From the early epochs of the pool, we’ve had a bunch of loyal delegators that knew full well that joining and help building up a smaller pool would require patience, sacrifice and persistence. The subject of todays SPOt-light is one of those people! Please read the fantastic story of EntheosAI, a new era in creative expression and generative art trough Artificial Intelligence.
Hello @EntheosAI Tell us a little bit about yourself, what are your areas of expertise? (Tech, fine cuisine, other?), how did you learn about Cardano and what led you to adopt the role you currently play in the ecosystem?
Hey Bas, thank you for taking the time and interest in our project. My name is Will and I am the creator and developer of the EntheosAI project. I’ve been researching and studying AI for about 4 years now and I came into that with a background in mathematics. In college I was pursuing a career as a math teacher and I worked as an assistant teacher and math tutor and loved the idea of teaching calculus to entry level college students. I especially loved the idea of teaching calculus in particular because it was at that level that I began to be inspired by and develop a true love for mathematics. In my college days AI was not yet a popular area of study and nobody was really talking about it at the time. At some point I decided to change career paths and went into working for and eventually running the family business, which is a small surveying and agricultural development business based in Northern California in what we call the wine country.
Even though I was no longer officially pursuing a career in math my love for the subject never ceased and I continued to study math and research different in-depth fields on my own. Some of the areas I found most interesting were complex analysis, topology and number theory. About 4 years ago I developed an interest for artificial intelligence and that lead me down what has been a rabbit hole with no end, and it quickly became for me, one of the most fascinating and interesting applications of mathematics. Learning AI quickly became an obsession and I read every book and went to every convention, workshop, and online course I could squeeze into my busy schedule. While I was always looking for applications to bring this research into the family business, what was really driving me was just the pursuit of understanding something that I found fascinating, and the more I learned the more I wanted to learn. It was through this process that I taught myself Python and developed a second love for programing and computer science.
Aside from all of this, I think as far as it relates to the Entheos project, the strongest asset I bring is simply that I am just a very creative and imaginative person, and well, as for cuisine, let’s just not talk about that lol.
How did you learn about Cardano and what led you to adopt the role you currently play in the ecosystem?
Well, I came into Cardano in an interesting way and I will tell you a funny story about it. About a year ago I was just about a year and a half into what could only be described as a failed attempt to create a high frequency trading algorithm using AI. At the time I had lost about 20 thousand dollars trying to make the idea work, but I am very ambitious or well just plain stubborn and was finding it difficult to acknowledged defeat and letgo of the idea. I had spent a bunch of time learning and coding up what was at that time a state-of-the-art reinforcement learning algorithm called proximal policy optimization. After all of the time coding the model from scratch and then training it on historical data, and I remember waking up one morning and excitedly checking the results of training, to find that the model had converged on a solution and the solution was that it had basically learned to just not take trades lol. It was just about at that point I realized maybe this algorithm was smarter than I was. It dawned on me that if I had just taken the money I had blown and simply invested it in a solid project, I actually would have done quite well. So, I changed my approach toward crypto trading and began looking instead for a solid project to invest in.
As I began researching in depth, the more I learned about Cardano the more I fell in love with the project. Coming from an academic background I think I appreciated the value of an academic and rigorous approach through peer reviewed research. I had spent a lot of time and gained a lot of experience parsing through academic papers in the field of AI. So, I could really relate to that approach. So, after digging in to the intricacies of quite a few different projects, I chose to invest what money I had left in Cardano with the intention of leaving it there for the long haul.
So from getting to know Cardano, you now are an artist outside of your usual comfortable realm. How is that been going, walk us through the process of starting something as AI generated art?
Well, I think it has been amazing and fun. Right away I was surprised by the interest and support I found from people in the community. I think seeing that interest inspired me further. It allowed me to connect with other people and break out of the little bubble I was in. Up until this point, I wasn’t quite sure if other people would feel the same way I did about AI and AI art or if others would share the same fascination and love I have with these algorithms and how they work. Seeing their interest was what pushed me further into believing this was a wonderful pursuit and really something that I should invest a lot of time in. What was our small community of supporters began to grow and I really started thinking about how to take this idea to the next level.
