The Defecating Duck and Eighteenth-Century Wetware

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As mentioned the other day in class, Stanford History prof Jessica Riskin does really interesting work on the history of AI, starting in the second half of the 18th century. She has a great paper, The Defecating Duck, or the Ambiguous Origins of Artificial Life about Vaucanson’s duck and flute-playing automata. All very much like the jeweled-head terminal in Neuromancer.

I also really recommend this paper: Eighteenth-Century Wetware, which draws a comparison between contemporary work in simulation and this particular aesthetic of automatons in the 18th century.