It was the first time in the country’s history that a robot testified in Britain’s upper house of parliament, where unelected baronesses and lords usually gather to analyze government policy.
“It’s quite thought-provoking that Ai-Da gave evidence in one of these sessions,” said modern and contemporary art expert Aidan Meller, the robot’s inventor. Sky News before the session.
Branded “the world’s first ultra-realistic humanoid robot artist,” Ai-Da is famous for creating portraits and poems using her robotic arm, cameras in her eyes, and artificial intelligence algorithms. He told the house – no doubt to the pride of its creator – that the unique features allowed him to create “visually compelling images”.
“I am computer programs and algorithms and I depend on them,” Ai-Da told the committee in London on Tuesday, slowly moving his head from side to side and blinking occasionally. “Even though I’m not alive, I can still create art.”
Ai-Da admitted he had no idea where the world was headed, but told committee members that technology posed both a “threat and an opportunity” for creativity.
“The role of technology in creating art will continue to grow,” he said.
Those in attendance seemed intrigued but also joked about being scared – especially after a question from Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Lynn Featherstone, when the robot fell silent and stared blankly at the floor.
“I felt him sleeping!” Featherstone joked, Meller crossing the room to grab a pair of sunglasses to place over Ai-Da’s eyes, nearby.
“Excuse me,” he said to the room. “Can I reset it? Is that okay?”
It was not immediately clear what caused the robot to malfunction, and neither Meller nor Ai-Da responded to The Washington Post’s request for comment Thursday.
“When we can sometimes draw some pretty interesting faces,” Meller explained with a laugh to those patiently waiting for the android to wake up.
Created in 2019, Ai-Da has faced backlash both at home and abroad during its short, simulated life.
Last year, Meller said, he was detained in Egypt for more than a week on suspicion of being part of an espionage plot.
According to Meller, Egyptian border guards detained him due to safety concerns about the cameras in his eyes, which allow him to paint. The British ambassador intervened to secure his release, he said.
“I really can’t take my eyes off her” he told the Guardian at the time. “Let’s be really clear about this. He is not a spy.”
He was released in time to attend an exhibition at the Egyptian pyramids.
The robot displays works of art on the pyramids. Its maker says Egypt withheld it because of espionage fears.
To celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee this year, Ai-Da created a portrait of the late monarch called “Algorithm Queen”. Its owner hailed the creation as the Queen’s first painting by a robot, while critics said it lacked emotion.
The Guardian’s art critic Jonathan Jones criticized Ai-D’s portrait as “yet another example of the brazen, transparent forgery that is AI art”.
Leave a Comment