a16z Podcast

a16z Podcast: Ancient Dreams of Technology, Gods & Robots

Adrienne Mayor and Hanne Winarsky

Posted November 19, 2018

Is it possible that ancient Greeks and Romans dreamed of technological innovations like robots and artificial intelligence millennia before those technologies became realities? In this episode of the a16z Podcast, Adrienne Mayor, historian of science and author of the just released Gods & Robots: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology, discusses with Hanne Tidnam the earliest myths around ideas of technology and even artificial life from the ancient world — from the first imagined robot to walk the earth, to actual historical technological wonders of the ancient world such as mechanical flying doves or a giant miles-long parade of 10-foot-tall automatons. What do these early imaginings of technological invention tell us about human nature? And what can we take from understanding the deep roots of this mythology for the era of technology, today?

Mayor is the 2018-19 Berggruen Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, and author of The Amazons: Lives and Legends; Fossil Legends of the First Americans; and The Poison King, which was a National Book Award finalist.