Robot Artists

As an artist, one of the most important things I had to learn was what NOT to include in a drawing.  For example, to make a portrait look right, you can’t draw every individual hair or every fine wrinkle or every tiny freckle on the tip of the nose.  You have to focus on the parts of the face that define that face, that reveal the subject’s personality, and ignore most of the small details.

This is a skill unique to humans, or at least it used to be.  New robots have emerged with special programming to help them decide what should or should not be included in a drawing.  With a camera, they observe a human face, and their robotic hand picks up a pencil and starts drawing a portrait.

Aside from the fact that robots are now encroaching on even more people’s jobs, what are the philosophical implications for art?  When a robot draws something, who’s the artists: the robot or the person who programmed the robot?  Also, if robots learn to understand and appreciate art on their own, how much closer does that bring them to being just like us?

This month’s short story for The Tomorrow News Network explores how machines and the arts might mix together in the future.  Click here to start reading “The Opera of Machines.”  For more information on robotic portrait artists, click here.

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