Can a robot write poetry? Ai-Da responds to Dante
A creative robot named Ai-Da is to appear at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum on Friday 26 November to give three public performances of poems she has written using her artificial intelligence, in response to Dante's Divine Comedy.
Ai-Da's works pose the question: can a robot really write poetry? Her poetic response to the words of Dante comes through her AI language model, which draws from a vast data bank of words and speech pattern analysis.She is taking part in the 700th anniversary celebrations of Dante's death (1265–1321), at the Ashmolean Museum's new exhibition Dante: The Invention of Celebrity.
Ai-Da is seen as a humanoid robot artist who uses her own specially designed artificial intelligence to create art. She was devised in Oxford by Aidan Meller (UK), built in Cornwall by Engineered Arts (UK), and programmed internationally.
She has a "RoboThespian" body, featuring an expressive range of movements, and also has the ability to talk. Ai-Da has legs but she cannot walk, although she can stand upright or sit upright in a chair. Her arms move freely, as does her torso and head. She can also lean forward and back, wave her arms, and look around in all directions.
She was recently briefly detained by the Egyptian authorities, who were suspicious of the cameras in her eyes. Her artwork reflects on the power of sight and surveillance in the modern world, its propensity to elicit distrust, and the tension it can create.
Meller told the Guardian: “We’re well aware that the fictions of 1984 and Brave New World are now facts. AI is developing rapidly. For the first time tens of thousands of graduates will have degrees in machine learning. The supercomputer can use vast data and process extraordinary algorithms. We predict by 2025 there will be big disruption with technology, and Ai-Da is trying to use art to bring attention to that.”