The Origins of Artificial Intelligence
Perhaps the earliest examples of the urge to make artificial persons are the Greek Gods. ... As a present from Zeus to Europa, Hephaestus makes Talos, a man of bronze whose duty is to patrol the beaches of Crete. He thwarts invaders by hurling great rocks at them, or by heating himself red hot and squeezing trespassers in a warm embrace.
-Pamela McCorduck from Machines Who Think
The intellectual roots of AI, and the concept of intelligent machines, may be found in Greek mythology. Intelligent artifacts appear in literature since then, with mechanical devices actually (and sometimes fraudulently) demonstrating behaviour with some degree of intelligence. After modern computers became available following World War II, it has become possible to create programs that perform difficult intellectual tasks. Even more importantly, general purpose methods and tools have been created that allow similar tasks to be performed. See our Brief History for a summary of significant milestones.