What does it mean to be human? What is art? Artificial intelligence and robotics continue to blur those lines.
What is art? Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines art as “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination” while Britannica takes it a little further, describing art as a “visual object or experience consciously created through an expression of skill or imagination”. The more common types of art include but are not limited to paintings, sculptures, drawings and photography. However, would a portrait created by a robot be considered art? London’s Design Museum seems to think so since they are hosting an art exhibition called “Ai-Da: Portrait of the Robot” which displays the artworks of Ai-Da, the world’s first humanoid AI robot artist.
Ai-Da is the result of a collaboration of creator Aidan Meller, robotics firm ‘Engineered Arts’, and AI algorithms developers from the University of Oxford. Ai-Da is named after the 19th Century English computing pioneer Ada Lovelace, and made her debut in 2019 but was recently updated with AI technology and a team of programmers, roboticists, artists and psychologists. Now, Ai-Da, with a robotic arm and silicone face, can draw, create fonts and engage in lively discussions.
Ai-Da can “see” using the cameras in her eyes, which are connected to a computer vision system. The data is then interpreted by an AI algorithm and then sent to the robotic arm to create a portrait of whoever is in front of her. Ai-Da has been programmed to not reproduce any works, so each art piece is unique.
Does art have to originate from human creativity and imagination? What does it mean to be human (human identity)? How far can AI technology go and how will the human-machine relationship continue to unfold? Ai-Da may be able to answer these questions during her exhibition at London’s Design Museum going on now until 31 August 2021.