From the inception of Entheos, I began to think very hard about finding ways to allow people to interact with the models. I wanted the project to be about both creating beautiful art and inspiring others to share the fascination I have for the algorithms and learn more about them. My goal initially was making the models interactive so that people could get the opportunity to influence the pieces they create.
I have honestly been quite comfortable and have really loved finding people that are interested in how it all works. I think one of my favorite things in regards to the project is seeing people come in and read about the algorithms and then getting to talk with them and answer some of the tough but awesome questions they throw at me. This process has reminded me about my love and passion for teaching.
How is the project structured, in what phase is it and how have the early responses been from the community, close and more broadly?
At this point we are in the closing stages of what I see as the first big chapter in our story. The generative series was intended to be a way to allow as many people as possible to share in our vision and be a part of the first fully generative AI project on Cardano. I wanted to do something that would be accessible to everyone, but now that this chapter is coming to an end, I see the project shifting gears, and moving to much smaller drops of very high-quality works. The vision for Entheos is that it will be a project continues to push forward the boundaries of what is possible in this space with AI. The downside of focusing a lot of energy into a smaller number of works is that there will unfortunately be less pieces available for new people coming into the CNFT space. But, I see our place as being on the higher end of the spectrum as it relates to quality.
As we finish the Generative Series, we will move over the next year into producing smaller drops of only 250 pieces. This will be our Collectors Series and each release will be 25 sets of 10 unique pieces, each created from and inspired by a signature piece that was released in the Generative Series. Getting to really focus in on 25 pieces at a time will afford me and our team the opportunity to really put the energy into curating and bringing them to their full potential. Each release will likely have its own unique twist in as far as the technology that is used and how they are presented. I really want to use this opportunity to expand the space of AI art, inspire other artists, and push forward the boundary of what is possible.
In the nearer future I plan on taking a step back from the spotlight and working towards making Entheos a space of learning and support for other aspiring AI artists. As has been discussed we are going to begin workshops on everything from learning basic Python to going through the latest state of the art algorithms, and those I used in the Generative Series. I am actually very excited for these workshops as I love teaching and I think there are a lot of people out there that are going to be surprised by how accessible much of this stuff can be. All of the workshops will be available for free for anyone who is holding an Entheos NFT and is inspired to learn.
So, the response has been overwhelming and I have met so many amazing people and made so many great friends from all over the world. It’s really quite amazing to think that my bubble was pretty small a year ago, and today I have friends all around the world in places like Australia, Singapore, Qatar, Brazil, Canada and the UK just to name a few.
Were there any problems, obstacles to overcome on the way, and if yes, how did you tackle them, what resources did you use? From what I understand the epochs have had vastly different requirements on multiple levels.
There have been many obstacles along the way. In fact, my original ideas have been scaled back quite a bit as the reality of backend web development and the practicality of using AI on this scale has really come into focus. Just the compute alone to do a project like this can be overwhelming. For example, during the week leading up to the launch of epoch 3, our team spun up over 32 virtual servers with multiple high end GPUs. The compute alone required to generate those pieces cost over 10 thousand dollars, and I estimated that on my machine alone, which is a very powerful machine, the generation would have taken over 135 days.
So, those are just some of the logistical obstacles, but then there is also the issue of finding the right people. I’ve actually had to change development teams a few times and really have struggled to find the right people to bring the project to get it to where it is today. Without the team I have now, there is no way I would have even come close to pulling this all together.
I think when you are trying to do something on this scale it takes a great team and it takes people who really have expertise in their specific areas. We really have some brilliant people behind the scenes at Entheos and having people around me that support me in areas I’m not so great at, allows me to focus on the things I am decent at like creating the algorithms that produce the art.
But even today as Enthoes continues to grow, and as we grow, I am finding we need to bring even more people to help the project reach full potential. The difficulty is knowing when and how to bring in the right people at the right times to help the project to flourish.
So, now what? The project runs, epoch 3 is still live (Get in at https://www.entheosart.com/generativelaunch-3) and you have had a few generations of work minted already and they have some key differing aspects, can you elaborate on those for the people that may not be familiar with EntheosAI yet?
In Epoch 3 we released the first ai generated animations. These pieces are actually created using 4 different ai algorithms. Then end result is that you get to see a piece of original Entheos artwork sort of morph into and object or scene. These pieces kind of take the viewer on a little journey and they are quite fascinating and have been really fun to create.
