Robert Tamayo


Application of Mythology: Robots are not New

The word "robot" is a new term, first appearing in a 1921 play. In Czech, it means "slave". Though it's a new term, the concept of an automaton is an ancient one. Robots are not sci-fi; they are part of mythology.

Ancient Robots

I'm quoting from an article I found discussing ancient robots, called "Robots and Automation Were Familiar Concepts in Ancient Greece".

According to ancient Greek bibliography, ancient Greeks were aware of the concept of a robot; the potential of building a mechanical, intelligent humanoid that will serve people.

According to Greek mythology, Talos was a giant made from copper by Hephaestus (god of metallurgy, stone masonry, etc) to protect the island of Crete and enforce the law among civilians. The robot would fly around Crete to patrol three times a day taking of from its base at Phaistos. It would also deal with potential invaders or threats by sea by throwing rocks at ships or blasting fire.

Here we clearly see that the ancient Greeks envisioned robots exactly as we do. There were even legends of Talos, a robot that seems like a cross between Robocop and a BattleMech. I would say that Iron Man is more than slightly inspired by Talos directly, given the description of "blasting fire" and being able to fly.

The article continues with 3 examples of ancient robots:

The flying pigeon made by Arhitas (428-347 BC), powered by steam, could fly for a range of 200m.

The Antikythera mechanism used for predicting the position of stars at any moment in time.

The programmable and automated mechanisms by Heron of Alexandria (10-70AD)

By now, it should be clear that humans have been very aware of robots for thousands of years. I don't know whether or not these ancient robots were real. All I know for certain is that they were reported on.

Remember, almost all modern concepts have origins in the ancient texts, as these ancients texts are what led to our current civilization. It would be no surprise to me if the Greeks beat us to robots long, long ago.
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