Artificial Intelligence Artist Ai-Da Was Detained At The Egyptian Border

The robot was on her way to an exhibition at the Pyramids

Ai-Da, an artificial intelligence robot artist has already been making news with the art shows showcasing her work. Now though, as Art News reports, Egyptian security forces denied her entry into that country on her way to her first show there.

The explanation was that she was suspected of being a spy, because… she actually is a robot. She was held by the Egyptian customs officials for 10 days before she was released. 

As Art News notes, the extended detention led to something of a diplomatic crisis between Egypt and the U.K. She was finally released and was able to attend the opening of her show at the Giza Pyramids outside Cairo that began on October 21.

“The British ambassador has been working through the night to get Ai-Da released, but we’re right up to the wire now,” Aidan Meller, an Oxford art dealer who is both Ai-Da’s creator and representative, told the Guardian before she was cleared by customs. “It’s really stressful.”

“Let’s be really clear about this. She is not a spy,” Meller said. “People fear robots, I understand that. But the whole situation is ironic, because the goal of Ai-Da was to highlight and warn of the abuse of technological development, and she’s being held because she is technology.” He added: “Ai-Da would appreciate that irony, I think.”

The Egyptian exhibition, Forever Is Now, was organized by the consultancy firm Art D’Égypte with the Egyptian ministry of antiquities and tourism and the Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs. Featuring works by both Egyptian and international artists including Stephen Cox, Lorenzo Quinn, Moataz Nasr, and Alexander Ponomarev. It runs through November 7.

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