Ai-Da Sketches Famous, Regular People for Art Show at U of Oxford

The robotic artist Ai-Da made a splash in the British art world when all of “her” works sold out and brought in $1.27 million in a show called “Unsecured Futures.”

The theme of the artworks shown at the University of Oxford’s Barn Gallery, the ethics of artificial intelligence and what it means to be human, apparently captured the imagination of the crowd attending. According to a story, the robot was made by the same designers as those used on the HBO series “Westworld.”

Ai-Da’s creator, gallery director Aiden Meller, said the world’s first realistic AI robot artist is named after Ada Lovelace, a 19th-century countess, who was the world’s first computer programmer. Robotic creators Engineered Arts, with AI algorithms created by experts at the University of Oxford, designed Ai-Da. She can “see” with the aid of two cameras in each eye that are connected to a computer vision program managed by an algorithm. That gives her the ability to draw a person standing in front of her.

Her artistic style, cubism, enables her to create impressionistic images that vary. Her drawings included a mix of famous figures, such as Da Vinci and Alan Turing, as well as ordinary people and self-portraits.

“Ai-Da’s pencil is attached to a 500-year-old block of wood⏤a nod to Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, who died 500 years ago this year. Ai-Da can draw, but she cannot paint… yet. But they have used coordinates from her drawings to produce paintings and sculptures.”

The engineers and gallery director behind the art exhibit wanted to make people think about the future of AI.

“The advances that we’re going through now with AI and biotechnology and transhumanism are going at an unbelievable pace, ethics is sadly lacking behind gravely and as a result of that we have created Ai-Da to be a voice to engage questions about where future technologies are going.”

Ai-Da with an abstract painting and a self-portrait. (credit: University of Oxford)