Ancient civilizations' fascination with AI, robots, and synthetic life

#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/01/29/ancient-civilizations-fascin.html

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#2

He might have an interesting thesis, but he ruins it with words like “robot” and “android.” Yes, ancient people had some crazy ideas. No, they were not Trekkies.

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#3

They didn’t use the words Robot or Android, but there are plenty of characters who fit the concepts in ancient mythology. And interestingly enough, they are widespread over most of the well-preserved mythos…

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#4

Adrienne Mayor has written a few books now that try to rethink ideas of ancient classical civilizations, and having read a couple of them, they’re interesting, but in the case of her book on the Amazons, it seemed to be relentlessly reaching. Idk, this could be another one like that?, but this book, her first, I think, was interesting in that it pointed out that fossils were known to ancient peoples,and so maybe influenced ancient myth:

Worth checking out of the library, anyway.

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#5

I know, and Ezekiel’s wheel was really the Jupiter 2.

#6

I wonder if the book explores/mentions the golem from Jewish folklore.

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#7

“Ezekiel saw the wheel. This is the wheel he said he saw. These are unidentified flying objects that people are saying they are seeing now. Are they proof that we are being visited by civilizations from other stars? Or just what are they? The United States Air Force began an investigation of this high strangeness in a search for the truth. What you are about to see is part of this twenty year search.” – Opening credits to “Project UFO” (NBC 1978-1979).

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#8

this might be reading a lot into an archaic term, it’s easily cotempromorphised (I’m sure that’s a word because I just said it) into things we take for granted, but a wheel might be another term for a concept that turns back to its own beginning, self justification that’s taken as proof.

#9

You misspelled it.

Contempromorphed.

Even though you just made it up.

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#10

Several Native American groups had stories about the revolt of everyday objects against humans. You see it as a motif in Moche fineline pottery. It kind of sounds cute, but like most of Moche ceremonial culture it’s pretty gruesome— bound human captives being led off by anthropomophized maces and shields to have their throats cut. Sort of a Terminator scenario where automated weapons turn on their users. https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/971709.pdf?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

#11

The Wikipedia article on Robots sums up the concept of fantastical early robots better than I could. There are many, many examples in existing ancient texts.

I suppose that lack of knowledge regarding the subject is an indication as to the lack of classical education facing the world today.

Perhaps the most interesting thing is that most of the sources present a good number of the “Robots” as being real, not fantastical; up to and including the late medieval period, of which there are surviving examples.

closed #12

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