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Artificial Intelligence: From Greek Mythology to ChatGPT

Artificial intelligence or AI has entered almost every sphere of our lives. From the new Snapchat feature that enables you to talk to AI to ChatGPT and DALL·E which offer assistance to various aspects of our work life, AI has turned into that piece of gossip in a high school that is difficult to ignore.

Initially viewed as something wondrous, technologies like ChatGPT, Midjourney, and DALL·E have become a source of generating content, answering queries, and even going as far as becoming pseudo tarot readers who can predict our future and offer solutions to the imperfect aligning of our stars. It has the vision and ambition to take over every sphere of our lives.

Ancient Greek wearing VR headsets; Image Source: Midjourney AI

However, before I get into the contemporary apprehensions and opinions about artificial intelligence, did you know that the scepticism around AI and automation has been present since the Ancient Greeks? I know it sounds absurd, but it is true. Or, it is believed to be true.

According to Greek mythology, Talos, a brass “robot”, was created by the god Hephaestus to protect the island of Crete. This 30-metre-tall brass gift was given to Minos to ward off any invaders that tried to attack Crete. Talos threw boulders at the invaders’ ships and revolved around the island three times a day to protect it. However, many were sceptical of its power and its "robotness". Hence, defeating him was the only way to remove this anxiety of a robot living in a land of humans. The Argonauts, a band of heroes, decided to defeat Talos with the help of Medea, a sorceress. Medea knew that the nail that held Talos’s ankle in place acted like a “plug”, and once that plug was detached from his body, he would die. Through her powers, she convinced Talos to remove the nail. The plug removed, Talos’s body began to ooze ichor, his life’s blood. The robot bled and died.

Talos, the First Robot; Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Talos, the First Robot; Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Such a mythical creature said to have existed centuries ago, showcased a reality that we once were unsure of. Years later, the human mind, capable of creating marvellous things, was able to create a form of intelligence that was far away from the human mind and yet an admirable copy of the same. A system created to help human minds enhance their work has now taken over our entire lives.

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