They say that Descartes, after the death of his five-year-old daughter, became so obsessed with her absence that she created a doll very similar to the deceased and which she called in the same way: Francine. No wonder something like that, for Descartes, the body was a machine and nature an inert mechanism created by God, i.e. by an infinite, eternal, immutable and independent substance, as well as omniscient and omnipotent, to which the philosopher wanted to match Contriving an articulated doll that came to cover her daughter's absence.
On a certain occasion, traveling by boat in the North Sea, the philosopher took to the doll kept in a chest. The captain of the ship, intrigued, would force the chest until it was opened. When she saw that doll moving just as if she were human, the captain of the boat grabbed her and threw her overboard. Then Descartes did the same thing to the captain and threw him overboard. With this lurid story, we are unable to separate the reality of fiction; Something very common when the stories are starring robots or automata that come to take care of the most everyday chores, even occupying the site of the dead.
Thus it has been occurring since the times of the classical Greece, when the mechanical mills were mythological affair. Without going any further, Aristotle, in his policy, refers to them to justify slavery and tells us that entrepreneurs can not do without operators as neither can the Lords of the slaves, because the instruments do not work By themselves, as did the Daedalus statues that were reluctant to remain at rest, or the tripods of Hephaestus which, with their gold wheels, moved to meet the gods.
Remember that in classical mythology, Hephaestus is the god of the forging and to which is due the creation of Talus, the first mythological robot of the history and to which it presented like the sentry of Crete, always vigilant to prevent the foreigners entering the island. When he surprised some foreigner who had crossed the boundaries, he sank into the fire until he warmed up to red hot and, with his embrace, calcined the daring. Apollonius of Rhodes, in the epic poem Las Argonautica, introduces us to this mythological robot "formed of bronze and without possible fracture" throwing rocks to Jason and the Argonauts that, once reached the island of Crete, they were going to be made with the fleece of gold. Talus is the mythological archetype that is part of the memory of the human being in its protective dimension. In the same way we have the Golem, created to defend the Prague ghetto by the Prague Maharal, rabbi of the 16th century.
In short, the mechanics were nothing more than a fantasy until the advent of the Cartesian times, marked by the mechanism that explains the animated in terms of matter in motion. With such antecedent, the land would be fertilized so that Jacques Vauncason built in 1737 a life-size automaton that played the drum and the flute developing in his repertoire a dozen songs. That same year, it would create two more automata, a drummer and a duck with digestive system that ate and digesting cereals. Later, away from the amusement of his toys, Vauncason built the first modern automatic loom that refuted Aristotle and would place mechanical ingenuity in a real dimension.
It will be at the beginning of the twenties of the last century, when the term robot appears for the first time. He will do it in a theatrical play by Czech playwright Karel Čapek titled UK R (Rossum Universal Robots) and it is about a company that builds Robots endowed with artificial intelligence and that revolt against humans. Something, on the other hand, inadmissible for the laws of the robotics elaborated by Asimov years later, in its narrative Vicious Circle (1942), where it establishes, in the first place, that "a robot will never harm a human being". Second, that "robots must fulfil the orders given by human beings, except those that conflict with the first law" and, finally, that "a robot must protect its own existence to the extent that this protection does not enter Conflict with the first or the second law. "
All this comes to account because, for a few days and until the month of February next year, in Madrid, the Espacio Fundación Telefónica offers an exhibition dedicated to robots under the title: We Robots. Don't stop visiting her.