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Art created by artificial intelligence: Will collectors want it?

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Four months ago, Christie’s said it held the first-ever auction of art created by artificial intelligence. The $432,500 sale sparked a controversy among critics over whether it’s really AI-generated if a human was involved in making the portrait.

Next month, a new Sotheby’s sale in London may end the dispute and could even presage a boom in AI-generated art, which until now has been relatively scarce.

The firm will take bids for a piece made by German computer scientist Mario Klingemann on March 6 in London. This one was fully curated by a computer, according to the auction house. That’s different from the AI portrait the sold in October, which included some human intervention by Paris-based art collective Obvious.

Entitled Memories of Passersby I, Klingemann’s auction debut is made up of an AI “brain” that beams an endless stream of images of distorted faces onto two screens, the result of algorithms. Blurry faces come into focus, though none of the people portrayed ever existed.

Still, purists could insist the work isn’t fully computer-generated, as Klingemann admits he had to build the machine. But now it’s ready to create art endlessly, and soon it will be up to bidders to decide. After the Obvious sale smashed the original estimate of $10,000, Christie’s has put the estimate for this sale at 30,000 ($39,000) to 40,000 pounds.

Another successful sale could prove the art market is ready for more machines.


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