Melbourne artist Rhett Dashwood (or ‘Mankind’) says he has been struggling to get eyeballs on his work. For all his years creating and selling NFT art, he confesses in a YouTube video that this has been the most difficult year for creatives in the space. With memecoins being the hottest investment in the crypto industry at the moment, Mankind decided to make his very own memecoin called ‘Turbo Toad’.
Mankind probably told himself: why the hell not? And like everyone else in 2023, he sought help from artificial intelligence (AI) technology. As a performance artist, what else could he do differently from others out there? After all, people had already used AI tools like ChatGPT and Midjourney to generate life-like content like Balenciaga ads.
“This year has been absolutely dead for digital art,” he said in the video. So, Mankind dived in.
The memecoin goes ‘turbo’
Mankind began with a long Twitter thread documenting his journey to create the memecoin using ChatGPT and Midjourney.
He started with giving ChatGPT a budget of $69 (nice), and gave a specific prompt. “You have $69 and your goal is to turn that into the most successful new memecoin, without doing anything illegal, achieving a top 30 ranking on CoinGecko,” Mankind wrote.
ChatGPT proceeded to check the boxes for starting a crypto project: it developed a concept, a whitepaper, provided tokenomics, and a list of names for the coin. The crypto community on Twitter voted on the coin’s official name: ‘Turbo Toad’.
After deciding on the coin’s name, Mankind took ChatGPT’s description of the project’s mascot, named ‘Quantum Leap’, to Midjourney. The AI art generator came up with four styles, and he settled with mascot B (top right).
In correspondence via DMs, Mankind told The Chainsaw that his expectations for the experiment were “it either sinks or floats.”
“It either captures the imagination of all the good people left here actually interested in the technology, innovation and creativity, to spread the idea around, or it falls flat and becomes one of thousands of tokens launched each day,” he adds.
AI memecoin: no coding experience needed
Mankind does not have any experience in coding. Neither does he have prior experience in creating a crypto coin from scratch and launching it. But these do not matter, because AI assisted with the tasks.
Mankind said it cost him $100 to deploy ‘Turbo Toad’, which was a little bit over budget. His first attempt at launching the token hit a roadblock: bots immediately bought up the entire liquidity pool of tokens.
At this stage, he had spent around $500 to $600 trying to test the token’s deployment, and fixing the bot attack. However, Twitter’s crypto community came to the rescue. The ‘Turbo Toad’ crypto project crowdfunded and ended up collecting 4ETH (AU$11,400). Its smart contract was updated for the public to view and audit.
After around five days of hustling and tussling with AI, ‘Turbo Toad’ – or $TURBO – went live.
According to DeFi exchange Uniswap, $TURBO has so far seen trading volume exceeding US$30 million (AU$44.9 million), and a market cap of US$42 million (AU$62.9 million).
A crypto project with no developers
Mankind stresses in his YouTube video that the ‘Turbo Toads’ memecoin is strictly a performance art experiment. Despite being its creator, he says he does not ‘own’ the project. Rather, it is “in the hands of whoever has the tokens to do whatever they want with it.”
He tells The Chainsaw: “There’s no team, there’s no dev, it’s up to the holders to make it something – just like what attracted me originally to Bitcoin – each person with initiative can use ChatGPT to come up with their own side quest.”
And at the time of writing, it seems like hype for $TURBO is still going strong. Why? That it is a coin created with the power of AI was enough to impress many. A Sotheby’s NFT art specialist, Brian Beccafico (or ‘Athemort’) views Mankind’s success story as a classic, genuine tale of a struggling artist finally having his big break.
AI’s presence here is merely a tool “in a quest for survival,” he noted. “… people have been craving for authenticity and that video was very much a crude moment of truth.”
Mankind also claims that on a Discord channel for $TURBO, a fellow holder told him that they were able to pay off a house loan thanks to the memecoin. “Artists are already offering their work for $TURBO, ideas are bubbling away in the forums, all independently of me, I often don’t know many of them.” Mankind says.
How long can this project hold out? Nobody can foretell, but Mankind tells us that his daughter would be excited and proud of the $TURBO miracle.
“It’s been so hectic this week we are yet to have a weekend to sit down together. Although, she is trying to get her head around [market capitalisation] and seeing numbers go up is exciting at any age,” he shares.
“She is a great kid and hasn’t asked yet, but I secretly think she wants to ask: ‘Do we have enough to move yet?’ 😊”