Episode 15: A Conversation with Daniel H. Wilson

In this episode, Byron and Daniel talk about magic, robots, Alexa, optimism, and ELIZA.



Daniel H. Wilson is a Cherokee citizen and author of the New York Times bestselling Robopocalypse and its sequel Robogenesis, as well as seven other books, including How to Survive a Robot Uprising, A Boy and His Bot, and Amped. He earned a PhD in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as Masters degrees in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. His latest novel is called The Clockwork Dynasty. Wilson lives in Portland, Oregon.


Byron Reese: This is Voices in AI, brought to you by Gigaom. I’m Byron Reese. Today, our guest is Daniel Wilson. He is the author of the New York Times best-selling Robopocalypse, and its sequel, Robogenesis, as well as other books, including How to Survive A Robot Uprising, A Boy And His Bot, and Amped. He earned a PhD in Robotics from Carnegie-Mellon University, and a master’s degree in AI and robotics, as well. His newest novel, The Clockwork Dynasty, was released in August 2017. Welcome to the show, Daniel.

Daniel H Wilson: Hi, Byron. Thanks for having me.

So how far back—the earliest robots—I guess they began in Greek myth, didn’t they?

Yeah, so it’s something I have been thinking a lot about, because automatons play a major part in my novel The Clockwork Dynasty. I started thinking about, how far back does this desire to build robots, or lifelike machines, really go? Yeah, and if you start to look at history, you’ll see that we have actual artifacts from the last few hundred years.

And before that, we have a lot stories. And before that, we have mythology, and it does go all the way back to Greek mythology. People might remember that Hephaestus supposedly built tripod robots to serve the gods on Mount Olympus.

The Fourth Age

They had to chain them up at night, didn’t they, because they would wander off?