A harpsichord automaton. Malcolm Messiter
: "After hours of struggling with a soldering iron, suddenly it all became worth it when the system just worked flawlessly. The sheer joy and satisfaction of seeing and hearing it work for the first time was extraordinary. It played Soler’s Fandango, Brandenburg 5, the Goldberg Variations, and even the Flight of the Bumble Bee, late into that first night!" [Project direct link
(PDF, from p.27)].
posted by urbanwhaleshark
on Oct 20, 2012 -
A couple decades after the first appearance of Steam Men in the 19th century
, and a few years after the word "robot" was coined
, one Professor Harry May from London toured around the US with Alpha the robot
. The one ton mechanical man was built from a combination of modern inventions
that granted Alpha certain skills, from product model
and vocal promoter of the automatic electric toaster
, to gunslinger. The problem with giving Alpha a gun was that the robot revolted
), shooting his master and creator in 1932. After this incident, Alpha became Mary Ann
), complete with new hair, a dress, and a soprano voice.
posted by filthy light thief
on Aug 12, 2010 -
's 1984 book, Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology
was a seminal work for its discussion of how one might design a system (biological or otherwise) in order to generate behavior like that seen in beings with brains. He embarks on a series of thought experiments in which he creates thirteen "vehicles"
through simple components that (arguably) display intelligent behavior, evolving in a Darwinian fashion to demonstrate what appears to be high-level cognition. [more inside]
posted by emilyd22222
on Jan 17, 2010 -
I just finished up reading The Turk
by Tom Standage (briefly mentioned in passing here
) a biography of the chess-playing automaton that toured Europe and later the Americas during the pivotal transition from the 18th to the 19th century. The Automaton was invented as an exercise in national pride by Wolfgang von Kempelen,
who considered it a trifle compared to his experiments with mechanical speech synthesis.
As a celebrity, the automaton had historic encounters with Benjamin Franklin, Napoleon, Beethoven, Philidor
and Charles Babbage, and fictional encounters with the monarchs Catherine the Great, George III and Frederick II. Standage credits it with influencing the development of the Difference Engine
, the power loom, Poe's mystery stories
, and Barnum's manipulation of the press.
The myths surrounding have even caught James Randi
, who seems to have been unaware of a colleague's reconstruction
based on notes from the last owner.
posted by KirkJobSluder
on Sep 21, 2005 -
\Au*tom"a*ton\, n.; pl. L. Automata
, E. Automatons
. [L. fr. Gr. ?, neut. of ? self-moving; ? self + a root ma, man, to strive, think, cf. ? to strive.] 1. Any thing or being regarded as having the power of spontaneous motion or action.
posted by crunchland
on Apr 14, 2003 -