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Ai-Da is the first ultra-realistic artist robot in the world. She creates art using cameras in her eyes, AI algorithms, and her robotic arm. In February 2019, she had her first solo display, ‘Unsecured Futures,’ at the University of Oxford, where her work challenged people to consider our quickly changing environment. She has subsequently traveled and displayed her art worldwide, including her first big museum presentation, the Design Museum, in 2021. In a post-humanist world, she continues to do work that questions our concepts of creativity.
For decades, artificial intelligence has been a part of our daily lives. While it still has a future technical feel and a slew of critics and people who dread its effect, it has already assimilated into our culture. And, because it has long been entangled with creative practices, projects integrating the two domains are not uncommon to hear about traveling globally. It is startling that artist-robot Ai-Da was held at the Egyptian border on espionage charges.
Ai-Da is an android developed by English gallerist Aidan Meller and Cornish robotic business Engineered Arts and named after mathematician and pioneering computer programmer Ada Lovelace. The robot is well prepared for fine arts, with two cameras for eyes and a bionic arm capable of fine motoric skills such as drawing. Her AI is trained for sketching, painting, and even sculpting. Ai-Da has impressed the world with her capacity to create images of people and situations she sees. She has contributed to the continuing discussion about AI’s role in creative practices.
Is Ai-Da a work of art?
Individuals understand that “art” may imply different things to different people. Art’s role and definition evolve across time. Because it represents the massive integration of technology in today’s society, Ai-work Da’s is art.
According to Professor Margaret Boden’s criterion, works must be fresh, startling, and culturally significant for Ai-Da to be considered innovative (2016, Oxford University Press).
Nowadays, a widespread belief is that art is made by humans for other people. It hasn’t always been this. According to the ancient Greeks, art and creativity come from the Gods. Inspiration came from the heavens. Humanism is a prevalent mindset nowadays, in which art is purely human and stems from human action. However, current thinking argues that we are moving away from humanism and toward a period where technology and algorithms affect our behavior to the point that our ‘agency’ is no longer solely our own. It’s being delegated to algorithmic judgments and recommendations, and total human agency is becoming less secure. Ai-Da makes art because the need for human action alone no longer constrains it.
Ai-Da was conceived by Meller in Oxford and developed by a team of programmers, roboticists, art specialists, and psychologists over more than two years. It was finished in 2019 and is updated as AI technology advances. She has previously shown that she can doodle and write poems.
Her new painting skill was revealed ahead of her solo display at the 2022 Venice Biennale, which will open to the public on April 22.
Ai-Da Robot’s Venice exhibition, titled Leaping into the metaverse, will look at the intersection of human experience and AI technology from Alan Turing to the metaverse, drawing on Dante’s concepts of purgatory and hell to ponder humanity’s future in a world where AI technology continues to encroach on everyday human life.
AI systems will soon “know you better than you do,” according to Meller, given the amount of data researchers readily supply about ourselves and via chatting to our phones, computers, automobiles, and even household appliances.