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A robot painter will make the case for AI art before the House of Lords this week

Ai-Da, the world's first realistic robot 'artist', is named after Ada Lovelace  (David Parry/PA Wire)
Ai-Da, the world's first realistic robot 'artist', is named after Ada Lovelace (David Parry/PA Wire)

A human-looking robot painter that composed a painting of the late Queen Elizabeth II will appear in front of the House of Lords this week, to give a speech and address AI’s growing threat to the UK’s creative industries.

The robot, named Ai-Da after mathematician Ada Lovelace, will speak to the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee, as part of an inquiry into the future of the arts in the country.

Ai-Da was created by Aidan Meller, an Oxford art dealer, before being assembled in Cornwall by Engineered Arts with international programming support.

It has cameras in the eyes, robotic arms for creating art, and is powered by artificial-intelligence technologies for its speech. Its realistic facial features contribute to its human-like resemblance.

The robot has created paintings, sculpture, and performance art, and reportedly even has its own artistic temperament. It also can learn new artistic techniques as it produces more and more art.

‘Her abilities as an artist bring into question the foundations of the art world and the creative industries,’ Meller said.

There have been plenty of examples of how AI and technology are encroaching in a sector long thought safe from technological disruption.

In 2018, a portrait created by an AI program fetched $432,000 (£386,000) at auction in the US. Songs have been composed with AI technology, and companies, including Instagram-owner Meta, have released software that can create AI-generated video from just a few text sentences.

Of course, it is interesting to note that Ai-Da itself is intended as a work of art, almost as a statement to spur discussion of how our lives and work could be supplanted by robots.

Perhaps the musician Grimes summed it all up best last year. “I feel like we’re in the end of art, human art,” she said on theoretical physicist Sean Carroll’s Mindscape podcast. “Once there’s actually AGI (Artificial General Intelligence), they’re gonna be so much better at making art than us.”