Given all the hype surrounding ChatGPT, it's perhaps no surprise that many cryptocurrencies are looking for ways to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) functionality. That's particularly true for the top Layer-1 blockchains, all of which have sprawling ecosystems of projects, tools, marketplaces, and applications that could potentially benefit from AI.

Take Solana (SOL 2.76%), for example. At the end of April, Solana announced two new AI initiatives inspired by the current success of ChatGPT. Is this the start of a new AI strategy for Solana? If so, it could have huge implications for this crypto's future price trajectory. Solana is already up 102% for the year, but there may be more upside potential ahead.

ChatGPT plugin

On April 25, Solana announced the creation of an open-source ChatGPT plugin that will enable users to interface with the Solana blockchain from directly within ChatGPT. This plugin, in many ways, is similar to the ChatGPT plugins already being developed by travel booking sites, food-ordering apps, and e-commerce websites. The list of initial partners for ChatGPT includes the likes of Kayak (owned by Booking Holdings), Expedia, Shopify, and Instacart, and they're all looking for ways to make their customers smarter via ChatGPT.

AI chatbot depicted as a human face with computer code.

Image source: Getty Images.

Right now, of course, the functionality for Solana's ChatGPT plugin is relatively limited. As soon as the ChatGPT plugin goes live, Solana users will be able to query ChatGPT about on-chain activity occurring within Solana, including information about current wallet balances. Users also may be able to conduct very basic transactions, such as transferring funds between wallets or purchasing non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Things get really exciting when you consider where things could be headed. In one "beta" project, for example, Solana users can use custom-built ChatGPT functionality to interact with blockchain wallets for decentralized finance (DeFi).

AI grants program

Integration with ChatGPT, though, is just the first step in Solana's AI strategy. The next step is seeding the Solana ecosystem with grant money to develop innovative AI tools. To make that a reality, Solana will distribute $1 million in grants, ranging from $5,000 to $25,000. That's small money by crypto standards, so Solana is clearly trying to cast as wide a net as possible.

Despite its relatively small size, this AI grants program could end up as a very successful strategy for Solana. As the Solana team noted at its live product launch event for the Saga phone last month, there has been a strong track record of Solana hackathon teams later landing venture capital (VC) financing to bring their tools or projects to market. So imagine the potential impact of future hackathon teams getting an initial lift with Solana seed money for AI projects.

Why Solana?

Of course, Solana won't be the only Layer-1 blockchain attempting to implement an AI or ChatGPT strategy. Cardano (ADA 0.37%), for example, could have the makings of an AI strategy, thanks to its support of SingularityNET (AGIX), the hottest AI crypto on the planet in early 2023 with a gain of more than 400% so far. And it's safe to say that Ethereum (ETH -4.73%) developers will also find a way to make AI part of the Ethereum blockchain ecosystem.

While other blockchains might be able to replicate the technical part of creating a ChatGPT plugin, they probably can't reproduce the ability to fund hundreds of start-ups with AI seed money at one time. If you take the initial Solana funding pledge -- $1 million -- and assume that the average funding deal will be for $10,000, that's 100 start-ups getting Solana money and developing AI tools for the Solana blockchain ecosystem.

Of course, there are plenty of other reasons to invest in Solana beyond just ChatGPT and expanded AI functionality -- such as Solana's reach and scale when it comes to NFTs, DeFi, and blockchain gaming.

I was already bullish on Solana long term, and this new AI strategy just makes me more bullish. From my perspective, ChatGPT's long-term potential is so great that the first blockchain to figure it out will have a tremendous competitive advantage. Right now, it looks like that blockchain could be Solana.