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Painting Fool is no idiot

Monday, June 25, 2012 - 02:36

June 25 - The Painting Fool, a computer program which has been taught to recognize human emotion, has been building a reputation as an accomplished artist over the past decade. Its creator Simon Colton believes the Fool's future is as bright as some of the abstract artwork created by the program. He has big plans to extend the program into the area of literature. Jim Drury reports.

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The Painting Fool, a computer program which has been taught to recognise human emotion, has been building a reputation as an accomplished artist over the past decade. Its creator Simon Colton believes the Fool's future is as bright as some of the abstract artwork created by the program. He has big plans to extend the program into the area of literature. Jim Drury has more. STORY: At first glance these landscape paintings don't appear out of the ordinary. In fact they were produced by computer program 'The Painting Fool', which creator Simon Colton says works independently of human influence. A senior academic at London's Imperial College, Colton's been constantly updating 'The Fool' since building its first model in 2001. SOUNDBITE (English) SIMON COLTON, INVENTOR OF THE PAINTING FOOL AND READER IN COMPUTATIONAL CREATIVITY AT IMPERIAL COLLEGE, LONDON, SAYING: "Right from the start, about six or eight years ago, we said we're going to state the aim of the project to be to build software which is one day taken seriously as a creative artist in its own right, so if I die no-one will notice.... We have to hand over more and more creative responsibility until one day it's perfectly fair to say that software is not being driven by its original programming, so therefore it's acting independently." The software is built to analyse and respond in a human fashion, rather than simply applying filters. The Fool can simply be told themes - or fed a news story - and it will improvise an accompanying painting. SOUNDBITE (English) SIMON COLTON, INVENTOR OF THE PAINTING FOOL AND READER IN COMPUTATIONAL CREATIVITY AT IMPERIAL COLLEGE, LONDON, SAYING: "This is a line-up of 17 people and these people are not from photographs. They just don't exist in reality. They're from what's called a context-free design grammar, which are a set of rules which help you generate things which look like people and when you put them all together you get a scene of dancers and that was very important for us to get away from photography because it moved away from reality and into the realm of imagination." Colton used his Imperial colleagues' emotion detecting software to help 'The Fool' read people's moods before painting them. Now the program improvises all its works, choosing colour palette, art materials, and technique, often surprising its creator. Colton recently configured it to produce poetry and wants to create the 'Writing Fool' as his program's offshoot. SOUNDBITE (English) SIMON COLTON, INVENTOR OF THE PAINTING FOOL AND READER IN COMPUTATIONAL CREATIVITY AT IMPERIAL COLLEGE, LONDON, SAYING: "It's getting the software to generate commentaries about why it's done something, so in the painting case it would be a wall text or an essay about its motivations, where it got the images from, why it's chosen particular painting styles, justifying what it's doing ....connecting it to art history and society at large and the culture of the day and convincing you that an intelligent beast has produced this piece." His creation has won several artificial intelligence prizes. But for Colton, the biggest landmark will be when it's recognised as an artist in its own right. Despite its name, The Painting Fool is certainly no idiot. Jim Drury, Reuters

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Painting Fool is no idiot

Monday, June 25, 2012 - 02:36