Ai-Da, an impressive AI-based robot artist, recently made a name for himself by reciting his own poetry in front of a human audience.
In a rather remarkable first, a humanoid robot gave a public performance at the University of Oxford. To celebrate the 700th anniversary of the death of the illustrious Italian poet Dante Alighierin, Ai-Da – that’s his name – recited several poems he had composed using artificial intelligence.
For this, its designers provided it with the entire text of the Divine Comedy, one of the historical masterpieces of medieval literature. Its 14,223 lines have been milled by a system based on artificial intelligence; the result allowed Ai-Da to propose his own text inspired by the master’s work.
A multi-talented opportunity
According to its designers interviewed by the Guardian, it is “the very first time that a robot wrote and recited its own poetry, as a human poet would”. But this is not the first time that this robot is illustrated by its artistic prowess. In 2019, she had already impressed her world by making a portrait of a human using two cameras and a pencil. She then became “the first robot in the world to be able to draw without human intervention”.
In an interview with CNN, its designer Aidan Meller said that Ai-Da’s poetry was almost indistinguishable from that of a human. “If you read it, you would have no idea that it was not written by a human”, He says. This is probably defensible if one is satisfied with the text, but which quickly falls into the depths of the valley of the strange as soon as one watches the corresponding video.
A thought experiment on our relationship to language
But if we disregard this disturbing face as much as possible, it is in any case a very interesting proof of concept. In particular, it asks many philosophical questions about our relationship to writing and art in general. This is also the primary objective of the robot, by the very admission of its designer. “The Ai-Da project was developed to discuss the ethics of the development of AI in its ability to mimic humans and their behavior.”, Explains Aidan Meller. “We finally come to a point where technology has a major impact on all aspects of life.”, He adds. “We are now seeking to understand the profound implications of this technology, and what it can teach us about ourselves.. ”
For this reason, Ai-Da is not intended to make a career in order to make money. It will be used to explore our relationship to art and how we conceptualize it. And for its creator, this is an issue that it is important to address now. “All of us should care about the use of AI-based language models.”, Warns Meller in his interview with CNN. “In the future, we’ll have to look at how they change language, and especially how we make sense of what we say. If programs, rather than humans, create content that impacts the human psyche and society, then that creates a critical paradigm shift in the way we have to design our language. And this is something we absolutely must discuss”, He concludes.