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Ancient Greeks Predicted Robots, Claims Stanford Historian

Talos, Greek mythology robot of Crete
Talos, a giant automaton made of bronze, was described as a creation of Hephaestus in Greek mythology. Ancient Greeks may have predicted robots and many other modern technological innovations. Credit: Public Domain

Ancient Greeks not only created the foundations of modern civilization, but they also predicted robots and other future technological innovations, according to a book on the subject.

Stanford University historian Dr. Adrienne Mayor, in Gods and Robots argues that Greek myths speculated on the future existence of artificial intelligence, robots, driver-less cars, and other modern technologies.

Dr. Mayor’s arguments revolve to a large extent around Hephaestus, the Greek god of craftsmen and metalworking.

One of his creations was Talos, a giant automaton made of bronze, which Mayor describes as a “bronze killer-robot” and an early precursor to the kinds of androids now being built by Boston Dynamics.

Greeks predicted robots and other tech devices

Another of his creations was Pandora, a “replicant” and “wicked AI fembot,” which according to Mayor, was ‘programmed’ to release evil into the world.

Pandora wasn’t the only ‘AI’ Hephaestus constructed since he also built mechanical Golden Maidens to help him with his work.

These were designed to predict his needs and to act on them without direct instruction, something which Dr. Mayor believes makes them early versions of such AI-powered personal assistants as Amazon’s Alexa.

These creations were not the only ancient Greek prophecies of future technology. According to Dr. Mayor, Homer’s epic poetry foretells the arrival of driver-less cars and transportation.

In the Odyssey, Odysseus sails back to Ithaca on pilot-less Phaeacian ships while in the Iliad, Homer writes about autonomous wheeled tripods that transport ambrosia.

Ancient Greeks developed their own technology

While they may have predicted some modern technological innovations like robots, the Ancient Greeks invented a large number of their own impressive devices.

There are a plethora of items we use in our daily lives that you may be surprised to hear can actually be traced back to ancient Greek technology.

Central heating and thermometers, inventions that many could not live without, were created by ancient Greeks.

According to archaeological discoveries at the ancient Greek site in Turkey, the Temple of Ephesus was kept warm in antiquity using flues under its floor to circulate the heat from fires kept burning underneath the sprawling temple complex.

The original concept for today’s thermometer dates back to almost two thousand years ago.

The Greeks of Alexandria were the first to figure out how air expands when exposed to high temperatures. Philo of Byzantium was the first to apply this technique to a physical invention and create the first thermometer.

The day in 1901 that the Antikythera Mechanism, one of the most significant and impressive inventions of the ancient Greeks, was discovered is celebrated across the scientific world.

This astoundingly intricate machine is an ancient Greek device which many scientists consider the world’s first computer.

The Antikythera Mechanism was discovered inside an ancient shipwreck by Greek sponge divers in 1901.

After numerous studies, it was estimated to have been constructed between 150 B.C. and 100 B.C.. A later study places it at 205 B.C., just seven years after the death of Archimedes.

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