Share Site Map Contact us Home Page
Home > Background > History of AI > Origins

History of AI
After 1950

AI at the turn of the millennium

Speaking Machines

From Myth to Reality part 1

From Myth to Reality part 2

From Myth to Reality part 3

From Myth to Reality part 4

From Myth to Reality Full
  Printable version
  Related links
The Greek myth of Pygmalion is the story of a statue brought to life for the love of her sculptor. The Greek god Hephaestus' robot Talos guarded Crete from attackers, running the circumference of the island 3 times a day. The Greek Oracle at Delphi was history's first chatbot and expert system.

In the 3rd century BC, Chinese engineer Mo Ti created mechanical birds, dragons, and warriors. Technology was being used to transform myth into reality.
Much later, the Royal courts of Enlightenment-age Europe were endlessly amused by mechanical ducks and humanoid figures, crafted by clockmakers. It has long been possible to make machines that looked and moved in human-like ways - machines that could spook and awe the audience - but creating a model of the mind was off limits.
Artists have long considered AI issues
However, writers and artists were not bound by the limits of science in exploring extra-human intelligence, and the Jewish myth of the Golem, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, all the way through to Forbidden Planet's Robbie the Robot and 2001's HAL9000, gave us new - and troubling - versions of the manufactured humanoid.
From the unision of Philosophy and Engineering the first mechanical calculator is born
Between these engineers and authors, the world's philosophers were seeking to encode the laws of human thought into complex, logical systems. In the 1600s, engineering and philosophy began a slow merger which continues today. The mathematician, Blaise Pascal, created a mechanical calculator in 1642 (to enable gambling predictions). Another mathematician, Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, improved Pascal's machine and made his own contribution to the philosophy of reasoning by proposing a calculus of thought.