“Named after British mathematician and computer pioneer Ada Lovelace, Ai-Da can draw from sight thanks to cameras in her eyeballs and AI algorithms created by scientists at the University of Oxford that help produce co-ordinates for her arm to create art.”

In June 2019, British inventor and gallery owner, Aidan Meller unveiled a robot named Ai-da. He hails her drawings, paintings, sculptures, and video works as the “new voice” of the art world. Ai-da can’t actually talk so the metaphorical voice of the art world is essentially a tech creation capable of reproducing and creating images.

Honestly know how I feel about Ai-da and her work, other than to say I find it hard to call her/it/whatever an artist. Ai-da has the physical features,to some extent, of a female but there’s something eerie about all of this technology.

Are you thinking the obvious questions that come to mind like why do we need Ai-da and can a robot truly be a voice of art?

I considered this claim by Meller in lieu of my great friend and WomanScape Art Ambassador, Arica Hilton. She is both a celebrated global artist and gallerist who promotes incredible works by other artists. But the thing is, they are all human. Their voice and artistic expression come from many parts of the world but each one is grounded in a sacred and shared place – humanity.

Sure, on the one hand, Meller’s robot is simply an extension of what we are already used to seeing when we use technology to manipulate human-made art. We do this in photographs, 3D art or video and sound recordings related to a performance piece. No doubt, we’ve opened the door to technology-infused art.

But there’s something eerie about Ai-da, like the female robot Sophie who made headlines in 2017.

I posed similar questions then when I looked to the future of AI. With Ai-da, where does inspiration and the voice of this artist meet?

There are a volley of questions that concern me. Will we be the last generation to produce art the way that it exists in nature? What effects will this have on the way we see the world, our human abilities to connect to each other, and the longer term effects on the cognitive processes and imagination of future generations?

Great questions with few answers – let’s think about it. Let’s think extra hard, knowing that young technologists like Justin Rosenstein (former Google and Facebook engineer) are sending their kids to schools that ban iphones, ipads and even laptops. If Meller’s Ai-Da is the Zeitgeist of our time, as he believes AI is, I’m wondering if it’s not too late to reclaim humanity as our next coming of age.

For more provocative stories about people changing the world in the tech industry, visit our August edition of WS Magazine.

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.

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