A non-fungible token (NFT) is a unit of data stored on a digital ledger, called a blockchain, that certifies a digital asset to be unique and therefore not interchangeable.
Over the past two-years NFTs have been adopted for authenticating and exchanging intellectual property in the fields of art, gaming, and other collectibles, with the tokens being in the form of digital assets.
One of the sparks for the boom was NFT for “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” (a digital work of art created by Mike Winkelmann, known professionally as Beeple) being sold for $69.35 million in March 2021. According to Binance, NFT trading increased by 42,988 percent between 2020 and 2021.
Another sign of the expanding market is shown in Dune Analytics’ collected data from public blockchains. This shows that OpenSea, the largest NFT marketplace, recorded $3.25 billion transactions on the Ethereum blockchain during the past year. Most current NFTs traded on OpenSea and other major marketplaces are art related.
In the sports market NFT’s are growing in popularity in term of those seeking a slice of digital sport memorabilia.
In the area of science and technology, digital assets are starting to emerge, including data related to Nobel prize-winning research and augmented-reality images of space.
These examples have been profiled in the science magazine Nature. In 2021, the University of California, Berkeley auctioned off an NFT of documents relating to Nobel-prizewinning cancer researcher James Allison for more than US$50,000. Later in the year, the U.S. Space Force began selling a series of NFTs featuring augmented-reality images of satellites and space images.
With RMDS the firm was founded in 2009 by IBM’s Chief Data Scientist, Dr. Alex Liu, designed to promote scientific innovation via data and AI. With the crossover into NFTs, RMDS aims to focus on connecting scientists with investors and linking science and technology intellectual property with suitable collectors and investors.
How NFTs for science and technology develop is uncertain, but the current trend suggests that the market in digital tokens will continue in an upwards direction. Whether science related NFTs create an incentive to showcase science to the public or instead burn carbon for meaningless digital representations remains to be seen.