A Chinese book dating back to the 3rd century AD describes the meeting between the emperor and a figure that “walked, moved its head and could be mistaken for a live human being”. In 11th-century Baghdad, an
automatic flautist was built for the entertainment of the caliph. In 1206, the engineer Al-Jazari created a musical band
of robots that could perform more than 50 movements during each piece of music.

In late 18th-century London, Psycho, an automaton resembling an oriental magician, would read people’s fortune in
the cards, solve mathematical problems and smoke incessantly.

The digital revolution enables pragmatic, mass-produced robots to be assigned repetitive tasks, while human intelligence comes to grips with the original challenge: getting AI to match man’s image and likeness.

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