net art, video, performance

Annie Abrahams

Understanding block chain ?

This email is there to try to pen down some of my very visceral negative reactions to Plantoid – The Birth of a Blockchain-Based Lifeform (p 51 -61) in Artists Re:thinking the Blockchain (it’s a great book).

Let me first say that Plantoid is a great project, because it makes some implications of the Blockchain technology very evident and poses a lot of questions.

P 54 “All code deployed on a blockchain comes with a guarantee of execution, by engaging with a Plantoid, people are contractually bound to, and cannot deviate from the rules stipulated into the underlying smart contract code.”
Building a Plantoid is done by humans, of course they can deviate … and if not, they are stupid to participate and become slaves… (maybe there is something I don’t understand here)

P.55 “The Plantoid continuously monitors its Bitcoin balance and whenever it realizes, that a particular threshold has been reached, the Plantoid will be able to use this money to initiate it’s own reproduction”
A Plantoid has no conscience as far as I know, so I don’t think it can realize something – It’s  calculation and rules that trigger an action – a Plantoid isn’t living. Being made of code and rules is not the same as having a soul.

P 58 ” Indeed, the DNA of every Plantoid, that is, all the logic and rules that govern its growth and reproduction are recorded on the Ethereum blockchain. These may include certain distinctive aesthetic or physical requirements ….. that will affect the scope of creativity and the room for discretion left to the artists commissioned to produce the next Plantoid.”
So Plantoid seems to be conservative, reinforcing the characteristics it started with.

Artists will have to make propositions for the next level Plantoid within the rules and logic on the blockchain. Contributors can vote the for these by sending micro-transactions to the Bitcoin blockchain of their choice. All will be weighted by the amouths contributed and the smartcontract will process it and establish a winner.
Grrrrrr, automatised decissions Grrrrr anything can come out of such a thing Grrrrr, no discussion, the winner is not necessary what is wished for …

P 59 ” ….the reproduction process, the evolution of Plantoids follow a Darwinist approach” ….
Does it? Darwinism changed a lot over time.
The essential concept of “mutation” (for evolution) doesn’t seem to have a place in the Plantoid blockchain project. Mutation would mean a change of code, an intervention in the basic rules and logic of the blockchain and that seems to be impossible …. Adaption to the environment is not the same as mutation!

P 60 “Each Plantoid is forever and inextricably connected to both its ancestors and its descendants, with whom it can communicate through a shared blockchain-based network.”
I vigorously disagree with the use of the word “communicate” here. Even if it’s use could be correct, it is misleading because of our day to day use of the word. The block-chain based network exists for us to see, to conceptualise, but a Plantoid can not communicate inside it. Plantoids are part of a chain, network of rules and logic, they don’t exchange inside it. Information is linked, coupled, that’s all.

winners and so losers, determined by calculation only
not living at all

That’s what I understood


( “”I hate blockchain plantoids by O’Khaos – that’s probably why they are great”,
Email to the netbehaviour mailing list Sept 25 2017 )



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Annie Abrahams
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