The new Picasso? Meet Ai-Da the robot artist

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The rubberised head of Ai-Da, a humanoid robot capable of drawing people from life using her bionic eyes and hand, is painstakingly given lifelike features by Mike Humphrey, a specialist at robotics company Engineered Arts, in Falmouth, Cornwall, Britain February 7, 2019. (REUTERS)
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A woman interacts with Ai-Da, a humanoid robot capable of drawing people from life using her bionic eyes and hand, at the offices of robotics company Engineered Arts, in Falmouth, Cornwall, Britain February 7, 2019. (REUTERS)
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The head of Ai-Da, a humanoid robot capable of drawing people from life using her bionic eyes and hand, is seen in the offices of robotics company Engineered Arts, in Falmouth, Cornwall, Britain February 7, 2019. (REUTERS)
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The head of Ai-Da, a humanoid robot capable of drawing people from life using her bionic eyes and hand, is seen in the offices of robotics company Engineered Arts, in Falmouth, Cornwall, Britain February 7, 2019. (REUTERS)
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The rubberised head of Ai-Da, a humanoid robot capable of drawing people from life using her bionic eyes and hand, is painstakingly given lifelike features by Mike Humphrey, a specialist at robotics company Engineered Arts, in Falmouth, Cornwall, Britain February 7, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 11 February 2019
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The new Picasso? Meet Ai-Da the robot artist

  • Cameras in each of her eyeballs recognize human features — she will make eye contact and follow you around the room, opening and closing her mouth as you do

FALMOUTH, England: Can robots be creative? British gallery owner Aidan Meller hopes to go some way toward answering that question with Ai-Da, who her makers say will be able to draw people from sight with a pencil in her bionic hand.
Meller is overseeing the final stages of her construction by engineers at Cornwall-based Engineered Arts.
He calls Ai-Da — named after British mathematician and computer pioneer Ada Lovelace — the world’s first “AI ultra-realistic robot artist,” and his ambition is for her to perform like her human equivalents.
“She’s going to actually be drawing and we’re hoping to then build technology for her to paint,” Meller said after seeing Ai-Da’s prosthetic head being carefully brought to life by specialists individually attaching hairs to form her eyebrows.
“But also as a performance artist she’ll be able to engage with audiences and actually get messages across; asking those questions about technology today.”
Her skeletal robotic head may stand disembodied on a workbench, but her movements are very much alive.
Cameras in each of her eyeballs recognize human features — she will make eye contact and follow you around the room, opening and closing her mouth as you do. Get too close and she’ll back away, blinking, as if in shock.
Ai-Da’s makers say she will have a “RoboThespian” body with expressive movements and she will talk and answer questions.
“There’s AI (artificial intelligence) running in the computer vision that allows the robot to track faces to recognize facial features and to mimic your expression,” said Marcus Hold, Design & Production Engineer at Engineered Arts.
Ai-Da’s makers are using “Mesmer” life-like robot technology for her head, and once finished she will have a mixed race appearance with long dark hair, silicone skin and 3D printed teeth and gums.
“(Mesmer) brings together the development of software mechanics and electronics to produce a lifelike face with lifelike gestures in a small human sized package,” Hold said.
Ai-Da will present her inaugural exhibition “Unsecured Futures” in May at the University of Oxford, and her sketches will go on display in London in November.


Saudi Arabia in the crosshairs as cyber-raids target Gulf

More than 90 percent of malware is distributed by email with hackers seeking to trick users with fake invoices and other scams. (Shutterstock)
Updated 29 min 57 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia in the crosshairs as cyber-raids target Gulf

  • Cyberattacks were ranked as the second most important risk after an “energy shock” in these three Gulf states, according to the WEF’s flagship Global Risks Report 2019
  • Criminal phishing attacks rising sharply, cybersecurity experts warn

RIYADH: Online phishing attacks are on the rise with experts warning of increasing numbers of cyber-raids targeting Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.
Phishing is a type of fraud where criminals target online victims, using deception to acquire users’ credentials, ranging from passwords to credit card and bank account details, and other financially sensitive information.
Cybersecurity experts say the numbers of attacks worldwide have risen dramatically, increasing from over 2 million in the first two weeks of February last year to more than 4.3 million in the same period this year.
Mohammed Khurram Khan, a professor of cybersecurity at King Saud University (KSU), told Arab News: “Saudi Arabia, due to its strong position in political, social and economic spheres, has been a key target for cyber-intrusions by state and nonstate actors aiming to compromise its national security.
“Various types of malware and scams, especially phishing, are used to target critical information infrastructure, which serve as the backbone of the economy,” he said.
More than 90 percent of malware is distributed by email with hackers seeking to trick users with fake invoices and other scams, said Khan, who is also the founder and CEO of the Global Foundation for Cyber Studies and Research, a Washington-based cybersecurity think tank.
“Computer users in Saudi Arabia have been confronted with more than 30 million phishing emails in recent years,” he said.
Khan said that awareness, training and “cyber-hygiene” were important to protect users and organizations from phishing scams.
KSU has developed a pioneering cybersecurity awareness product, “Rawam,” which helps organizations train employees to deal with malicious hacking, malware, ransomware, phishing and cyberattacks.
The bilingual tool has been used to train 100,000 staff in 40 different organizations, he said.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) last month warned of the growing likelihood of cyberattacks in the Gulf, with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar particularly vulnerable.
Cyberattacks were ranked as the second most important risk after an “energy shock” in these three Gulf states, according to the WEF’s flagship Global Risks Report 2019, released ahead of the annual forum in Davos.
Cybersecurity experts from the Kaspersky Lab, a multinational digital security provider, detected a sharp increase in phishing activities on the eve of the Valentine’s Day.
The overall number of user attempts to visit fraudulent websites detected and blocked by Kaspersky Lab in the first half of February exceeded 4.3 million.
“The spike offers a reminder that we should be cautious when surfing the web, even if we are just buying flowers for our loved one,” said Andrey Kostin, a senior web content analyst.