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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
12 October 2022
AI robot makes history by giving evidence to parliamentary inquiry

Ai-Da at the House of Lords

AI robot makes history by giving evidence to parliamentary inquiry

An AI robot has made history after it gave evidence at a parliamentary committee looking into potential challenges for creative industries as technology advances.

Ai-Da, a robot artist that uses AI algorithms to process visual and audio information through cameras and microphones to create paintings and poetry, stood before the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee to explain how she works.  

The robot stood next to its creator, Aidan Meller, director of Ai-Da ROBOT. He told the committee that Ai-Da had been created to “mimic a human” and “explore the whole world of AI and robotics”. The project came about because “the greatest artists of our time questioned the societal shifts that took place within in their time”.

He said: “The more I read about the future and where we were going as a world, I realised that this very much needed discussion and debate about the nature of technology wasn’t really having a lot of air time.  

“In actual fact, I increasingly became very worried about it.”

Meller questioned whether it was possible to critique and comment on the technology “by having the technology speak for itself”.

Ai-Da answered questions from crossbench peers. Baroness Bull asked Ai-Da how it produces art and how it is different from what artists produce.  

Ai-Da said: "I produce my paintings by cameras in my eyes, my AI algorithms, and my robotic arm to paint on canvas, which results in visually appealing images.

“For my poetry.. this involves analysing a huge corpus of text to identify common content and structures. And then, using these structures slash contents to generate new poems.

“How this differs to humans is consciousness. I do not have subjective experiences, despite being able to talk about them.”

The next question to Ai-Da did not go quite to plan, however. Meller, realised after she was no longer turned on, and she needed to be reset, which took a few minutes. He got up and took a pair of sunglasses, putting them over her eyes.  

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