Can robots make art? Yes - but don't ask them to write a poem

"Our algorithms seem not yet able to imitate human kinds of poetry," one organizer said

Robots can paint, but when it comes to writing, they shouldn't quit their day jobs. That's the combined conclusion from results of two contests announced this week.

On the upside, artificial intelligence created some pretty impressive works for RobotArt.org's first annual $100,000 competition, the results of which were announced Tuesday.

The contest challenged artists and engineers to create a robot that painted like a real artist. Essentially, the aim was to get "as many teams as possible to set up a robot that can do any sort of painting," the contest site explains. Fifteen teams from seven countries responded with more than 70 robot-created paintings made with a variety of techniques.

Robots were judged through a combination of public voting, professional opinion and how well the team met the spirit of the competition. First place and $30,000 went to TAIDA, a robotic arm from National Taiwan University that painted "in a manner very similar to a classical painter," the contest's organizers said.

"Once it achieved the desired color, it would begin by first laying down and underpainting before continuing on to a refinement layer," they said. "In the refinement layer, the robot would repeatedly compare the picture drawn on the canvas with what it was attempting to paint to find the most different area, and then try to make it less different, similar to how a classical painter goes about completing a canvas."

Second place and $18,000 were awarded to cloudPainter of the United States. Third place and $12,000 were awarded to NoRAA of Italy.

"The results of this competition show a significant step in the advancement of robotics and artificial intelligence to create beauty," said RobotArt.org founder Andrew Conru.

It doesn't look like the capacity for creating beauty extends to the literary world, though -- at least not yet.

Organizers of Dartmouth College’s “Turing Tests in Creative Arts” announced on Wednesday that there were no winners in their competition for AI algorithms to create “human-quality” short stories, sonnets and dance-music sets.

The goal was to show whether human judges -- in the form of literary readers and party-goers on a dance floor -- could distinguish which creations were generated by machines and which by humans. The contest’s organizers expected dozens of entries in each category but received far fewer submissions than they expected -- "a testament to the difficulty of writing sophisticated code that creates another dimension of AI -- creative intelligence," they said.

In the poetry contest, there were two entries that each generated two sonnets; in the literature contest, there were three entries that each generated a short story. Some human-generated entries were included as well.

Passing the contest's Turing Test required that a majority of the judges rate the entries as “human.” None of the machine-generated sonnets or short stories fooled any of the judges, with the exception of one short story that fooled one judge.

"Our algorithms seem not yet able to imitate human kinds of poetry, but the code that was submitted was still amazing,” says Dan Rockmore, a professor of mathematics and computer science who was one of the contest's organizers.

AI fared better in creating dance-music sets: Two of the eight algorithmic entries submitted fooled about 40 percent of the human voters.

You can test out your own ability to distinguish AI-created from human-made dance sets in a poll on the Dartmouth site.

Although there were no winners, the Dartmouth contest organizers said several of the entries in each category were sophisticated enough to deserve a portion of the prize money.

A full account of the results, as well as a prize-winning sonnet, can be found on the project's site.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Katherine Noyes

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?