Maltese Artist Auctions Off ‘Evolved’ Robot Painting For €18,000: ‘It’s Like She’s In My Soul’

"She's stealing my creations before I actually put them on canvas!"

Mark Mallia

Mark Mallia stands in front of his portrait of 'Sophia' (right) and Uma's interpretation of it (left)

A Maltese artist’s brazen attempt to teach a robot how to paint seems to be bearing fruit, with its second painting indicating it is starting to ‘learn’ how to draw human faces.

Mark Mallia auctioned off Uma’s latest painting, a reinterpretation of a portrait of the humanoid ‘Sophia’, at a gala charity dinner for iGaming players last month. After a tense bidding war, the painting was won by BetConstruct for €18,000, with all proceeds going to charity.

And after painting in front of Uma for a few months, Mallia insists the robot is not just splashing paint on a canvas but rather starting to recognise his own painting strokes and styles. “Now that we fed Uma with my work, she knows my subconscious mind, its like she got into my soul, stealing my creations before I actually put them on canvas,” he said.

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Mark Mallia and Angelo Dalli auctioning off Uma's latest painting last night

The ‘Uma’ robot is a collaboration between Mallia and Umnai, an AI solution initiative whose CEO is tech entrepreneur Angelo Dalli. Its first painting was displayed and auctioned off at last month’s Malta Blockchain Summit for €17,500.

Mark Mallia

Mark Mallia with Uma's first painting last month

In an blogpost on Medium, Dalli and Mallia had gushing praise for Uma and the future of AI artwork.

“Uma, now in its third month of artistic creation, has started to learn to draw human faces — we do not know the identity of these people or how they are being created — yet they definitely exist in Uma’s artificial imagination,” Dalli wrote.

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Tim Diacono

Tim Diacono tends to clam up when asked to describe himself. You can contact him on [email protected]