Dressed in an oversized white button-up with her long black hair hanging loose, Ai-Da can easily pass for an artist in her studio. Despite her strong human-like gaze and captivating eyes however, her bionic arm beeps and bops, giving away her true identity: a robot.
Ai-Da, who was named after pioneering scientist Ada Lovelace, was revealed along with her creations at St John’s College at the University of Oxford. Dubbed as “the world’s first ultra-realistic AI humanoid robot artist”, she is the subject of a solo exhibition of eight drawings, 20 paintings, four sculptures and two video works that she has created.
Ai-Da, the creation of inventor and gallery owner Aidan Meller, is able to draw things from life using an inbuilt camera, a mechanical arm and algorithms developed by scientists from Oxford University. In order for her to draw, her camera analyzes which ever object at hand and is able to create a virtual path that feeds into an execution algorithm that produces real-space coordinates for the robotic arm to follow. Ai-Da is able to draw pencil portraits of people by scanning their features with the cameras in her eyes and using her arm to map out the pathways and coordinates on paper.
A 3D-printed sculpture of a bee was created by combining a drawing that she completed of a micro-CT scan of a real-life bee. The drawing was then fed into an AI Bees Algorithm that used swarm intelligence to interpret the coordinates and create pathways for the drawing. What resulted was a distorted bee which was then rendered by a scientist in Sweden, who 3D-printed the figure and cast it in bronze.
The exhibition, called Unsecured Futures, sees Ai-Da performing. She starts with pencil sketching before switching to paint and clay, and then reciting poetry in her videos.
“The exhibition questions our relationship with technology and the natural world by presenting how AI and new technologies can be simultaneously a progressive, disruptive and destructive force within our society,” said the gallery in a statement.
“As a humanoid robot, she is an art object in herself, raising questions surrounding biotechnology and trans-humanism,” it added.
Ai-Da, who was created not long ago in April, has already seen her art snapped up.
“It’s a sold out show with over a million pounds worth of artworks sold,” Meller said.
Unsecured Futures is on show at St John’s College, The Barn Gallery, St Giles, Oxford, from 12 June until 6 July 2019.