BlogAutomata and Robots – Writer’s Block Musings

Automata and Robots – Writer’s Block Musings

By Gary Stokes
November 3rd, 2019


[ aw-tomuh-ton, -tn ]

noun, plural au·tom·a·tons, au·tom·a·ta  [aw-tomuh-tuh] .

a mechanical figure or contrivance constructed to act as if by its own motive power; robot.


Stuck for something to write about today, and thinking about where our business is headed, I decided to share some interesting stuff I learned about robots and automata.

You may be surprised to learn that in the 15th century Leonardo Da Vinci was a notorious dabbler in the conception and creation of automatons, including a self-propelled cart and a mechanical knight in armor.  Da Vinci automata 

What you might find more surprising is that Da Vinci was as much as 18 centuries behind the times. Meaning that, as fascinated as we are with the future of robotics, the seed of the idea precedes us by at least 2300 years. You can see a brief summary of that history here. 

It’s both awe-inspiring and humbling. And it makes you wonder what some future blogger in the year 4300 will think about our moment in time. As excited as we are about the possibilities for robots, how crude will our efforts look by then? What mysteries have we yet to unlock to reveal the full potential of robots, robotics, and AI?

We like to think that Da Vinci would be in awe of what we achieved since his time. But would he? Or did he sit in his study on a November Sunday morning in 15th century Florence, wishing that he could only have more time to turn his visions into reality?

No one knows for sure what the future of robotics looks like. But a long past filled with great thinkers and tinkerers foreshadows great developments to come. Let’s hope that we use them in ways that would make Da Vinci proud to be part of that history.

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