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Meet Ai-Da, the First Ultra-Realistic Robot Artist

Mariam Youssef - Nov 2021

Ai-Da, a humanoid robot that is considered the world's first ultra-realistic robot artist, was invented by Aidan Meller in the UK in 2019. She was named after the first female computer programmer in the world, Ada Lovelace. Ai-Da is an AI “Artificial Intelligence” robot that can create drawings, paintings, and sculptures. Her AI algorithms and drawing arm were created by the two Egyptian engineers, Salah El and Ziad Abass. The robot gained the world’s attention when they saw her ability to draw people with a pencil using the cameras in her eyes and her bionic arms. The robot started to present her work at the Great Pyramid of Giza on Thursday, October 21st and that’s the first contemporary art that has been permitted next to the pyramid in a very long time.

As soon as Ai-Da was imported to Egypt, she was detained for 10 days by customs for fear of spyware. However, she was released after the completion of the customs clearance procedures. The Egyptian authorities detained Ai-Da for suspecting her modem and the cameras in her eyes. The inventor, Aidan Meller, offered to remove the modem but wasn’t able to remove the cameras that are necessary for her to draw.

The AI algorithms created by the Egyptian engineers are what makes the robot able to draw through what the cameras in her eyes record. Besides her ability to draw, Ai-Da can engage in real conversations. Her robotic arm enables her to hold a pencil and draw, and her silicone face, designed by Lucy Seal, Alex Kafoussias, and ​3D designer Tim Milward, makes it look like a living person!

The robot’s painting style is explanatory, influenced by artists from the early 20th century, such as Käthe Kollwitz, Max Beckmann, and Pablo Picasso. The fact that robots started doing human creative art might be a bit threatening to the current artists. However, with the wide use of AI in artistic works, the creators of Ai-Da believe that they’re expanding the tools that are available for people to create.

Ai-Da was supposed to participate in a contemporary art exhibition in the pyramids area, but because of her late release, she couldn’t make it. The artistic robot and her works were sent in special boxes by airmail to Cairo to participate in the “Forever is Now” exhibition, held by Art D’Egypte, which runs until November 7th.

Ai-Da was completed in 2019 and she was a great success. Her artworks were displayed in British museums.

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