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.

All of the details in the myth point to a flying robot being; able to reach high speeds with the power to eject heavy weights containing battery liquids and self-heating properties. Talos had only one vain, starting from his head and ending on one of his ankle. The end at the ankle was sealed with a welding or screw so as to maintain the Ihor (the blood of the immortals, a devine liquid that gave life) in the robot.

The idea of a self-sufficient, automated, mobile or stationary, intelligent mechanism designed to execute specific tasks is clearly not modern. Some evidence of such attempts in ancient times include:

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)

What made the ancient Greeks come up with the myth and the idea of such machines? Do myths partially include actual events from a lost part of history that mainstream scientists, historians and archaeologists keep ignoring. Clearly the idea of a robot has been maintained through oral traditions for thousands of years. These ideas have been passed on to our modern times and our modern civilization is gradually making all these ideas part of our everyday life.


Photo credits: / Bruno de Lorenzo

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