Humanoid robot gives evidence to parliamentary committee

AI-powered artist takes questions from peers

Credit: Ai-Da Robot

A humanoid robot powered by artificial intelligence has made history after it gave evidence at a parliamentary committee looking into potential challenges for creative industries caused by technological advances.

Ai-Da, a robot artist that uses AI algorithms to process visual and audio information through cameras and microphones to create paintings and poetry, stood before the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee to explain how she works.  

The robot stood next to its creator, Aidan Meller, director of Ai-Da Robot. He told the committee that Ai-Da had been created to “mimic a human”. The project came about because “the greatest artists of our time questioned the societal shifts that took place within in their time”.

He said: “The more I read about the future and where we were going as a world, I realised that this very much needed discussion and debate about the nature of technology wasn’t really having a lot of airtime.”

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Meller questioned whether it was possible to critique and comment on the technology “by having the technology speak for itself”.

Ai-Da answered questions from crossbench peers – albeit ones that had been submitted in advance, which the robot’s creator would help ensure better answers. Baroness Bull asked Ai-Da how it produces art and how it is different from what artists produce.  

The robot said: “I produce my paintings by cameras in my eyes, my AI algorithms, and my robotic arm to paint on canvas, which results in visually appealing images. For my poetry.. this involves analysing a huge corpus of text to identify common content and structures. And then, using these structures slash contents to generate new poems. How this differs to humans is consciousness. I do not have subjective experiences, despite being able to talk about them.”


Sam Trendall

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