Sentient Labs, a blockchain-powered open source artificial intelligence (AI) development platform, has raised $85m (S$115.6m) in its seed investment round.

Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, Pantera Capital, and Framework Ventures jointly co-led the round.

Additional strategic investors include Arrington Capital, Canonical, Dao5, Delphi, Dispersion, Ethereal, Folius, Foresight, Hack VC, Hashkey, Hypersphere, IDG, Mirana, Nomad, Primitive Ventures, Protagonist, Republic, Robot Ventures, Sky9, Spartan, Symbolic Capital, Topology, and several more.

Sentient Labs, which was founded in January 2024, will use the capital to accelerate the development of open source AI platform.  

The startup is also looking to expand its team by hiring experts in AI research and blockchain engineering. It also intends to establish partnerships with leading academic institutions and industry players. 

Based in Singapore, Sentient Labs is focused on creating an open-source platform that allows developers to be compensated for their contributions to AI tools, including chatbots and enterprise software.  

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The platform’s planned testnet launch is anticipated for the third quarter. 

Sentient Labs was founded by a team including Polygon Labs co-founder and executive chairman Sandeep Nailwal, along with academics Pramod Viswanath and Himanshu Tyagi.  

In an interview to Bloomberg News, Nailwal expressed concerns about the centralisation of AI, stating, “there is a lot of anxiety around centralised forces running away with AI.” 

Nailwal highlighted the potential of crypto to disrupt the AI sector and aims for Sentient to compete with “centralised behemoths”.  

The Sentient system rewards engineers for tasks such as data labelling and refining, which are essential for training AI models. 

This platform utilises software from Polygon, which is also venturing into the AI space. 

Despite the investment, Nailwal acknowledged that the operational details of the system are still being finalised.  

“We have not completely formalised that, how that structure will play out,” he said.  

However, he remains optimistic about the potential impact on the AI industry, concluding, “If we crack the idea, if we crack the technology behind it, this has a potential to disrupt the AI industry completely.”