Document Type

Book Review


Classical Studies

Journal Title

Ancient History Bulletin

Pub Date




First Page



Excerpt from the article: "

In 1942, the great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov conceived of three laws of Robotics mandating that: “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.” A later addition, the fourth, or zeroth law, outweighed the others: “A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm” (“Runaround,” 1942, later republished in I, Robot [1950]; Mayor, p. 177). Such anxieties resonated with ancient thinkers, and Mayor interrogates these and similar tensions in Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines and Ancient Dreams of Technology. One of her stated goals is to “suggest that on deeper levels the ancient myths about artificial life can provide a context from the exponential developments in artificial life and Artificial Intelligence (AI)—and the looming practical and moral implications” (p. 214). In this she succeeds as she straddles the myth, philosophy, science, and technology of the ancient and modern worlds..."