Ai-Da Robot: Making history, raising questions on art, robotics, and ethics

Deyvid Dimitrov
Deyvid Dimitrov
April 5th, 2022 4 mins to read

On Monday the 4th of April, Ai-Da showcased a new robotics arm which allows her to paint using a palette and a brush like artists have for centuries, marking a pivot point in history becoming the first humanoid robot to do so. This comes ahead of her first major art exhibition in Venice’s famous Giardini area. It will take place during the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.

In 2019 Ai-Da robot made history as the world’s first ultra-realistic humanoid robot capable of drawing people from life using the cameras in her eyes, her AI algorithms, and a pencil in her robotic hand. On the 4th of April she left her mark again, when she previewed a new cutting-edge painting arm that uses ground-breaking AI algorithms and robotics, allowing Ai-Da to paint from life using a colour palette as human artists have for centuries - something never achieved before by a humanoid robot. This poses questions that many have been too afraid to ask in the past few years especially seeing how quickly technology has been able to disrupt large sections of society. And this is the same reason why Aidan Meller - the creator of the project decided to go on this venture in the first place. He wanted to not just showcase the artworks of a robot but start the conversations about data harvesting, the future of creativity, and the direction in which humanity has been pointing in general.

I attended the presentation at the British Library in a room full of journalists and photographers. There was an uneasy feeling of the unexpected. A group of eyes were dividing their attention between the people walking in and staring back - Ai-Da would look at you as you walk in, look at someone else and then stare at you a bit longer sending you a smile.

As an artist one could feel the threat for the first time and question whether robots could become creative and if so, how would the trajectory of evolution of robotics look like. Just imagine a robot like Ai-Da becoming creative enough (as they already possess an abundance of information) that they are able to start producing more robots in the future.

Aidan Meller shares with us the famous words of Alan Turing:

“Human characteristics could never be imitated by a machine…such attempts and their results would have something like the unpleasant quality of artificial flowers.”

On 23rd April 2022, Ai-Da Robot, the world’s first ultra-realistic humanoid robot artist, will open a major contemporary art exhibition in Venice’s famous Giardini during the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.

While robot artworks have been exhibited during La Biennale di Venezia in previous years, 2022 will mark the first time an ultra-realistic humanoid robot artist presents a solo exhibition of artworks during La Biennale di Venezia as a human artist would.

Titled Leaping into the Metaverse, Ai-Da Robot’s exhibition will take place at the Concilio Europeo Dell'Arte venue, InParadiso Gallery in the Giardini. Presented over five connected spaces, the exhibition will explore the interface between human experience and AI technology, from Alan Turing to the Metaverse, and will draw on Dante’s concepts of Purgatory and Hell to explore the future of humanity in a world where AI technology continues to encroach on everyday human life.