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Thetis receiving the arms of Achilles from Hephaestus by Peter Paul Rubens (1630)     Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Public Domain)

Ancient Artificial Intelligence: The Mechanical Messiah and Other Automatons

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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)

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.

John Murray Spear inventor of the Mechanical Messiah

No Manger for the Mechanical Messiah

The Mechanical Messiah was not born in a stable, nor warmed by the loving breath of an ox and a donkey, as the established Christian tradition would have one believe. No, this very strange, technological transformer between the Earth and Heaven, between the Immanent and the Transcendent was born in a laboratory at High Rock Cottage, Massachusetts.


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Dr Roberto Volterri is the author of 40 books including Gli Stregoni Della Scienza

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

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Public Domain)

By Dr Roberto Volterri


Dr Roberto

Born in Rome, Dr Roberto Volterri graduated in archaeology with an experimental thesis in archaeometry in the mid-'80s after previous university studies in Biology.  As an academic, he worked in university research (Archaeometallurgy) for more than 40 years, after he... Read More

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