What comes to your mind when we talk about artificial intelligence? Well, most people associate it with all the books or movies, where fiction’s presence is really strong. Actually, AI is the reason for all these plots’ existence because precisely AI is the inspiration for all these writers and screenwriters out there who created their books and movies.

On October 23, 2021 an exhibition presented by the organization Art D’Egypte in partnership with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and Tourism, took place at the Great Pyramids of Giza in Cairo, where Ai-Da was a part of the event.

Ai-Da Robot conceived by Aidan Meller. Photo Credits: Frieze

However, are we inclined to associate AI with art or poetry? Well, Ai-Da can create it. She is a highly realistic robot, which was invented by Aidan Mellar in Oxford, central England and she spends most of her time writing poems and creating art.  On Friday she even gave a public performance of poetry she wrote, using her own algorithms in celebration of the great Italian poet Dante.
The event took place at the University of Oxford’s renowned Ashmolean Museum as part of an exhibition marking the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death.

Her poem was inspired and produced as a response to Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’. Ai-Da’s poem was described as “deeply emotive” by her creator Meller and includes the following verse:

“We looked up from our verses like blindfolded captives,

Sent out to seek the light; but it never came

A needle and thread would be necessary

For the completion of the picture.

To view the poor creatures, who were in misery,

That of a hawk, eyes sewn shut.”

According to Mellar, his robot’s ability to imitate human writing is “so great, if you read it you wouldn’t know that it wasn’t written by a human”. He shared that when AZi-Da was reading her poem on Friday evening “it was easy to forget that you’re not dealing with a human being.”

“The Ai-Da project was developed to address the debate over the ethics of further developing AI to imitate humans and human behavior,” Meller told CNN. “It’s finally dawning on us all that technology is having a major impact on all aspects of life and we’re seeking to understand just how much this technology can do and what it can teach us about ourselves.”

Meller said one key thing he and the team that work with Ai-Da have learned while developing her is that the project hasn’t taught them how “human she is — but it’s shown us how robotic we are as humans.” By watching her behaviour, which was based on the way a real human being behaves in their everyday life, even for a second, you can think that the actual robots actually are us.  Meller also commented:

“Through Ai-Da and through the use of AI, we can learn more about ourselves than ever before — Ai-Da allows us to gain a new insight into our own patterns and our own habits, as we see her imitate them right in front of us.

As we mentioned, Ai-Da can also create artworks which is one of the reasons she is so impressive. She made an artwork for the Dante exhibition titled “Eyes Wide Shut”. It was created in response to an incident in Egypt in October – Egyptian security forces wanted to remove the cameras in her eyes because of their concerns over surveillance and security. Mellar said that the incident showed just how much nervousness there is in the world around technology and its advancements.

Her creator is aware of the concerns over the increasingly advanced development of artificial intelligence but he thinks that “technology on its own is benign — it’s those that control it whose intentions could be morally and ethically questionable.”Mellar said:

“The biggest fear we should have should be of ourselves and the human capability to use technology to oppress, not of the AI itself.”

In his opinion Ai-Da can be a pioneer in the world of AI and her productions will push the boundaries of what can be achieved in technology and will help us to learn more about ourselves thanks to the robot’s eyes.

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