Report: Slave and Expert Systems

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  Early Tools and Machines

Already in early cultures men aimed at the expansion of their physical power in order to facilitate work processes. In prehistoric times first tools made of stone were developed and some thousand years later followed by the invention of simple mechanical devices and machines such as the wheel, the lever and the pulley.

Next came the construction of powered machines. Waterwheels, windmills and simple steam-driven devices did no longer require human strength to be operated. In China for example trip-hammers powered by flowing water and waterwheels were already used some 2,000 years ago.

Besides tools and machines, which helped to extend men's physical power also devices to support mental faculties, especially in the field of mathematics, were invented. As soon as 3000 BC the abacus was developed in Babylonia. By using a system of sliding beads arranged on a rack early merchants could make computations, which helped them keep track of their trading transactions.

Also, early "industrial-robot devices" were developed as soon as 250 BC. The clepsydra, or water clock, which improved upon the hourglass by employing a siphon principle to automatically recycle itself, was constructed by a Greek inventor and physicist, Ctesibius of Alexandria.

browse Report:
Slave and Expert Systems
-4   Introduction: The Substitution of Human Faculties with Technology: Early Tools
-3   Introduction: The Substitution of Human Faculties with Technology: Powered Machines
-2   Introduction: The Substitution of Human Faculties with Technology: Computers and Robots
-1   Introduction: The Substitution of Human Faculties with Technology: Artificial Intelligence and Expert Systems
0   Early Tools and Machines
+1   The 17th Century: The Invention of the First "Computers"
+2   The 18th Century: Powered Machines and the Industrial Revolution
+3   The 19th Century: Machine-Assisted Manufacturing
1980s: Artificial Intelligence (AI) - From Lab to Life
Robot relates to any automatically operated machine that replaces human effort, though it may not resemble human beings in appearance or perform functions in a humanlike manner. The term is derived from the Czech word robota, meaning "forced labor." Modern use of the term stems from the play R.U.R., written in 1920 by the Czech author Karel Capek, which depicts society as having become dependent on mechanical workers called robots that are capable of doing any kind of mental or physical work. Modern robot devices descend through two distinct lines of development--the early automation, essentially mechanical toys, and the successive innovations and refinements introduced in the development of industrial machinery.