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Art-ificial intelligence

Egypt detains artist robot over spy fears ahead of pyramids art show

Ai-Da held by authorities for 10 days on suspicion of espionage due to cameras in its eyes that enable it to paint

Robot artist Ai-Da. (Screenshot/YouTube)
Robot artist Ai-Da. (Screenshot/YouTube)

A robot artist has been released by Egyptian authorities after being detained for 10 days on suspicion it could be part of an espionage plot, its creator said Thursday.

Ai-Da is billed as the world’s first artificial intelligence robot capable of independently conceiving and creating works of art. It was brought to Egypt to display its work as part of an exhibition at the Great Pyramid of Giza being put on together with the country’s tourism and foreign ministries.

But upon arrival in Egypt 10 days ago, Ai-Da, together with the work set to be displayed, was detained by Egyptian border guards due to security fears about the cameras in its eyes that enable it to paint, its creator, gallerist Aidan Meller, said.

“I can’t really gouge her eyes out,” he told the Guardian. “Let’s be really clear about this. She is not a spy.”

Meller said that the British ambassador in Egypt had been “working through the night to get Ai-Da released” in time for Thursday’s show.

“Customs clearance procedures can be lengthy, and are required before importation of any artworks or IT equipment,” the British embassy in Cairo said in a statement. “The Embassy is glad to see that this particular case has now been resolved.”

The Forever Is Now exhibition, which runs until November 7, will also showcase works by leading Egyptian and international artists including Stephen Cox, Lorenzo Quinn, Moataz Nasr and Alexander Ponomarev.

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