First Robot To Get Its Own Art Exhibition In London, England


The world has seen the first an anatomically correct sex robot, and the first-ever robot that received citizenship.

This time, Ai-Da is the first robot that gets its own major exhibition.

At London’s Design Museum in the summer of 2021, the exhibition is set to showcase the humanoid's works that are based on photos taken by its cameras.

Ai-Da’s exhibition is planned to feature a series of "self-portraits," which the robot created by photographing itself in front of a mirror.

As a robot, Ai-Da receives information what its cameras-as-eyes see. The data is then processed using algorithms to transform the images into a set of coordinates, which then can be used to guide the robot's drawing hand.

Some of the artworks have racked up over $1.2 million in sales, based on reports.

Ai-Da drawing herself by looking at her reflection
Ai-Da draws herself from what she sees by looking at her reflection. (Credit: Aidan Meller)

Its co-inventor, Aidan Meller, didn't want Ai-Da to represent photographic images, because if so, people would just think of it like some kind of an expensive photocopy machine.

The creator of the robot wanted more than that, and wanted Ai-Da to show the expressiveness of its creativity by running the input through algorithms.

To create Ai-Da, Meller got help from British robotics company Engineered Arts, and researchers at both Leeds and Oxford universities. Ai-Da was completed in April of 2019.

Ai-Da’s algorithms were designed to reflect the definition of creativity proposed by Margaret Boden, a professor of cognitive science at Sussex University.

While many people, including philosophers have argued that AI can never create real art, as the technology will never be an "autonomous creative agent" like human beings, Meller disagrees.

Meller who is also an art gallery director, believes that creativity is simply the ability to come up with new ideas or new artifacts that are surprising and/or valuable.

And Ai-Da can do that.

Ai-Da and creator Aidan Meller
Aidan Meller (left) and his creation Ai-Da (right), standing with one of the robot's artworks (Credit: James Robinson)

Meller said that:

“In actual fact, it’s turned out better than we anticipated, because when Ada looks at you with cameras in her eyes, to do a drawing, or a painting, she does a different one each time.”

“Even if she’s faced with the same image or same person, it would be a completely different outcome.”

In other words, Meller clarified that no two works by Ai-Da are ever the same.

"She is fully algorithmic... fully creative," Meller once told reporters.

Meller hopes Ai-Da can challenge the society's notion of identity, in a world that is still setting boundaries between man and machine. And one day, Meller also hopes that Ai-Da will eventually be able to intuitively communicate and perhaps describe her own artwork by herself.

"I think these self-portraits are quite remarkable in respect that they’re making us really face the fact that we are building relationships with technology rather than a conscious, sentient person," Meller added.

Ai-Da is named after programming pioneer Ada Lovelace, and Meller has co-invented the robot to make it have an appearance and voice of a female human being to make it more engageable.

Meller was eager for Ai-Da to adopt a female persona because he wants the art and coding worlds to have more women represented.