Turbo is an Ethereum-based ERC-20 GPT-4-guided community-driven crypto memecoin themed around a toad named Quantum Leap. The project was born in April 2023 out of the unique partnership between Australian artist Rhett (Dashwood) Mankind and artificial intelligence. Its tale demonstrates the potential for AI, like ChatGPT, to assist in the creation of groundbreaking projects in the Web3 space.
The Man Behind the Meme
The creator of Turbo is Rhett Mankind, a digital artist based in Australia with a traditional background in commercial art & design. He is an award-winning digital artist with over 20 years of experience in branding, advertising, and digital art, with works showcased in top galleries and auction houses, including Sotheby's and SuperRare. An NFTs collector, he has been teaching Digital and Crypto Art for years and has garnered a devoted following on YouTube, with one of the things setting him apart being that:
“I've been in crypto since 2013 but decided a few years ago to dedicate a year to learning markets. I stopped doing art and just studied trading and technical analysis for that year.”
The journey of Turbo began as a “digital performance art piece”, an extension of Mankind’s experimentation and exploration of AI. The artist, who had no knowledge of coding or smart contracts, sought the assistance of OpenAI’s AI chatbot GPT-4 to create a cryptocurrency token. Mankind was able to navigate the process of launching the cryptocurrency, thanks to step-by-step instructions and lines of code provided by GPT-4. He also received valuable input from his Twitter followers throughout the process.
The Birth of Turbo
"I was kind of like of course, of course, it's going to come up with these crazy names. And my first response was, this is how I know I'm not in control and it's real experiment because there's no way I would have come up with a name like that for a coin that I was going to launch. And then also, it made me realize, and that this came up a bit later on, that ChatGPT is trained up to 2021 on it, all its information. And so that reminded me of back in 2020, 2021, when all these sort of meme tokens were starting to go around, first wave, and they had all these crazy names like animal names or food names. So maybe it's learned from that."
At the intersects of art, artificial intelligence (AI), and the realm of crypto degeneracy, the development of the coin began on April 24, when digital artist Rhett Mankind (which admittedly stated began as a joke to draw attention to his artwork amidst a stagnant NFT market) consulted ChatGPT to "make the next great meme coin" with a fitting budget of just $69 USD.
Mankind’s collaboration with GPT-4 yielded fascinating results. Upon Mankind’s prompt, GPT-4 generated step-by-step instructions to create and popularize a token. The AI’s suggestions, coupled with inputs from Mankind’s Twitter followers, resulted in the inception of “TurboToadToken” or TTT, represented by a futuristic space-helmet-donning orange cartoon toad named Quantum Leap. Mankind overcame the barrier of not knowing how to code by following GPT-4’s guidance, leading to the creation of the first version of TTT.
Just over a week later the coin had taken on a life of its own, formed a community, found utility, and acted as a sort of performative art reflecting the state of the crypto and NFT markets.
Struggles and Triumph
The first GPT-4 prompt (of at-the-time “MemeCoinGPT”) yielded step-by-step instructions on how to create the token and make it popular; first on the list, come up with a name. Among some of the early suggestions by the chatbot were “HypeHoundCoin” and “StellarSlothToken,” but his small group of Twitter followers overwhelmingly preferred “TurboToadToken”. When it was time to create a logo, GPT-4 gave him a prompt that generated a space-helmet-donning orange cartoon toad (later named Quantum Leap) in the A.I. image generator Midjourne. With a name and logo, Mankind was ready to build out the actual infrastructure, but he couldn’t because he didn’t know how to code. Instead of heeding GPT-4’s suggestion to spend years learning Solidity, the programming language used to create smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain, Mankind asked if the chatbot could do the coding for him. It obliged, and over the course of several days (during which he addressed various coding errors, with help from his Twitter community) Mankind and GPT-4 created the first version of the TurboToadToken, or TTT. Unluckily, after paying $500 on top of his initial investment of $69 to launch the token on the blockchain, Mankind’s first test was marred by an unfortunate event after a malicious bot purchased nearly all of the tokens, leading to an unsuccessful start.
The project was a failure at that stage. I thought, ‘Okay, it’s done'.
