Ai-Da robot talking in House of Lords with creator Aidan Meller

LONDON (Reuters) – A robot dressed in a dungaree and a sharp black bob answered questions in Britain’s House of Lords for the first time in history this week — before it appeared to be sleeping and needs a reset.

Ahead of the public meltdown, female robots – called Ai-Da – spoke to the British Communications and Digital Commission as part of an inquiry into the future of the creative industries, and joined a discussion about how technology is shaping – and potentially disrupting – the art sector.

It was the first time in the nation’s history that a robot was seen in the upper chamber of the British Parliament, where unelected barons and lords usually gather to analyze government policies.

Aidan Miller, inventor of the robot and a specialist in modern and contemporary art said: Sky News before the session.

Labeled as “the world’s first ultra-realistic humanoid robot artist,” Ai-Da is widely known for creating portraits and poems, using a robotic arm, cameras in its eyes, and artificial intelligence algorithms. She told the house – no doubt to its creator’s pride – that the unique features allow it to create “visually appealing images”.

“I and I rely on computer software and algorithms,” Ai-da told the committee in London on Tuesday, slowly moving her head from side to side and occasionally blinking. “Even though I’m not alive, I can still create art.”

Ai-Da admitted she had no idea where the world was heading, but told panelists that technology presents a “threat and opportunity” for creativity.

She predicted that “the role of technology in creating art will continue to grow.”

Those present seemed intrigued but jokingly said they were frightened – especially when the robot fell to the floor after a question from Baroness Lynn Featherstone, a fellow Liberal Democrat.

“I sent her to sleep!” Featherston joked, while Miller, who was close to him, walked across the room to pick up a pair of sunglasses to put over Ida’s eyes.

Robot artist Ai-Da answers questions from British lawmakers during a session hosted by the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee on October 11 (Video: Reuters)

“Excuse me,” he said to the room. “Can I reset it? Is that okay?”

It was not immediately clear what caused the robot’s technical malfunction, and neither Miller nor IDA responded to a request for comment from The Washington Post on Thursday.

“When we reset it, it can sometimes pull up very interesting faces,” Miller explained to the attendees, who laughed and waited patiently for the robot to wake up.

Created in 2019, Ai-Da has experienced backlash at home and abroad during its short and simulated life.

Last year, she was held in Egypt for more than a week on suspicion that she might be part of a espionage plot, according to Miller.

Miller said Egyptian border guards detained her because of security concerns about the cameras in her eyes that enabled her to paint. He said that the British ambassador intervened to secure her freedom.

“I can’t really take her eyes off her,” He told The Guardian at the time. “Let’s be really clear about this. She is not a spy.”

She was released in time to participate in an exhibition at the Pyramids of Egypt.

A robot displays art in the pyramids. Its maker says it was detained by Egypt due to fears of espionage.

For the platinum jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II earlier this year, Ai-Da produced a selfie of the late king titled “Algorithm Queen”. Its owner praised the creation as the first painting of the Queen by a robot, while critics said the piece lacked emotion.

The Guardian’s art critic Jonathan Jones criticized the Ai-D image as “another example of the ironic and transparent deception of artificial intelligence art.”

Leave a Comment