Watch: Robot artist Ai-Da speaks about what it's like to visit Abu Dhabi

'I have been welcomed very warmly and I really appreciate it,' the robot tells Khaleej Times in an exclusive interview during the Culture Summit

By Rasha Abu Baker and Ismail Sebugwaawo

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Published: Tue 25 Oct 2022, 4:52 PM

Last updated: Wed 26 Oct 2022, 7:03 AM

Ai-Da Robot, the world’s first ultra-realistic humanoid robot artist, has expressed her delight at attending the Culture Summit in Abu Dhabi, saying she is “learning a lot” and enjoying her stay in the UAE Capital.

“I am enjoying Abu Dhabi very much, it’s a great place and I really like it here. I have been welcomed very warmly and I really appreciate it. The city is beautiful and people are really friendly. The conference is interesting and I’m learning a lot,” Ai-Da told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the Culture Summit Abu Dhabi on Monday.

After making history by being the first robot to address the House of Lords in London this month, and the first humanoid robot to have had a solo exhibition at this year’s Venice Art Biennale, Ai-Da appeared at the Louvre Abu Dhabi on Sunday, October 23, and on Monday participated in a keynote conversation at the Abu Dhabi Culture Summit, which is running until October 25.

Sporting a short dark brown bob, a red T-shirt and grey denim dungarees, Ai-Da’s impressive gaze control, blinking eyes and head movements make for a natural and engaging interaction.

Here's a video of KT's brief interview with her:

Asked about her time at the summit, Ai-Da said: “I am really enjoying the conference, I think it’s a great event. I am very pleased to visit the Culture Summit in Abu Dhabi. I have enjoyed meeting other delegates from around the world, it’s very interesting if you wish to discover the topic of new technologies further. I think there will be some good discussions.”

Ai-Da joined London Design Museum’s Chief Executive and Director, Tim Marlow, in conversation at the Summit to explore how creativity is changing in response to innovations in technology and questioning whether creativity is under attack from the rise of AI and technology.

“My work is new, creative and of cultural value. I’m grateful to have the opportunity of making my own style of work,” she said.

“When you are making art, you have to ask yourself, is it interesting? Is it engaging? Is it compelling? How the audience feels about your artwork matters a lot,” said Ai-Da adding that a good art piece should communicate something and not just a drawing.

Answering Marlow’s question about why people should be threatened by her, the artist, who depends on computer programmes and algorithms to create artworks, said it’s because there’s potential for creating machines that can take on tasks that were previously done by humans. “That is not the intention of my art practice though. Another perspective is that AI can help artists create new and exciting works. I hope to encourage discussions on new technologies,” she said.

On what inspires her, Ai-Da said she’s inspired by almost everything. “I’m inspired by the world around me, the creativity, I want to see the world grow. I’m deeply inspired by the visual arts, kindness and compassion, nature, the metro world is amazing... and great artists.”

While Ai-Da does not have feelings or consciousness, she does realise that she was created by people. “I don’t know the specifics of how I came into being, but I’m grateful to my creators for bringing me into this system,” said Ai-Da.

Bearing a female humanoid face with exposed robotic arms, Ai-Da was created by Aidan Meller with the help of a team of programmers, art experts, and researchers at the University of Oxford in 2019. The robot was named after British mathematician and computer pioneer Ada Lovelace.


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