“Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life”.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1889)

When Leonardo Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa in 1504, he hoped to replicate the beauty and natural essence of his subject. If the recent assessment of Da Vinci’s work – a $380 million dollar price tag for the painting – is any indication, I’d say Da Vinci did a spectacular job.

But what if technology could take Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to an entirely new level and use computer-generated facial recognition software to bring Mona to life? Well, it has.

As we mark the start of WS’s month-long series on women in technology, we’ll consider how some of the amazing work done by technology changemakers in history is truly life imitating art.

That said, I don’t think Da Vinci could ever have imagined the extent humans would go to bring art to life.

It not surprising that many people would ask: why do it? This new form of technologically-driven art may create a more dynamic interaction for people and art, but it also raises concerns around the ethical and moral, long-term effects of technology.  See:

Technology can open doors to medical advances that benefit mankind – think doctors working remotely to see patients thousands of miles away or new medical procedures that hasten recovery time and provide an improved quality of life.

But using a photo of a subject and adding a computer algorithm to capture and map major facial features like the eyes, face, and mouth might create something akin to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It’s quite possible these “living portraits” can create entirely new problems or be used in devious ways to make it look like people did things they didn’t.

Technology is good when used in responsible ways, but the interpretation of responsible is open to discussion. It’s clear as technology continues to expand its reach into our lives, that critical regulations and ethical clarity will be some of the most pressing issues of our time.

Visit PARADOX to read more about this subject and stories like Jean Liu’s challenge with Didi – a big Uber-like car service in China – and the tech issues around safety and data privacy. See you Wednesday, as we share the revolutionary story of Grace Hopper, the first woman to graduate with a Ph.D. from Yale University.

Rose McInerney

Author Rose McInerney

Rose combines her love of all things artfully-designed to connect women to a shared community of learning and a richer, more fulfilled self. As a passionate storyteller, published writer, and international traveler, Rose believes women can build a better world through powerful storytelling.

More posts by Rose McInerney

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