Meet Ai Da, the world’s first robot artist

Ai-Da, whose name is a combination of the acronym for artificial intelligence (AI) and a reference to Ada Lovelace – the English mathematician and writer well known for her advances in computing alongside Charles Babbage – is hosting her first ever exhibition, at St. John’s College Oxford – Unsecured Futures.

Ai Da, who was invented by gallery director Aidan Meller, has cameras installed behind her eyes that she uses to comb her surroundings, which in turn inform her creations. She has a mechanical arm developed at Leeds University, and algorithms developed by scientists at Oxford.

In order to draw, the camera analysis the object in front of it and creates a virtual path, which is fed into a path execution algorithm that produces real-space coordinates for the robotic arm.

“The exhibition questions our relationship with technology and the natural world by presenting how AI and new technologies can be simultaneously a progressive, disruptive and destructive force within our society,

As a humanoid robot, she is an art object in herself, raising questions surrounding biotechnology and trans-humanism,”

Ai Da uses facial-recognition to draw pencil portraits by scanning subjects’ features and using the robotic arm to map them on paper.

To create paintings, Ai-Da’s drawings are fed into AI algorithms that interact with the Cartesian plane to plot them along two axis and create abstract versions of her art.

Ai Da also performs at the exhibition, starting with with pencil sketches before moving onto paint and clay.