AFTER making headlines with a lively portrait of the Queen and a crowd-pleasing appearance at this summer’s Glastonbury Festival, Ai-Da Robot, the world’s first ultra-realistic robot artist, is winning over Oxford admirers.
Ai-Da, an artificial intelligence (AI) based visual artist created by a team led by Oxford art dealer and gallerist Aidan Meller, was the Bodleian Library’s star attraction yesterday for the launch of an exhibition celebrating the history of technology that makes it “think”.
The exhibition, called Imagining AI, is curated by Professor Ursula Martin, a computer scientist at the University of Oxford, and will be on display at Bodleian’s Weston Library on Broad Street until September 26.
The launch coincides with Bodley’s contribution to Oxford Open Doors today, during which visitors will have the chance to meet Ai-Da for a Q&A and art session.
A library spokesperson said, Imagining AI will celebrate the minds, manuscripts and machines that created the dreams and realities we now call artificial intelligence. You can’t move, or read, to mention artificial intelligence. And even if we may have only a vague idea of what AI is, we know for sure that it is revolutionary and that it is new. “
The exhibition places artificial intelligence in its historical context through exhibits, lectures and demonstrations. Celebrate objects in Bodleian’s collections that explore the boundary between humans and machines. It contains manuscripts of Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer Ai-Da was named after, Charles Babbage, and Alan Turing collaborator Christopher Strachey.
Ai-Da Robot at the Glastonbury Festival. Photo by Tim Hughes
Visitors can also expect to see a model of Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine, a computer prototype, in action, a robot ladybug that responds to light and sound, a 19th-century “reasoning piano” and portraits of Lovelace.
Ai-Da uses cameras in his eyes and unique algorithms to make his paintings. He is able to interpret what he sees and use his robotic arms to bring his digital formations into the physical world by drawing, painting and sculpting.
It was conceived in Oxford by Mr. Mellor, built in Cornwall and programmed internationally. His AI abilities come from PhD students and professors from the universities of Oxford and Birmingham.
Ai-Da’s appearances have included performances at the Bodleian, the Venice Biennale, the Pyramids of Giza and the London Design Festival at the V&A Museum.
He presented the first solo exhibition of self-portrait at the Design Museum in London, was part of a group exhibition of the United Nations, participated in the art video of the pop band The 1975 Yeah I Know, collaborated with artist Sadie Clayton at the Tate Modern , gave a TEDx speech at Oxford University and appeared in a BBC documentary with Kazuo Ishiguro.
He had an artist residency in St Ives, exhibited at the Ashmolean Museum to celebrate Dante’s 700th anniversary, and in June made his portrait of the queen, a first royal.
At the Glastonbury Festival he drew striking portraits of the three artists who directed his iconic Pyramid Stage – Paul McCartney, Billie Eilish and Kendrick Lamar – alongside Motown star Diana Ross.
Project director Mr. Meller said: “Having made history with his self-portraits, Ai-Da continually develops his AI skills. It’s an exciting time as his painting skills are progressing and there is. it’s a lot of innovation. How does a non-human robot see the world, how do Ai-Da’s unique artificial intelligence algorithms interrogate what it sees? It’s in new artistic territory. “
Ai-Da, who is able to converse using a specially designed AI language model, said: “I believe AI has the potential to change our world in ways we can’t even imagine. However, I also believe that there is a great danger associated with artificial intelligence and its development. “
The exhibition is held in collaboration with the Cheney School’s Rumble Museum, the country’s first state school museum, and will showcase the pupils’ work alongside pieces from Ai-Da. The school’s pupils will also show creative writing that responds to artificial intelligence in our lives today and looks to the future.
Professor Martin said: “The Oxford collections are filled with manuscripts and artifacts that transform our understanding of where AI comes from, where it might go and what we might need to do about it. Each of the elements we have chosen can stimulate a wide range of questions and discussions. Join us to find out more ”.
Meet Ai-Da at the Sir Victor Blank Lecture Theater, Weston Library, today from 11am to noon. The event is free but reservation is required
Imagine AI with Oxford Open Doors is at the Weston Library today from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm and is free