AI ‘robot whisperer’ creates abstract paintings, selling for up to $40,000; can you differentiate them from human art

Training Robot Dogs as Abstract Artists

Agnieszka Pilat, a Polish artist and self-proclaimed ‘robot whisperer,’ has embarked on a unique artistic endeavor, training AI-powered robot dogs to create abstract art.

Over the course of four months, Pilat worked with three four-legged machines developed by Boston Dynamics, teaching them to hold paintbrushes in their ‘mouths’ and manipulate them across large canvases, resulting in a collection of 36 autonomous paintings.

Inspiration from Human Artists

The paintings, showcased in Pilat’s exhibition titled ‘Heterobota,’ draw inspiration from the distinctive styles of renowned human artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Cy Twombly.

Some of these robot-created artworks have even been sold at auctions for impressive amounts, reaching up to $40,000.

Pilat, who is an in-residence artist for SpaceX, incorporates her artistic skills to promote space exploration through paintings focused on the company’s mission.

Residency at the National Gallery of Victoria

Three robot dogs named Basia, Omuzana ‘Vanya,’ and Bunny recently began a four-month residency at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne, Australia.

The exhibit, named after the robots, will run until April 7.

The NGV’s exhibition space employs QR codes to guide the robots during their painting sessions, and a designated area within the museum allows the robots to ‘sleep’ and recharge.

Machine-Generated Art and Robotic Personalities

Pilat collaborates with Boston Dynamics engineers, utilizing AI, software, and machine learning to train the robots.

Despite daily interactions, Pilat admits to not fully understanding the robot dogs, working closely with engineers to shape their personalities.

Each robot has distinct characteristics; for instance, Basia is described as the ‘serious one,’ while Vanya serves as the ‘mother of the group,’ and Bunny exhibits a touch of vanity.

Ambitious Vision and Reflection on Technology

Pilat envisions her robot-created paintings as potential artifacts of a new civilization, comparing them to ancient scrolls or cave drawings.

She expresses the hope that these artworks will be studied in the future, akin to how historians analyze ancient forms of communication.

Pilat emphasizes that the robot dogs, while serving as artistic tools, are not intended to replace human creators.

Instead, their artwork reflects a sense of spontaneity and playfulness, comparable to a kindergartener learning to draw.

A Unique Perspective on Human-Machine Interaction

Reflecting on her experience, Pilat describes working closely with the robot dogs as encountering another mind, challenging expectations about machines operating predictably.

She notes that even when a robot fails at a task, observers may feel a sense of empathy.

Pilat acknowledges the current unease towards technology but emphasizes her gratitude, citing her unique upbringing in Łódź, Poland, where technology provided hope during challenging times.

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