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Ai-Da, the World’s First Ultra-Realistic Robot, Falls Asleep While Addressing Parliament

Ai-Da, widely referred to as the world’s first ultra-realistic robot, is also one of the most accomplished we have so far. She is an artist who can paint, write poetry and recite, and sing. Even robotic artists grow tired, though.
Ai-Da the robot addresses the House of Lords in the UK to discuss technology and art 14 photos
Photo: Parliament TV
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This week, Ai-Da made history once more, becoming the first robot ever to address the House of Lords in the British Parliament. She (Ai-Da is a “she” with everyone involved in the project) was invited for a discussion on art, specifically on the issue of whether technology is perverting or improving it. In short, Ai-Da was there to argue that technology, like herself, was no danger to art.

Ai-Da gave a brief speech and she took questions from politicians. All questions had been pre-approved, to allow high quality answers from the robot, and were nothing out of the extraordinary, as you can see in the video below: Ai-Da argued that her creations were still art, even though not inspired by subjective experience, and talked vaguely about how technology could be a means for good or evil, depending on its application.

With her was Aidan Meller, an Oxford art dealer and entrepreneur who designed her and is the director of the project. And it was Meller who had to step in when Ai-Da fell asleep as she was waiting for a question from Baroness Featherstone. It’s ok if you feel like making a joke about how politics is boring.

The video below also shows the exact moment when Ai-Da zoned out and remained unresponsive, with British media outlets describing her state as “zombie-like.” Apocalyptic comparisons aside, Ai-Da needed a restart, so Meller gave her just that – but not before placing a pair of sunglasses on her face because she can “pull quite interesting faces” after a reset.

This funny glitch aside, Ai-Da remains a great platform to study the way in which technology can be used to create art. As noted above, she can draw and paint, using the cameras in her eyes to take in a subject and her robotic arm to recreate it on canvas. She can also write and recite poetry, and even sing – and, of course, she can speak in very clear and sensible sentences. When she’s not dozing off, that is.

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About the author: Elena Gorgan
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Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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