Do This AI Robot’s Self-Portraits Count as Art?

With the new surge in artificial intelligence’s abilities, more people are asking what constitutes art. AI images from text prompts in programs like DALL-E and Midjourney are everywhere these days and are constantly improving. The existence of an artificially intelligent robot named Ai-da also means we have to ask what constitutes an artist. Ai-da exhibited a series of self-portraits at London’s Design Museum last year, which you can see in the video below. She continues to create art so us mere mortals must confront how technology and creativity intersect.

We learned about Ai-da on Boing Boing. She is named after Ada Lovelace, the 19th century mathematician widely regarded as the first computer programmer. Ai-da’s metal hand can hold a pencil and she draws what her camera eyes see. Her programming dictates that she never sketches the same thing twice. She has a silicone head and torso and rocks several different hairstyles. Via a computerized voice, Ai-da has even given a TEDx Talk about herself and what her art means for humanity and the future of artificial intelligence. 

Ai-da, an AI robot, next to one of her self portraits
euro news

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans like me may be getting flashbacks a different Aida. Season four’s villain, and one of the best of the entire series, A.I.D.A. began as an artificial intelligent digital assistant. She desires to be real and transforms herself and then the world around her to suit her selfish purposes. She even declares herself Madame Hydra and eventually gains human emotions and inhuman powers. What could possibly go wrong? Hopefully this real-life Ai-da won’t get her robot hands on the Darkhold and head down a dark path.

Aida and Fitz in Agents of SHIELD
Marvel Television

Pop culture is full of creative people asking what artificial intelligence means for humanity. Here’s hoping it won’t turn out as badly, or put us on the darkest timeline, now that we have the technology to act it out in reality.

Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She never turns down an opportunity to talk about the Framework. Melissa also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth. 

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