Ai–Da Robot, the world’s first ultra-realistic humanoid robot artist, has revealed her new portrait of Her Royale Highness Queen Elizabeth II, titled ‘Algorithm Queen’.
Ai-Da is a humanoid who’s been doingthe rounds this year at various museums and art conventions, to much excitement and bemusement. We got the chance to see Ai-Da a few months back, in Oxford, and we weren’t impressed. If anything, we left with a mixture of repulsion (Ai-Da is styled as a cool young woman, and attempts to make her attractive would be at least passable – in a Desert of the Real/traumatising way – were it not for her enormous HULKING mechanical arms) and mild dread (the humanoid could be yet again another indicator we’re hurtling with no brakes towards a techno-dystopia).
But now she’s gone and done a painting of the Queen. Whether she chose to do this or not or was programmed to (did you know the word ‘robot’ comes from the Slavic word ‘robota’ for forced labour) we’re unsure, but have a look for yourself:
It’s…decent. Not a catastrophic first time in history a humanoid robot has painted a member of the Royal Family, I’ll say. We’ve come a long way technologically, at least: at the time of the Queen’s coronation the first circuit board computers had only just been invented, a design which remained mainstream until the 1960s. Over her seventy-year reign, the Queen has witnessed an unprecedented burst of innovation in computer technology in the UK, including the birth of machine learning and artificial intelligence, forces shaping the modern world as we know it today.
Who and what is Ai-Da? Where did she come from?
Ai-Da is the world’s first ultra-realistic robot artist, named after Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer of all time. She’s the brainchild (brainbot?) of Brit Aidan Meller, built in Cornwall by Engineered Arts. Her AI capabilities come from PhD students and professors at the Universities of Oxford and Birmingham.
How does Ai-Da paint?
Ai-Da uses cameras in her eyes and her computer memory to start her portrait of the Queen. She uses a variety of her unique AI algorithms to paint, draw and abstract, and her artistic Bees algorithm (Evolutionary AI). She then uses her robotic arm to bring her digital formations into the physical world, through drawing and painting on to canvas. Her work is layered and scaled to give the final multi-dimensional portrait of Her Majesty – Ai-Da’s artistic process itself reflecting the many aspects of technological change that have taken place during the Queen’s 70-year reign.
Ai-Da ‘said’ of the painting and the ‘opportunity’ she was given to do it: “I’d like to thank Her Majesty the Queen for her dedication, and for the service she gives to so many people. She is an outstanding, courageous woman who is utterly committed to public service. I think she’s an amazing human being, and I wish The Queen a very happy Platinum Jubilee.”
And finally, a clip from the 2007 Ryan Gosling film Lars and the Real Girl, placed here without explanation and for your consideration…