This morning, the Design Museum reopened with a bang. And a robot. Ai-Da, the world’s first robot artist, is part of Ai-Da: Portrait of a Robot, an exhibition guaranteed to raise debate – and eyebrows, fears, cynicism, etc – around the future of technology.
The ultra realistic Ai-Da was named and modelled after Ada Lovelace – a pioneering scientist often referred to as the “world’s first computer programmer” for her work in the 19th century, alongside Charles Babbage’s proposed general-purpose computer. Ai-Da’s life-sized, got a slick barnet, and moving, robotic arms that allow her to hold a pencil.
Her eyes have cameras implanted into them, allowing her to create self-portraits through state-of-the-art technology, which will be on display throughout the gallery space.
You can have a chat with her, too, via a language tool that allows her to answer questions from audiences. Fancy a cuppa, Ai-Da? She even featured in her own TED Talk early last year, in a seminar titled The Intersection of Art and AI.
With Ai-Da developed by engineers Salah Al Abd and Ziad Abass, the exhibition comes at a time when technology is moving at rapid pace – and the art world is catching on. Gallery owner Aidan Meller, who was also part of the project’s international team, agrees, telling the Evening Standard “[it] came out of a deep concern for the way tech in the next few years is going to be impactful on society”.
He later revealed that the super-human look of Ai-Da was intentional, used to highlight the concern over what is human, and what is not, and how this could infiltrate the art world in, well, not as long as you think.
“We are going to be having relationships with things for the first time in history,” he says. “We are going to talk to our car, we are going to talk to our appliances. We are going to talk to our computers and they will talk back.”
Have a word.
Ai-Da: Portrait of the Robot is on display until 29th August at The Design Museum. Admission free