Golem and A.I. (was: robot etymology)

Steve Hicks Hixmaddog at AOL.COM
Fri Mar 8 00:58:20 UTC 2002

> Note also the legends of the Golem, a monster of 16th century Jewish
> folklore, who himself comes from Prague (back before there was a
> Czechoslovakia).  The Golem was a creature conjured up by Rabbi Loew
> of Prague using Kabbalistic methodology who is infused with life by
> supernatural (rather than, as with Frankenstein, scientific) means to
> save the Jewish community and then (like Frankenstein's creature and
> various robots) goes out of control.  Supposedly the story of the
> Golem underlies many of the sci-fi robot stories, including Asimov's,
> and also influenced Norbert Wiener and other early cyber-pioneers in
> their views of the possibilities and dangers of artificial intelligence.
   > maybe the
   early 1920's called Der Golem.

       Interesting that you mention Norbert Weiner and Rabbi Loew,
creator of the actual golem, in the same note.  If I remember right
(probably in one of Minsky's books), Weiner and John von Neumann
both claimed descent from Rabbi Loew.  Note the following (source

       Goldsmith (1981) reports golem legends going back to the fourth
         century B.C.E., and describes their continuing popularity in Jewish
         legend.  Norbert Weiner the Jewish dean of analog cybernetics was
         quite influenced by this concept of information embedded in physical
         dynamics (Heims 1984, Eglash 1992). He made several references to
         the golern in his writing, and reported that even as a child he was
         fascinated by the idea of making a doll come alive.

Steve Hicks

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