Automatons! From Ovid to AI
Hero of Alexandria, known for his works on topics from theoretical mechanics to catapult design, describes his theatrical automata as the culmination of mechanics. This lecture will introduce these automata and the mechanisms that drove them, consider what it means to think of “programming” in terms of concrete materials rather than as abstractions of bits and bytes, and trace the cultural value of Hero’s automata from the Roman world to the Renaissance.
Courtney Ann Roby is Associate Professor of Classics at Cornell University and author of The Written Machine between Alexandria and Rome (2016) and Hero of Alexandria (forthcoming).
The 2018 Lecture Series is made possible with assistance from the University of King’s College (Contemporary Studies Program, Early Modern Studies Program and History of Science and Technology Program), Dalhousie University and Saint Mary’s University.