When art meets artificial intelligence: the experience of Shahrzad Ajoudani
Institutional Communication Service
23 January 2023
Thanks to the Professional Mentoring Programme launched in 2020 by the USI Career Service and Business and Professional Women Ticino and the USI Equal Opportunity Service, student Shahrzad Ajoudani developed an "art prediction" project presented in Innosuisse's Business Concept course.
Shahrzad Ajoudani, a USI mentee of the 21/22 programme, is a mechatronics engineer with a Master's degree in Artificial Intelligence from Università della Svizzera italiana. Together with her mentor Flávia V. F. Freitas, among the leaders of the Professional Mentoring in BPW USI programme, had the opportunity to work on a project that combines artificial intelligence with art.
The project is called AHOOSHA and was presented on 4 December 2022 as part of Innosuisse's "Business Concept" course. AHOOSHA is based on an intelligent algorithm that can reproduce an artist's DNA to generate new artwork that reflects the evolution of the same artist and could help expert appraisers certify the authenticity of a work of art. Such technology could be a revolution in the field of art production and authentication of works by established artists.
The presentation was a great success. As a result, Shahrzad and Flavia are now considering launching a start-up together and decided to tell us about their experience with the Professional Mentoring programme.
"When I entered the programme," Shahrzad explains, "I was a lost student who didn't know what she wanted. My first mentor, Dr Maria-Grazia Giuffreda, Associate Director @ CSCS, took me to CSCS (Swiss National Supercomputing Center). We visited areas with supercomputers that scientists use for their research. At that moment, I realised that if I had access to this technology, I would use more complicated models for the AHOOSHA project and for my thesis. My second mentor was Dr Chantra Eskes, Senior Scientific Officer of Toxicology chez European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). She helped me realise my potential and abilities. Finally, my third mentor, Flávia, became my unofficial co-advisor for my thesis. We became teammates in the Start-up Business Concept course while working on AHOOSHA. She taught me a lot, both academically and in life. Overall, I never imagined how much my life would change because of this programme, and I am glad I had the opportunity to experience it. Even though they are no longer officially my mentors, all three of them continue to participate and support me, and I know I can always count on them."
Can you explain in more detail what the AHOOSHA project consists of?
"Our project, AHOOSHA (a mix of English and Farsi meaning: artificial intelligent art)," Shahrzad and Flavia tell us, "focuses on using artificial intelligence to analyse and predict an artist's future artwork. The project aims to understand the artistic process and help artists in their creative process. It also highlights the potential of using artificial intelligence to analyse and understand art and the possibility of adopting and adapting existing models to new problems in the field. AHOOSHA can also fill gaps in historical documents related to images, such as maps and paintings. By analysing these images and understanding their patterns and representations, we can better understand the period and cultural context in which they were created; this can help us better understand the history and culture of a particular region or period."
Shahrzad, what would you recommend to female USI students who, like you, might be interested in the Mentoring Programme?
"I advise female students interested in the Mentoring Programme to take advantage of this opportunity to connect with experienced professionals and gain valuable insight into different fields and career paths. In addition, the programme is an excellent resource for those seeking guidance and support to navigate their studies and careers. The collaboration between Flavia and me proves that the Mentoring Programme is a two-way street. This generational exchange and sharing of cross-disciplinary knowledge have benefited us so much that we intend to continue developing the project and learning with the process and with each other."