It’s interesting that right now, artificial intelligence is really dominating the headline. Society once again is awestruck and surprised that machines, mechina, can “simulate intelligence” or act like they are alive. It can come off like magic inside of a box or a ghost in a machine in this digital age. As I am a Battlestar Galactica fan, that got me thinking, has this all happened before and shall happen again? Was there ever an analog artificial intelligence? On this episode, I explore the idea of looking at my take at the closest thing I can think of to an Analog AI or Mechina Intelligence. Now, of course, as I’m a technologist, it is easy to jump back to Ada Lovelace and the analytical engine and the concepts of the beginning of computer programming. But I wanted to go back even further, and arguably even deeper. Looking at the ancient world of automata machines, devices that run on their own off of mechanical power and yet, in their era; acted like or could simulate what a human or an animal could do.
These centuries-old technologies were all once some of the best artisanal technology there were, and many of the concepts that constructed those at Automata are closely linked to the art and science of horology.
On this episode, meet Brittany “Nico” Cox of Vashon Island here in Washington State. She’s is an Antiquarian Hologlogist and owner of Memorial Technica. Nico specializes in the conservation and restoration of antique automata, mechanical musical objects, complicated clocks and watches, and perhaps her favorite mechina; singing bird objects.
If there ever was an analog artificial intelligence than Nico’s specialized craft in urology with at Automata, I think that’s probably the closest thing that I’ll find. What did civilizations hundreds of years ago? When these technological artisans created this MENA intelligence, and better yet, in today’s urology, is there a place still for mechanical auto Automata?
AE 17 Reference Notes
Antiquarian Horologist. Brittany Nicole Cox | Memoria Technica
Great Big Story – A Craft of Future Past: Mastering Antiquarian Horology
Horological Society of New York – Horological Conservation A Study of Bellows Materials in Smoking Automata, by Brittany Nicole Cox
The Silver Swan automaton | Barnard Castle, England
The Coburg Ivories
Engine Turning | Ornamental Turning
Modern Automaton makers
- Vancleef and Arpels
- François Junod – automaton maker in Switzizerland
- Faberge Eggs
What is an Antiquarian Horologist?
Mechanical Bird automaton
Quill & Pad
Toledo Museum of Art