I imagine the logistics and all that have been quite the drain, both in terms of engagement by the community and people that help streamline things, but have you entered calmer waters now, and how have you experience all of this?
Well, the past few months have been tough, on me, and really my whole family. They have sacrificed a lot to support me through all of this. There were many nights I stayed up all night working to make sure that everything came together. So, I think some much needed holiday time with the family and maybe a vacation is in order. But, I will say, the truth is I work well in high stress situations and there is a part of me that loves the heavy workload.
Moving forwards, seeing the huge success of NFT projects that have minted on a more large scale, like Unsigs (@unsigned_algo) for example, is there anything you’d want to pursue more now that more people start seeing the organic beauty of AI generated forms, colours, patterns etc?
Well actually as time goes on, and more AI artists come into the space, I think it’s going to be our original works that stand out the most for their uniqueness and originality. With this in mind I want the works that we do going forward to honor those early pieces, and while they may be animations and moving 3D objects with AI soundscapes and music, I really people to see them and recognize the Entheos finger print in them. I want people to be able to recognize for example that new piece of art is an Entheos production without having to be told.
Recently one of our earlier SPOt-lights featured Linda (@Cryptofly777) and she has been involved to a great extent. How has she helped, besides using her massive reach and network to increase your projects visibility.
Linda is amazing! She is actually the project manager and has helped us to make all of the really hard decisions for example how to structure the project and how the drops would be done and scheduled. She is extremely talented, and is just genuinely a kind person, and a great asset to the team. On top of all of that, is also an amazing artist, and the creativity she brings has really helped us to come up with ideas on how to make everything interactive and fun. I have really enjoyed having her on board, I think we make a great team, and I will say that without her, Enthoes would not be where it is today.
So, little sidetrack (but to you it might not be), your music! I remember that what we talked about a lot when we first met. You compose and you create videos as well right? I’ve been told Bach is known to be very mathematically infused and composed symmetrically. Any parallels in that? Or maybe a way to combine the knowledge from EntheosAI into a musical development?
Lol Yes, I am a musician, I mainly play piano and played piano for our college jazz and big bands. I was actually pursuing a career as a professional music producer at one time a very long time ago, but today it is mostly just a hobby and a passion. As for the relation to math, I do believe there is a connection. I’m not sure I know how to articulate it but I am sort of a quirky learner and am very good at certain things and then very bad at others lol. Of the things I am best at, music, math, and language are at the top of the list (and I include programming as a language). I have always found those things to be easy to learn and I believe it is because I am able to see the patterns in them. The connection for me between those things is my ability to recognize the patterns and then use that to understand them at a deep level. As for other things like reading comprehension or just plain memorizing random sequences where there are no patterns, I am terrible at. lol
Any final thoughts? People to thank, shout out’s to give or lessons learned?
Well, of course I want to thank our team. They have worked tirelessly to bring this all together. Marcus, our Cardano backend dev is likely one of the most brilliant programmers ever. Linda our project manager is extremely talented and just a wonderful person and community builder. Airik our Java Script and web backend dev is also extremely talented and knowledgeable and everyone else on the team. Without them there is no Entheos. I would also like to thank my wife Crystal who has been extremely supportive as she had to pull a lot of extra weight over the last few months taking care of our 2 young girls Olivia and Zoey who are my whole world. But mostly, I think I would just to like to say thank you to the community for this amazing journey. The Cardano NFT community inspires me and motivate me every day. I really believe that we have something special here in these communities. There is just a kindness and inclusiveness and just general uplifting that is like nothing I have ever seen. I can never put into words how grateful I am for the embrace and support I have felt. I really feel like I am a part of something that is so much bigger than myself and it is truly an honor to be a small part of it. And, thank you Bas, you were there when I entered the space and encouraged me and supported me from the beginning. I learned a lot from you and sorry everyone but I just have to say, STAYK is best pool on Cardano!!
Will, I’m thankfull to have been able to play a role in the bigger picture, your efforts for the pool the limited NFT’s, the enthusiasm you portray are an example. Thanks so much for taking the time for this and granting us your first media appearance! im not sure how valuable that is, but I heard about your impending podcast roster and im happy I got in in time 😉 Thanks again and well keep a close eye on you!
Bas @ Stayk