At CASBS, Adrienne Mayor will explore the deep roots of the impulse to fabricate artificial life, beings “made, not born.” Gathering evidence that concepts of robots, animated statues, human enhancements, and Artificial Intelligence arose long before technological innovations made them possible, Mayor looks at Greek myths (and tales from Egypt, India, and China) that envisioned ways to imitate, augment, and surpass nature by bio-techne, “life through craft.” She will also investigate the relationship between classical myths and real historical automata that began to proliferate in Hellenistic era, to understand how imagination is a link between myths about technology and science.
Meanwhile, Mayor will continue to research interdisciplinary topics in geomythology, to discover natural knowledge and scientific realities embedded in mythological traditions about nature.
A historian of ancient science and research scholar in classics and history and philosophy of science at Stanford since 2006, Mayor’s books include The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times (Princeton, 2000); Greek Fire, Poison Arrows, and Scorpion Bombs: Biological and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World (Overlook, 2003); The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women (Princeton, 2014); and a biography of Mithradates, The Poison King (Princeton, 2010), a National Book Award finalist. In 2018-19, she is a Berggruen fellow at CASBS.
For further information, see https://web.stanford.edu/dept/HPS/Mayor.html