An exasperated Mankind was ready to give up, but his Twitter followers voted overwhelmingly in a poll for him to continue the experiment. After turning to GPT-4 for a new way forward, it suggested a crowdfunding approach where instead of him putting up all the money to start it, investors would pitch in while receiving tokens proportional to what they contributed. The second launch was a success, albeit with a fresh set of investors and a new name (Turbo), making the token quickly popular, and getting Elon Musk's attention.
ChatGPT-created tokenomics model is based on these major elements:
- A fixed total supply of 69 billion tokens;
- A tax-free model to ‘simplify transactions and encourage trading activity’;
- Renounced ownership over the contract to reinforce trust within potential buyers and future communities;
- Project launch without a presale period, in order to ensure a fair distribution and prevent any price manipulation strategies.
While smaller than other online communities backing memecoins like Dogecoin and Shiba Inu Coin, token holders took several initiatives, ranging from listing the coin on Dextools (which offers information to traders about decentralized markets) and several other CEXes and DEXes, to setting up a Telegram chat, to running an art contest that incorporates the token.
"It's all community run. I keep saying that, because people come into the Discord, because I look at the general chat, and they say, "who's the team? What are devs like? Are they are best friends?" And the answer is always there is no team. There's no devs. It's just community. Whatever someone wants to do in the community, they can do. And everything I've done is just to double down on that so it's clear. So I made sure that mascot and the logo is copyright free. No one has to worry about that. The contract is renounced, so I don't control the contract. I don't have access to the Twitter. I don't have mod permissions on Discord. I didn't start the Telegram. I'm not even on the Telegram. Everything that is done is done independent of me. I didn't start or do any of those sorts of initiatives."
The community played in fact a significant role in the creation and success of the Turbo meme coin. It was involved at various stages of the coin’s development, and its involvement proved to be crucial in multiple instances:
- Naming and logo design: The name “TurboToadToken” and the logo, an orange cartoon toad wearing a space helmet, were both chosen with input from Mankind’s Twitter followers. They preferred the name “TurboToadToken” among other suggestions by the AI chatbot GPT-4;
- Coding assistance: While creating the token, the Twitter community also assisted Mankind in addressing various coding errors. This helped Mankind and GPT-4 to create the first version of the TurboToadToken;
- Support during setbacks: After the initial launch failed due to a malicious bot purchasing nearly all of the tokens, Mankind’s Twitter followers encouraged him to continue the project. They voted overwhelmingly in a poll for him to continue, which led him to seek a new approach from GPT-4 and eventually led to the successful relaunch of the coin;
- Shared ownership and control: After the token’s launch, Mankind renounced ownership of the smart contract and made the mascot freely available to anyone. This action effectively put the control of the project into the community’s hands, fostering a sense of ownership and shared responsibility among its members.
Turbo’s success story is incomplete without mentioning the financial gain it brought Mankind. With $Turbo meteoric rise in the crypto market, Mankind went from investing $69 to becoming a multi-millionaire, on paper (or in code) at least. He was even able to sell enough tokens to afford a house closer to his daughter’s school, while still holding more than 10% of the total tokens. Despite this success, Mankind remains an active community member, with no immediate plans to sell off his holdings.
Moving forwards, Mankind aims to fully decentralize the project. Since the launch in late April, Mankind has mostly stepped back from the project. He made Quantum Leap, the mascot, open to anyone’s use through a Creative Commons Zero license and has renounced ownership of the smart contract so he can no longer alter the code.
“All the assets or elements of the project are in the hands of the community”
To end this overview in the most wholesome way possible, Mankind had this to say about the success of their highly ambitious and novel project:
“Just to think that my daughter could look up to me and see something that I’ve done is successful; that was awesome as well. So many things have come out of this that it’s overwhelming because it has already taken on a life of its own that is far beyond me. Just to know that I put in momentum something that could take on a life of its own is really special.”
Turbo’s journey serves as a testament to the transformative power of technology and creativity. Mankind’s story is not just about overnight success but about years of dedication in the Web3 space as a digital artist, culminating in a project that has captivated the world of cryptocurrency. In the ever-evolving crypto market, Turbo stands as a beacon of innovation and community spirit, reminding us of the endless possibilities when art meets AI.
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