Robot artist Ai-Da is free after detainment from Egyptian authorities

British robot artist known as Ai-Da was seized last week amid fears her robotics harboured covert spy tools.

Egyptian border agents held the robot for 10 days, hijacking her plans to show work at the Great Pyramid of Giza on Thursday.

Despite her freakishly human-like appearance, minimal information was willingly offered up by Ai-Da. It was reported that no amount of pain-inflicting coercion was able to prompt a response.

Art Robot
Image: ArtNews.com

The UK Embassy within Cairo has said they are relieved that the case has since been resolved: “The Embassy is glad to see that Ai-Da the artist robot has now been cleared through customs,”.

According to the Ai-Da’s creator Aidan Meller, the robot was seized due to her suspicious modem. They then raised issues with Ai-Da’s eyes.

Unlike Ai-Da, Meller was compliant and offered to remove the modem but was unable to remove all of the essential cameras.

The robot transforms images recorded through its camera using Al algorithms. Therefore, removing the cameras would strip the creation of its built purpose.


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Meller told the Guardian, “I can ditch the modems, but I can’t really gouge her eyes out.”

The work of the UK ambassador was commended, working “through the night” to get Ai-Da released. However, the unexpected delay made it difficult for her art display to take place on schedule.

The work will be included in the first contemporary art exhibition at the Pyramids in Egypt.

Flying slightly below economy in a specialised protective case, Ai-Da was flown to Cairo for her display at the “Forever Is Now” exhibition, ending on November 7.

The clay sculpture she will display at the exhibition is an interpretation of the Greed riddle of the sphinx: what goes four feet in the morning, two feet at noon and three feet in the afternoon?

Ai-Da was finalised in 2019 and her artwork including the first-ever “self-portrait without self” has been displayed at the Victorian and Albert Museum in London and the Design Museum.