By KIM BELLARD
Six hundred years ago, Swiss physician/scientist/philosopher Paracelsus disclaimed: “Medicine is not only a science; it is also an art.” Medicine, most people in healthcare still believe, takes not just intelligence and fact-based decision-making, but also intuition, creativity, and empathy. This duality is often cited as a reason artificial intelligence (A.I.) will never replace human physicians.
Perhaps those skeptics have not heard about Ai-Da.
Now, I have to admit, “she” wasn’t on my radar either until recently, when she was imprisoned/impounded at customs by Egyptian authorities on her way to an art exhibit at the Great Pyramids of Giza, where she was scheduled to show her work. Egyptian authorities first objected to her modem, then to the cameras in her eyes. “I can ditch the modems, but I can’t really gouge her eyes out,” said her creator Aidan Meller. After a 10 day stand-off, she was released late last week.
Let me back up. Named in honor of famed 19th century mathematician/programmer Ada Lovelace, Ai-Da is “the world’s first ultra-realistic humanoid robot artist.” She was created in 2019, and uses AI algorithms to create art with her cameras/eyes and her bionic arms. She can draw, paint, even sculpt, and had her first major exhibit – Ai-Da: Portrait of the Robot — this summer at London’s Design Museum.
The description of her exhibit says:
As humans increasingly merge with technology, the self-titled robotic artist, Ai-Da, leads us to ask whether artworks produced by machines can indeed be called ‘art’…Ai-Da can both draw and engage in lively discussion…These features, and the movements and gestures that Ai-Da is programmed to perform, raise questions about human identity in a digital age.
Her website elaborates:
…current thinking suggests we are edging away from humanism, into a time where machines and algorithms influence our behaviour to a point where our ‘agency’ isn’t just our own. It is starting to get outsourced to the decisions and suggestions of algorithms, and complete human autonomy starts to look less robust. Ai-Da creates art, because art no longer has to be restrained by the requirement of human agency alone.Continue reading…