Artistic robot Ai-Da and its creator Aidan Meller pose with her portrait. (Source:

Getting Ai-Da the Artist Robot into Egypt Caused an International Incident

Do you remember Sophia? She is an AI-driven, human-looking, language-speaking robot that was so realistic that Saudi Arabia made her a citizen. Well, another country in the Middle East didn’t have the same love for another AI-driven robot. And this one is even an artist.

We found the story of  Ai-Da on this week.  Ai-Da was supposed to have a showing of her art at the Pyramids. That in itself is very impressive.

However, Egyptian border guards don’t seem to be big art lovers. They detained and held the robot for 10 days. This almost made Ai-Da miss her big show.

According to the Ai-Da’s creator Aidan Meller, the robot was seized due to her suspicious modem. They then raised issues with Ai-Da’s eyes.

Unlike Ai-Da, Meller was compliant and offered to remove the modem but was unable to remove all of the essential cameras.

The robot transforms images recorded through its camera using Al algorithms. Therefore, removing the cameras would strip the creation of its built purpose. Now that would prove to be a problem for anyone’s robot. Meller told the Guardian :

“I can ditch the modems, but I can’t really gouge her eyes out.”

Ai-Da creates an invitation video for her pyramid show.

Ai-Da doesn’t just paint. She also sculpts with clay. And both of her mediums will be on display until November 7th as the first contemporary art exhibition at the Pyramids in Egypt. Ai-Da was finalized in 2019 and her artwork including the first-ever “self-portrait without self” has been displayed at the Victorian and Albert Museum in London and the Design Museum.

Yes, Ai-da’s algorithms will be a success, but they will probably infuriate a lot of human artists in Egypt that would love a show like that. But those are the breaks sometimes.