Robot art goes on display in London

Multi-talented: Ai-Da’s art is a mixture of drawing, painting and photography. © Getty

Can machines be creative? Visitors are rushing to see self-portraits painted by a robot. Some say it could be the future of art. But others say only humans can be truly imaginative.

What’s happening

A small group of visitors walk into the gallery. Around them are lots of pictures. They show a woman with short brown hair. In each one, she is in a different pose.

Then, the woman from the pictures comes into the room. “Hello,” she says. “I am Ai-Da. I am the world’s first… robot artist.”

Find out more

A collection of self-portraits painted by a machine are on display in London.

From far away, Ai-Da looks just like a normal person. She has short, shiny brown hair. Her face is realistic. She can open her mouth and speak. She recognises people and even wears normal clothes.

But close up, Ai-Da looks very different from a human. Her arms are clearly made of metal. And instead of eyes, she has cameras. They take pictures of everything around her. Ai-Da then makes new artwork based on what she “sees” through her eyes.

Ai-Da’s creators say she can make us think more about what it means to be creative.

But not everyone is a fan. After her first show in 2019, one art critic said she was a “gimmick”.

Can machines really be creative?

Some say…

Yes! Robots are precise. They can copy what they see perfectly. Studies show that people cannot tell the difference between art by humans and robots. That is proof! Besides, Ai-Da has made millions selling her paintings. People would not spend so much money if they did not think her work was real art.

Others think…

Of course not. Art is not just about getting lines right and creating realistic pictures. It is all about how the artist feels. Mistakes are sometimes what make art special. Robots will always be able to copy styles by human artists. That is what they are good at. But they will never be able to create original works of art.

You Decide

  1. Can robots ever be as creative as humans?

Activities

  1. Write a story set in the future about a school with a robot art teacher.

Some People Say...

“We are fascinated by robots because they are reflections of ourselves.”

Ken Goldberg, (1961 – ), American artist, writer and inventor

What do you think?

Word Watch

Gallery
A room or building where people look at works of art.
Ai-Da
Named after Ada Lovelace, a mathematician who was born in 1815.
Self-portraits
A picture of the artist drawing or painting it.
Recognises
To see something or somebody and know them from a previous encounter.
Creative
Creativity is the ability to think up and design new inventions or new art and to solve problems in new ways.
Art critic
Somebody whose job it is to look at art and judge and write about it.
Gimmick
A method or trick somebody uses to get people’s attention or get them to buy something.

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