Medieval Robots

Author: E. R. Truitt
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
ISBN: 0812291409
Format: PDF, Docs
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A thousand years before Isaac Asimov set down his Three Laws of Robotics, real and imagined automata appeared in European courts, liturgies, and literary texts. Medieval robots took such forms as talking statues, mechanical animals, and silent metal guardians; some served to entertain or instruct while others performed disciplinary or surveillance functions. Variously ascribed to artisanal genius, inexplicable cosmic forces, or demonic powers, these marvelous fabrications raised fundamental questions about knowledge, nature, and divine purpose in the Middle Ages. Medieval Robots recovers the forgotten history of fantastical, aspirational, and terrifying machines that captivated Europe in imagination and reality between the ninth and fourteenth centuries. E. R. Truitt traces the different forms of self-moving or self-sustaining manufactured objects from their earliest appearances in the Latin West through centuries of mechanical and literary invention. Chronicled in romances and song as well as histories and encyclopedias, medieval automata were powerful cultural objects that probed the limits of natural philosophy, illuminated and challenged definitions of life and death, and epitomized the transformative and threatening potential of foreign knowledge and culture. This original and wide-ranging study reveals the convergence of science, technology, and imagination in medieval culture and demonstrates the striking similarities between medieval and modern robotic and cybernetic visions.

Sublime Dreams of Living Machines

Author: Minsoo Kang
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 0674059417
Format: PDF, ePub
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Kang’s central contention is that the automaton, a machine that can move by itself (better known today as the robot), is one of the essential ideas with which people in the West have pondered the very nature of humanity itself. In Kang’s telling, automata are mirrors of the ideas, fears, and anxieties of a given era, in that attitudes towards the machines have always been indicative of a moment’s zeitgeist. The book is historically sweeping, but not comprehensive; the focus is on what Kang takes to be key changes in the representations of and responses to automata. His main interest is on how Europeans in different periods of the past thought about the very notion of a self-moving machine that acted as if it were alive and how they used it for various symbolic and intellectual purposes.

Leonardo s Lost Robots

Author: Mark Rosheim
Publisher: Springer Science & Business Media
ISBN: 9783540284406
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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This book reinterprets Leonardo da Vinci's mechanical design work, revealing a new level of sophistication not recognized by art historians or engineers. The book reinterprets Leonardo's legacy of notes, showing that apparently unconnected fragments from dispersed manuscripts actually comprise cohesive designs for functioning automata. Using the rough sketches scattered throughout almost all of Leonardo's notebooks, the author has reconstructed Leonardo's programmable cart, which was the platform for other automata. Through a readable, lively narrative, the author explains how he reconstructed da Vinci's designs.

Prophecy Alchemy and the End of Time

Author: Leah DeVun
Publisher: Columbia University Press
ISBN: 0231519346
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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In the middle of the fourteenth century, the Franciscan friar John of Rupescissa sent a dramatic warning to his followers: the last days were coming; the apocalypse was near. Deemed insane by the Christian church, Rupescissa had spent more than a decade confined to prisons in one case wrapped in chains and locked under a staircase yet ill treatment could not silence the friar's apocalyptic message. Religious figures who preached the end times were hardly rare in the late Middle Ages, but Rupescissa's teachings were unique. He claimed that knowledge of the natural world, and alchemy in particular, could act as a defense against the plagues and wars of the last days. His melding of apocalyptic prophecy and quasi-scientific inquiry gave rise to a new genre of alchemical writing and a novel cosmology of heaven and earth. Most important, the friar's research represented a remarkable convergence between science and religion. In order to understand scientific knowledge today, Leah DeVun asks that we revisit Rupescissa's life and the critical events of his age the Black Death, the Hundred Years' War, the Avignon Papacy through his eyes. Rupescissa treated alchemy as medicine (his work was the conceptual forerunner of pharmacology) and represented the emerging technologies and views that sought to combat famine, plague, religious persecution, and war. The advances he pioneered, along with the exciting strides made by his contemporaries, shed critical light on later developments in medicine, pharmacology, and chemistry.

