Pandora’s stories: The first robots

Grasping a thick staff he limped from the forge, supported by servants made of gold, fashioned like living girls, who attended swiftly on their master. As well as the use of their limbs they had intellect, and the immortals gave them skill in subtle crafts. They supported Hephaestus as he limped towards Thetis, and seated himself on a gleaming chair. Then he took her hand and spoke to her: ‘Thetis of the long robe, honoured and welcome, though unaccustomed, guest, what brings you here? Say what you need, and my heart prompts me to fulfil it, if it can be done, and I can do it.’

This is how Homer describes Hephaestus’ robots. Far, far into the future we too will make robots, but unlike the gods we may not be able to control them. What will happen then?


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