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AI NarrativesA History of Imaginative Thinking about Intelligent Machines$
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Stephen Cave, Kanta Dihal, and Sarah Dillon

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198846666

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198846666.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 30 July 2021

Homer’s Intelligent Machines

Homer’s Intelligent Machines

AI in Antiquity

(p.25) 1 Homer’s Intelligent Machines
AI Narratives

Genevieve Liveley

Sam Thomas

Oxford University Press

Through close literary analysis of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, this chapter traces the various gradations of weak to strong machine ‘intelligence’ that these ancient poems describe and the mind models that they assume. Beginning with a re-examination of the weak AI evinced in Homer’s descriptions of relatively simple automata, it goes on to analyse Homer’s autonomous vehicles and golden slave girls, considering the more sophisticated models of artificial mind and machine cognition attributed to Homer’s stronger, embodied AI. Throughout, this chapter asks: What kinds of priorities and paradigms do we find in AI stories from Homeric epic and how do these still resonate in contemporary discourse on AI? In particular, what distinctions does Homer draw between artificial and human minds and intelligences? And what is the legacy of Homer’s intelligent machines and the ancient narrative history of AI?

Keywords:   Homer, myth, epic, mind, slaves, machine, automata, vehicles

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