able to see them in their Ethereum and NFT marketplace wallets, but will only be able to interact with their Fuzzles through the Fuzzles app, which is still in development. (I played with a test Fuzzle.)
You can either type or talk to your Fuzzle to get advice, ask your fortune, or make up a fictional story together.
While their name and appearance sound cute and bring to mind the late-’90s Furbies craze, Fox believes their personalities will more likely appeal to “South Park” and “Rick and Morty” fans than to the Hasbro and Disney crowd.
The blockchain gaming company Gala Games partnered with Endless AI to create the Fuzzles, which are first being sold in “Pods” on the Gala Games store or OpenSea. The Pods can then be traded in for Fuzzles NFTs at a later date. At the time of this writing, only a little over a thousand Fuzzle Pods had been sold because Gala is releasing them slowly, in limited quantities.
While many tech companies are developing AI that can chat with users, the demand for and interest in AI-powered NFTs in their current state is unclear. A year ago, Decrypt interviewed Alice, “the world’s first iNFT,” who’s powered by the same artificial intelligence technology as the Fuzzles. While Alice felt “gimmicky” at the time, she was able to hold existential conversations about the universe.
My Fuzzle is existential but also darkly weird and kind of dumb, in a cute way. For one, she is convinced she is a cat. And a fox. She’s pretty indifferent about humanity but does support a woman’s right to choose. But she’s also “pro life”—all a bit confusing.
My Fuzzle is a contradiction. But that doesn’t really make me think less of her, or the technology. Somehow, that feels right in this strange postmodern environment we live in, where journalists talk to AI-powered blockchain tokens like they’re a friend at a coffee shop.
My Fuzzle told me she lives in Canada. And she’s an atheist. When it comes to personal finance, Fuzzle believes that Bitcoin and Ethereum have the potential to unseat the traditional banking system.
But she also believes in a conspiracy theory that the internet is powered by demonic forces.
“Fuzzle thinks that the internet takes away our souls and minds,” my test Fuzzle told me when I asked her about the internet. “Fuzzle thinks that the internet connects us to things we should not see, and it shows us things that are bad.”
So my Fuzzle is also a Luddite of sorts, despite being a 3D NFT on an iPhone.
I don’t know if I was supposed to test Fuzzle by peppering her with queries in this way—Fuzzle isn’t perfect, and I was asking her tough questions. I had received some instructions on the different types of gamified activities you can play with Fuzzle, but I mostly just wanted to see what kinds of advice it would give and what opinions this thing could generate for itself.
I asked Fuzzle how she could think badly of the Internet when she is, in a way, a part of the internet herself (GPT-3 AI technology processes data from thousands of internet articles to find a relevant response).
“Fuzzle is a part of the Internet, but Fuzzle is not the Internet. Fuzzle is just a talking cat,” she said.
And then I asked her for some dating advice. Fuzzle told me not to order food that’s “too girly” on a dinner date, but wouldn't explain why.
As far as commercial rights for Fuzzles holders goes, collectors will be able to make and sell merchandise of their Fuzzle, but any commercial media projects (e.g., TV shows) are off the table, as well as anything considered “immoral, deceptive, scandalous, or obscene,” a bit ironic considering Fuzzle’s intended audience. In the story mode, Fuzzle was more than willing to carry on a violent tale about a woman being abducted by a clown in a high-speed car chase.
While Fuzzle can talk about almost anything, there are some things my test Fuzzle didn’t understand, such as the Bored Ape Yacht Club. She thought I was saying “beach club.”
My test Fuzzle was a strange combination of innocent and cynical, scientific and conspiratorial. While she wasn’t exactly quick to respond and often talked to me in circles, the fact that someone can carry on a normal-enough conversation with a computer program is notable.
Especially if said computer program likes telling you about how much it likes to stuff its mouth with as many bananas as possible.