Ai-Da, the British robot artist arrested in Cairo as a “spy” –

Ai-Da, the British robot artist arrested in Cairo as a “spy” –
Ai-Da, the British robot artist arrested in Cairo as a “spy” –
from Luigi Ippolito

Released after the ambassador’s intervention, she will be able to exhibit her work

LONDON – We already knew that in Egypt the repression put in place by the dictatorship of Al Sisi does not stop at nothing: but this time the thugs of the regime were even able to arrest a robot. Indeed, “a” robot-artist, that is Ai-Da, the artificial creature who came into the world two years ago in Great Britain and is now world famous for the pictures he paints.

Ai-Da had to participate in Forever Is Now, an international contemporary art exhibition at the Pyramids: but she was stopped at the airport and confiscated from her companions. Apparently, she posed a security risk due to the cameras hidden in her eyes – in other words, they accused her of being a spy.

The robot was kept “in the cell” for ten days: and only at the last moment, thanks to the intervention of the British embassy, ​​was she released and yesterday she was able to take part in the exhibition. «She is a robot-artist – said her« creator », Aidan Meller – we must be clear, she is not a spy. People are afraid of robots, I understand: but the whole situation is ironic, because the purpose of Ai-Da is precisely to emphasize and warn against the abuses of technology. But she was detained because she is technological ». During the days of the kidnapping, Meller was concerned that the robot could be physically damaged: “It’s the most sophisticated ultra-realistic robot in the world.”

After her release yesterday, Ai-Da had her photograph taken in front of the Pyramids: it is the first time that an art exhibition, organized under the patronage of Unesco, takes place in the famous archaeological complex and the robot is one of the ten artists chosen to participate. The work he presented is a sculpture that reinterprets the enigma of the Sphinx: a huge self-portrait in clay with three legs.

In these two years of “life”, Ai-Da has exhibited in various British museums, from the Tate Modern to the Design Museum to Victoria & Albert: and on the occasion of its London debut the Courier service he had had the opportunity to meet her and “interview her”. An experience, this, quite disturbing: Ai-Da looks at you blinking and responds in kind to the questions, often ringing philosophical reflections. He looks around, captures reality through his artificial eyes and paints what he sees with his mechanical arm. One of his works was also used on the cover of the Reading, the cultural supplement of the Courier service.

«A new voice for the artistic world», wrote the New York Times
; “In every respect as valid as many of today’s abstract artists,” echoed the Daily Telegraph; “It blurs the boundary between machine and artist,” he concluded Time. Because Ai-Da is not a kind of big printer – its creator emphasized – that would limit itself to reproducing what it records: the works it creates are almost abstract, they are the result of a reworking that is different and unpredictable every time.

Ai-Da was invented by a group of Oxford engineers and uses a complex artificial intelligence mechanism developed at the famous British university. Its name is a play on words between AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Ada Lovelace, the English mathematician of the nineteenth century, daughter of Lord Byron, famous for having created the first algorithm that is the basis of modern computers.

The result is a humanoid robot capable of learning and reworking reality. In his curriculum there are collaborations with real artists, a Ted Talk and even an interview with the artistic director of the Royal Academy in London.

October 21, 2021 (change October 21, 2021 | 23:11)


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