Zima Red ep 91: Justin Trimble
How NFTs & AI Are Changing Culture (And The Power Of Memes!)
Primer: Justin Trimble is behind BrainDrops, a platform for Artificial Intelligence (AI) art. He brings with him passion and expertise from disparate fields, combining them together to create something new, something cool. In this episode of the Zima Red Podcast, he shares his philosophy and what he is creating with it.
Grew up in the 80s/90s. Really into pop culture and grunge music
Got him interested into playing the guitar
His curiosity and wanting to learn about new things have been a main driver in his life
Decided to major in psychology because he has always been interested in the brain and human behaviour and what makes people tick
After he graduated, he realized that he couldn't do much with a psychology degree
Went to grad school for business, but spent his nights on writing music
Moved to Nashville to play bass professionally/write songs
In 2015, the Oculus DK1 dev kit came out and he was trying to figure out how to combine art and VR
When Did He Hear About Cryptocurrencies?
Heard about Bitcoin in 2013 after it had crashed to $3
Thought that it was a scam
In 2015/2016, he started to get interested in other coins when they came out. This motivated him to learn about Ichimoku and trading
Received a message on Twitter about the CryptoPunks project. It clicked with him immediately as he understood digital provenance
He said he was interested and they helped walked him through the process of claiming a CryptoPunk. He claimed a few Punks
"I said, I was interested and they helped walk me through the claiming process and so I claimed a few [Punks]. I didn't go crazy. I wish I had gone more crazy, but I definitely knew that it was interesting."
- Justin Trimble
Was very open to NFTs because he decided not to dismiss something because he don't fully understand it immediately
NFT Journey After Punks
Was weighing possibilities and considering opportunity cost (e.g. converting ETH back to sats, buying more CryptoPunks on the market)
Became more interested in all the ICOs that were coming out and that became his main focus
Wasn't heavy into NFTs at that time
In 2018/2019, crypto flatlined. He would come in to see if anything new is happening then pop back out. Was focused on VR and art
When Did He Decide To Fully Focus On Crypto?
In early 2020, he felt that things were heating up just by looking at charts
Started talking about crypto and NFTs publicly. The goal was to do something on the business side and be involved with crypto
Knew that he doesn't want to go into TradFi
Wanted to explore how he could combine all his passions into one
Started helping out in different Discords. Became more active in the CryptoPunks Discord, educating people who are interested to learn about Punks
Got to make a lot of friends
What Is He Currently Building?
Found what Snowfro did with Art Blocks to be very inspiring
Thought of what they could do for non-generative artists. Eventually it morphed into the idea of what AI artists have been doing with style generators
Realized that AI artists have been getting very little attention. Wanted to create a platform for AI artists. It will be called BrainDrops
This will allow artists to express their vision and make a living with their art and help collectors get involved with their art at reasonable prices
Cannot go into details about how the platform will work as it's still evolving
Not far away from the test. Have an amazing team built an amazing curation board
"We're kind of approaching it from, you know, when you're a kid, like in junior high or something, and you have a project, a group project, and everybody, just everybody's super interested in this particular group project, for whatever reason. And the motivation is really just make something awesome."
- Justin Trimble
If any artist is looking to do a drop, he is open to figuring out how he can make it work
Controversial Ideas Around AI Art
In 50,000 year old cave art, human figures are just stick figures. However, animals and the outside world is drawn very detailed relative to the human figures. Thought of it as the evolution of human consciousness and self-awareness
Wondered whether would there be similarities for AI art — it gets more sentient and more aware of itself such that its output changes over time
There have been arguments about the existential threat of AI on humanity. Has a controversial idea that it could be a tool for survival to collaborate with AI on art
In a way, we are merging with technology to some extent. We spent hours on our computers and phones each day
“For me art is basically it's a way to preserve the feelings of a time and a place. And so what better way when most things are happening digitally. You know, what better way to have artwork be reflecting the actual times when we're talking about digital artwork being one of the main mediums.”
- Justin Trimble
To him, art is a way to preserve the feelings of a time and place. Digital mediums help facilitate the preservation of feelings
Is The AI Getting Smarter At Creating Art Or Are People Just Using AI To Create Art?
Important to have both aspects
Not many people are working on creating an AI that could become completely autonomous
Most AI art is now a collaboration between the artist and the AI
Eventually, there will be more discourse on “what is art? what qualifies as art?”
For The Broader Populace, Why Do People Find NFTs So Great?
Tribal aspect of NFTs have been a big driver. People found like-minded individuals and a community to be a part of
People have a big desire for community
A side project from Brain Drops is a NFT version of Reddit — has a community aspect and voting to keep people accountable
Thoughts On The Business Model Of Social Media
💡 Andrew shared about the problems with social media today. Its business model is dependent on ads and people clicking on them. To drive engagement, people are made angry to generate clicks. What is his thoughts on this?
Agrees that inciting people to anger is a really easy way to engage
This makes the environment toxic
Thinking of ways to make it less toxic so that it can be good for everyone
Broad Thesis On How NFTs And Culture Are Intertwining
Art is a big reflection of culture
This has been going on for a long time with memes
Awareness of how important memes are in shaping culture have recently exploded
“It's fascinating the idea of memes as an art form, created really by anybody, having the same impact on culture that religious institutions did for centuries.”
- Justin Trimble
Favourite Sectors In The NFT Space
Do not see the NFT categories as separate. Has always seen them as being blended together
Feels that we are headed towards personalized experiences inside VR
Super interested to see how the space evolves
Where Are We Heading With The Metaverse?
Heading towards a more stronger digital presence
Thinks that it will happen a lot faster than what we would expect
What Is A Company That He Really Loves?
Enables artists to do super cool things with their art and to make a living out of it
Allows collectors to collect pieces at somewhat affordable prices
Looks up to Erick/Snowfro for pooling together resources and creating this platform
Thoughts On The Current NFT Market Environment
Have been in a massive bull run for a long time
Main driver is new people learning about NFTs, wanting to get involved, and buying up the floor of some project
Andrew mentioned about Twitter influencers having an impact on NFT markets. Justin finds it scary that some influencers do really have the ability to move markets
Doesn’t think it is healthy for influencers to use their influence as a pump mechanism
Future Of NFTs
Many opportunities for people to dive in to the different areas
In the long term, he foresees that people will dive in to learn Solidity (for coders) and Unreal Engine (for creatives)
Going to be an explosion of super-compelling artwork and more user-friendly tools
Will eventually see a shift from people talking about which influencers are pumping a project to cool and innovative things that are being done
Grand 5-10 Year Vision
Probably reasonable to say that, in 10 years, an AI artist can create insanely personalized and fully immersive experiences inside VR
Would want to be involved in that in some way
Single Favourite NFT
His PixelChain Avatar
If He Won $10 Billion In The Lottery Today, What Would He Do?
When it comes down to what he is working on, he would be able to hire more people to make his visions happen faster
Could be involved in a few more projects and have a broader reach
Will still be involved in NFTs because that’s his main passion
Most Controversial Thought On NFTs
Goes back to his earlier discussion on humanity’s evolution of consciousness and self-awareness and whether will AIs become more self-aware
The relationship between AI art and the existential threat of AI to humanity
Who Is Someone He Look Up To And Why?
Because he’s a genuine person and has done so much for the space
NFT Ecosystem In 3 Years
Progress in computing power
Ethereum solving the environmental issues and the launch of Eth 2
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