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Lecture: The Robot and the Witch—The Ancient Greek Quest for Artificial Life

March 18, 2017
Fullerton Hall
Free with museum admission

Who first came up with the concepts of robots, replicants, rejuvenation, and other forms of artificial intelligence? Such wondrous inventions are commonly attributed to medieval magicians and Enlightenment craftsmen. But more than 2,500 years ago, a host of bio-technological wonders—from automatons to drones—were vividly imagined by classical Greeks, described in the myths of Jason and the Argonauts, Prometheus, Icarus, and Pandora. Inspired by these stories, some ancient inventors even constructed self-propelled robots. Adrienne Mayor, Stanford University, explores the amazing mythic marvels created by the witch Medea, the legendary inventor Daedalus, the god of invention Hephaestus, and other techno-wizards of antiquity.

Sponsored by the Boshell Family Foundation

Affiliate Group: 
Davit Khmaladze. Medea Monument (detail), erected 2007. Batumi, Republic of Georgia.