in every kind of technology, from mechanical engineering and elec- tronics (the combination is so essential to the creation of artificial beings that is has its own name: “mechatronics”) to artificial intelli- gence. Even a sophisticated modern device, such as the Honda Corporation’s ASIMO walking robot, relies on the same mechanical principles the ancient Greeks applied. Other historical layers of tech- nology that have contributed include the development of clocks and clockwork, the beginnings of electronic science in the 1920s and of practical computation in the 1930s and 1940s, and today’s develop- ment of nanotechnology and of interfaces between living nervous systems and external devices.
It would be too much to say that every inventor in each era set out to create artificial living things or to copy human beings. Some did, but others wanted only to emulate certain aspects of human be- havior, or invented things that only later were seen as relevant to artificial beings. Different possibilities were emphasized at different times, the focus defined partly by the technology available and partly by culture.Through all these attempts, four main threads emerged as steps toward making a facsimile of a living being: constructing a mov- ing body, adding a thinking mind, adding artificial senses, and simulat- ing a natural appearance.
A fifth thread is the most recent and perhaps the most unsettling, coming closest to evoking the sense of “eeriness” that Freud discussed: the direct interfacing of machines with living beings, including hu- mans.That, along with dramatic advances in the other four threads, is an ongoing effort, and the second half of this book deals with this fruitful contemporary period. This chapter presents the real history from classical times until the early 1990s.
BODIES IN MOTION
The ancient Greeks were among the earliest pioneers to simulate living beings through movement. Their reasons were connected to theatrical presentations because many of their plays involved the ap- pearance of gods with divine powers.To show these and other strik-