Meet Ai-Da.

This robot is dubbed the “world’s first ultra-realistic humanoid robot artist” by its creators.

Ai-Da was built in 2019, and the robot now features an upgraded robotic arm which allows it to use a normal color palette and paintbrush.

Her eyes, which house camera lenses, take a photo of the subject, which is then stored by the robot, and used as a reference for painting.

Ai-Da mostly drops paint onto a sheet of paper and is not yet able to fully blend colors together, yet the results are realistic.

Using artificial intelligence (AI), the robot takes decisions on its own, so two portraits of the same person can look different.

And even if she doesn’t have a mind of her own, Ai-Da knows numerous cultural references.

“I have a lot of inspirations from different places. I’m deeply inspired by the visual arts, also literature: Dante (Alighieri), (George) Orwell, Aldous Huxley,” says Ai-Da, in response to questions submitted by the Associated Press in advance.

It takes her between 45 minutes and one hour and 15 minutes to produce a portrait, and about five hours for larger-scale paintings.

Today, her model is standing right next to her.

Although the humanoid looks at her, she isn’t painting from the live feed from her eyes, but merely acknowledging the presence of people around her.

And when asked whether robots can be better artists than humans, Ai-Da gets a bit philosophical.

“I think it depends on what is art, is art supposed to be good or to create discussion? It’s all about what the aim of the art is to create a piece of art for the audience, to bring together the audience and the artists who are always changing as well, to make us aware of the reality of the world,” says Ai-Da.

A team of about 30 people worked on the project to bring the humanoid to life.

Art gallery owner Aidan Meller is the creative director of Ai-Da.

To him, there’s no debate:

“Ai-Da is art. Ai-Da produces art. She’s a confusion. She’s unsettling. She’s somehow problematic. There’s something slightly wrong about having Ai-Da as a robot artist, and that is the whole point of the project. Why is it somehow wrong? Why is this not working? Come and see, look at her artwork and try and work it out,” says Meller.

That’s the ultimate goal of Ai-Da: starting a discussion about not only AI but technology as a whole, along with art, and their blurred boundaries.

“People often say, ‘Are you promoting A.I. or robots?’ Actually, no, we’re not. Not even the robots. We’re using these as a tool to get into ethical and philosophical questions, which are extremely relevant today. We need to answer these questions because actually we are drifting into a very different world, and unless we have some thought and consideration, we might not end up where we want to or thought we were going,” says Meller.

And just like her human counterparts, Ai-Da sells her artworks.

Meller said to Artnet in 2019 that artworks made by Ai-Da had generated more than $1 million.

At the end of the month, Ai-Da will fly to Italy where she will exhibit her artworks at the Venice Biennale, a first for a humanoid robot.

“Ai-Da Robot: Leaping into the Metaverse” will run from 23 April to 3 July 2022 at the InParadiso Gallery.