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Cities Will Automate First. We Should Prepare Now.

Urban spaces are the testing grounds for the automation revolution. Will they destroy our jobs, or just make new and better ones?
So, who's driving this thing?
So, who's driving this thing?Jae C. Hong/AP

Three robotic arms move brushes languidly across canvases as the glass eyes of cameras gaze ahead. The robots are painting a still life—lit with a tarnished black standing lamp—of a stuffed fox, a bird perched on a branch, a skull in the center, and a seashell to the side.

This summer in Paris, it is not only the clutch of international travelers filling the museums, but robotic visitors as well. The Grande Palais is hosting an exhibit called “Artistes and Robots” that features works created via artificial intelligence and robotic hosts. Elsewhere, AI-produced art is growing increasingly indistinguishable from the “real thing.” Since 2016, teams of programmers have competed in an annual RobotArt competition (here are this year’s finalists), and robot-made art will go on sale at the Seattle Art Fair this summer, alongside works that came solely from human hands.