Feed Your Bitcoin to a Flower [The Plantoid]


A Store of (Nutritious) Value

Thought that all you could do with Bitcoin was invest and spend? Not only is the digital currency a promising store of secure value and revolutionary form of global money, it’s also a necessary component in any healthy Plantoid’s balanced diet. That’s right, with this classic project first created in 2014 by Primavera de Fillipi, you can help new Plaintoids proliferate around the world.

Although this isn’t a new project, the Plantoid remains one of the most iconic and representative creative works that truly leverages the implications of crypto technology. Rather than simply representing or interpreting the existence of decentralization, it fully utilizes it to operate and exist. Today, we’ll be looking at this classic project and why it remains the most vivid precedent of creativity on the blockchain.


I am a Plantoid

Plantoid is an autonomous blockchain-based life form that is the model of a plant in an android-like framework. They are robots that are meant to replicate the life of a plant, including their appearance, their behavior, and their growth rate. There is a duality to these Plantoids in that it has both a physical and a digital identity:

  • In the physical realm, it resembles a mechanical structure that is made of recycled electronics and steel.
  • In the digital realm, it is a software that is positioned within a network on the blockchain.

The Plantoid aims to help visualize one of the most innovative, yet unexplored factors of blockchain technology, which is the ability to create blockchain-based lifeforms. Through human interactions and code derived from the blockchain, these contraptions are able to sustain themselves, are autonomous, and are capable of duplicating themselves. The Plantoid seeks to become the liaison for artists to display the inner workings of these autonomous systems for people to better understand how this technology works and what benefits it has to offer.

Similar to a life form, the Plantoid’s main function is to reproduce. It attracts the attention of passersby with its unique presence and seduces them to feeding it some Bitcoin. The Plantoid has its own Bitcoin wallet and once it has gathered enough BTC, it will start searching for mates – humans who are willing to help it reproduce.


With the Plantoid being autonomous and self-sufficient, the plant cannot be bought or owned. People that fund the Plantoid will obtain different rights and obligations, depending on the kind of Plantoid –

  • Funders will receive the right to set the rules that dictate the reproduction of the Plantoid, shape the way in which the Plantoid might evolve over time, and specify the terms and conditions for anyone that is willing to look after the descendants.
  • Producers will obtain the right as the creator of the Plantoid and the right to a fair payment once the Plantoid receives enough funds to reproduce.

Depending on where the Plantoid is located physically in the world, the characteristics or appearance of the Plantoid differ, as artists from different geographic locations and cultural environments will implement different kinds of Plantoids phenotypes.

Finally, the Plantoid is programmed in a way that whenever it receives Bitcoin donations, it sends a portion of that amount to its ‘mother’- the Plantoid in which the current one emerged. As such, the mother’s artist/creator is rewarded for making a compelling Plantoid version that attracted enough investment to create additional offspring.


Phyisicalizing DAOs

The project’s creator, Primavera de Filippi, came up with this initiative in 2014 during the initial wave of investment interest in Bitcoin. It was intended to be the first creative way of establishing a physical version of a DAO – Decentralized Autonomous Organization – that could set initial parameters and effectively operate independent of any governing individual or institution. There would be no need for de Filippi to handhold any successive iteration of the Plantoid as both the educational and financial components are integrated into the project itself. The Plantoid, in a strange and shiny way, proves the efficiency of creating a decentralized operation and dozens of Plantoids created as a result, all without oversight, is a testament to blockchain’s implications on network industries.

De Filippi’s metallic brainchild is also the first well-known example of a creative work fused with the new capacities made available by cryptocurrency. Her system not only uses a Bitcoin wallet and has the facade of a techy future, but it fundamentally leverages the global capacity of BTC’s blockchain and information system to establish an artistic DAO that is digitally alive.

These types of projects open the door for creative professionals to go beyond looking at blockchain as a simply conceptual and representative theme. Instead, there is a new domain of opportunity in integrating the new implications of information, communication, and economics, and relying on them as the foundation for innovative design practices.


About the Creator – Primavera de Filippi

Primavera de Filippi is currently a researcher at the National Center of Scientific in Paris, France. She is also a faculty associate at the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Primavera received her Masters Degree in Bocconi University of Milan for business and administration and holds a PhD from the European University Institute in Florence, where she analyzed the legal challenges of copyright law in the digital realm.

Her research interests include exploring the legal challenges and opportunities of online decentralized technologies, zeroing in on peer-to-peer networks, mesh networking technologies, and recently, technology on the blockchain. Currently, Primavera is researching certain legal challenges that have arisen from apps that are based on the blockchain, in addition to analyzing the framework for the governance-by-design concept as it connects to newer architectures from the web.

Project Name: Plantoid
Website: http://okhaos.com/plantoids/
Primavera de Filippi’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/yaoeo
Cover illustration by @carrotcake
Article illustration by @zsolt.vidak

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