Ancient Artificial Intelligence: The Mechanical Messiah and Other Automatons | Ancient Origins Members Site


Ancient Artificial Intelligence: The Mechanical Messiah and Other Automatons

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Thetis receiving the arms of Achilles from Hephaestus by Peter Paul Rubens (1630)

Ancient Artificial Intelligence: The Mechanical Messiah and Other Automatons

It may not be long before Artificial Intelligence creates access to God via modern technology, however during the 19th century, a spiritualist by the name of John Murray Spear was inspired to build a Mechanical Messiah. Born on September 16, 1804, into a deeply religious family, John Murray Spear eventually became a member and minister of the Universalist Church. He forsook his ministry for spiritualism and was aided in his endeavor by illustrious technical advisors, the members of the ‘Association of Electrizers’: Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826), the third president of the United States; John Quincy Adams (1767 – 1848) an American statesman, diplomat, and lawyer who served as the sixth president of the United States; Benjamin Rush (1746 - 1813) a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence and a civic leader in Philadelphia, and Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790) a scientist, journalist, politician, inventor and one of the major protagonists of the American Revolution. This ambitious project had one flaw – most of the technical team were deceased.

  Three of the Electricizers: John Quincy Adams (Public Domain); Benjamin Rush by Charles Peale (1818) (Public Domain) and Benjamin Franklin by Joseph Duplessis (1785) (Public Domain)

Three of the Electricizers: John Quincy Adams (Public Domain); Benjamin Rush by Charles Peale (1818) (Public Domain) and Benjamin Franklin by Joseph Duplessis (1785) (Public Domain)

The innovative Spear, under the influence of his first wife Sophronia, was intent on bettering the fate of this wretched humanity by providing it with all sorts of 'technical' information.  With the guidance of his highly qualified technical team, Spear received instructions for realizing the unattainable ‘perpetual’ death; a thinking machine; an electric ship and a global telepathic network. But his greatest achievement was a strange automaton, a curious device composed of electrical and mechanical parts that was to embody the 'New Motive Force', a technological 'Holy Spirit', a new 'Messiah' destined to awaken the whole of humanity from a demonic stupor. Spear believed he was spearheading a technological revolution (certainly not yet the Fourth) at a time when electricity was just beginning to enlighten the man in the street as to what 'miracles' human ingenuity was capable of.


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