Ai-Da – ultra-realistic robot artist that can paint and create pottery

Ai-Da can both draw and engage in lively discussion. Her robotic arm, developed by Salah Al Abd and Ziad Abass, enables her to hold a pencil, and her silicone face, designed by researcher Lucy Seal and digital artist Alex Kafoussias and ​3D designer Tim Milward, makes it appear as though she is ‘alive’. These features, and the movements and gestures that Ai-Da is programmed to perform, raise questions about human identity in a digital age.

As humans increasingly merge with technology, the self-titled robotic artist, Ai-Da, leads us to ask whether artworks produced by machines can indeed be called ‘art’.

Ai-Da the artist robot with her self-portraits. Photo courtesy the Design Museum.

Named in honor of the pioneering computer programmer Ada Lovelace, the artificial-intelligence-powered robot was created in 2019 by computer programmers, working with experts in both art and robotics, as well as psychologists. Ai-Da has previously shown work in London at the Design Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Ai-Da’s contribution is a clay sculpture, the statue—based on Ai-Da’s drawings, which were rendered into 3–D form by a computer scientist in Sweden—is a “self portrait” of the robot artist with three legs, suggesting possible genetic alterations through Crispr technology that might extend the human lifespan. That is a concern that the ancient Egyptians shared.