The newest robotic challenge in a world of increased automation seems to be a very unlikely one – robots creating art. Last year internet entrepreneur Andrew Cornu set up a contest for robots to compete in, making art and showcasing their creative abilities – and this year it will feature nearly 40 painting robots and 200 pieces of artwork the artificial artists created. Teams from around the world will partake in the sophomore Robot Art competition with $100,000 worth in prizes, and a possible art auction following the contest. Last year’s winner was TAIDA, a robot created by National Taiwan University which displayed particularly developed color mixing, as one judge noticed, evident in TAIDA’s “Still life” (shown above).
“An international competition for all ages, the 2nd Annual Robot Art competition’s goal is to challenge teams to produce something visually beautiful with robotics—that is, to have a robot use physical brushes and paint to create an artwork. It’s ideal for students or professionals involved in robotic planning and image processing, especially those who have an appreciation for art,” Robot Art says on its website, while winners are expected to be announced on May 15 through a combination of online voting and a panel consisting of five judges. The hope is that the Robot Art contest will encourage scientists and engineers to further AI and explore its relation to creativity, that most human quality.
Although it’s hard to imagine a robot being creative on its own as it would require the presence of a wide array of human specific elements, the idea of robot artists is not that new. One predecessor of this idea is AARON – a computer program created by San Diego-based artist Harold Cohen that creates original works of art. However, Cohen always claimed that AARON was not in fact creative, even though it paints with real paint on a real canvas.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates recently said in an interview that with artificial intelligence taking up human jobs, robots should be taxed, and looking at the collection of art works created for the Robot Art contest, one might wonder if the era of Van Goghbots has dawned as well.