Gods and Robots

Author: Adrienne Mayor
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 0691185441
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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The fascinating untold story of how the ancients imagined robots and other forms of artificial life—and even invented real automated machines The first robot to walk the earth was a bronze giant called Talos. This wondrous machine was created not by MIT Robotics Lab, but by Hephaestus, the Greek god of invention. More than 2,500 years ago, long before medieval automata, and centuries before technology made self-moving devices possible, Greek mythology was exploring ideas about creating artificial life—and grappling with still-unresolved ethical concerns about biotechne, “life through craft.” In this compelling, richly illustrated book, Adrienne Mayor tells the fascinating story of how ancient Greek, Roman, Indian, and Chinese myths envisioned artificial life, automata, self-moving devices, and human enhancements—and how these visions relate to and reflect the ancient invention of real animated machines. As early as Homer, Greeks were imagining robotic servants, animated statues, and even ancient versions of Artificial Intelligence, while in Indian legend, Buddha’s precious relics were defended by robot warriors copied from Greco-Roman designs for real automata. Mythic automata appear in tales about Jason and the Argonauts, Medea, Daedalus, Prometheus, and Pandora, and many of these machines are described as being built with the same materials and methods that human artisans used to make tools and statues. And, indeed, many sophisticated animated devices were actually built in antiquity, reaching a climax with the creation of a host of automata in the ancient city of learning, Alexandria, the original Silicon Valley. A groundbreaking account of the earliest expressions of the timeless impulse to create artificial life, Gods and Robots reveals how some of today’s most advanced innovations in robotics and AI were foreshadowed in ancient myth—and how science has always been driven by imagination. This is mythology for the age of AI.

Memoirs of a Courtesan in Nineteenth century Paris

Author: comtesse Cäleste Vänard de Chabrillan
Publisher: U of Nebraska Press
ISBN: 9780803282735
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When Cäleste Mogador's memoirs were first published in 1854 and again in 1858, they were immediately seized and condemned as immoral and unsuitable for public consumption. For a reader in our more forgiving times, this extraordinary document offers not only a portrait of the early life of an intelligent, courageous, and infinitely intriguing Frenchwoman but also an exceedingly rare inside look at the world of the courtesans and prostitutes of nineteenth-century France. ø Writing to conciliate judges and creditors, Mogador (born Cäleste Venard in 1824) explains how with tenacity, wit, and audacity, she managed to escape a difficult childhood and subsequent life of prostitution to become, successively, a darling of the dance halls, a circus rider, and an actress, all the while attracting wealthy young men who vied for her favor. Although her account gives readers a peek into the rakish demimonde made famous by Verdi's opera La Traviata, its greatest value lies in its candid picture of a spunky, self-educated woman who doggedly transformed herself into an esteemed and prolific novelist and playwright, who fell in love with a count and married him, and who made her name synonymous with the bohemian life of the 1840s and 1850s in Paris.

The Bronze Object in the Middle Ages

Author: Ittai Weinryb
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 1316539024
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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This book presents the first full length study in English of monumental bronzes in the Middle Ages. Taking as its point of departure the common medieval reception of bronze sculpture as living or animated, the study closely analyzes the practice of lost wax casting (cire perdue) in western Europe and explores the cultural responses to large scale bronzes in the Middle Ages. Starting with mining, smelting, and the production of alloys, and ending with automata, water clocks and fountains, the book uncovers networks of meaning around which bronze sculptures were produced and consumed. The book is a path-breaking contribution to the study of metalwork in the Middle Ages and to the re-evaluation of medieval art more broadly, presenting an understudied body of work to reconsider what the materials and techniques embodied in public monuments meant to the medieval spectator.

The lure of antiquity and the cult of the machine

Author: Horst Bredekamp
Publisher: Markus Wiener Pub
ISBN: 9781558760936
Format: PDF, ePub
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The Kunstkammer was a programmatic display of art and oddities amassed by wealthy Europeans during the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. These nascent museums reflected the ambitions of such thinkers as Descartes, Locke, and Kepler to unite the forces of nature with art and technology. The bizarre inventory of the Kunstkammer - ranging from minerals to exotic plants and animals, statues, and machines - was intended to illustrate the mechanistic order of the universe. Such collections confirmed a belief in the continual evolution of man's god-like power of creativity. Bredekamp advances a radical view that the baroque Kunstkammer is also the nucleus of modern cyberspace.