Apr 28 • 41M

AE. 17 | The Antiquarian Horologist- Brittany Nicole Cox

Where horology and AI converge into 'mechina intelligence' ?

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AJ Barse
The Analog Explorer is a journey with fellow enthusiasts in the #watchfam to discover their passions. Host AJ Barse shares his drive for exploration through engaging discussions with avid collectors and creative watchmakers. Through insightful interviews, the podcast celebrates the impact and art of horology. The most universally limited resource is time; and the Analog Explorer reminds us all of the need to Fac Tempus Ad Explorandum i.e. "Make the Time To Explore."

It's interesting how artificial intelligence is dominating the headlines. Society once again is awestruck that machines, mechina, can “simulate intelligence” and act like they are alive. It comes off like magic inside a box or a ghost in a machine. As a Battlestar Galactica fan I got to thinking; has this all happened before and shall it all happen again? Was there ever an analog artificial intelligence? On this episode, I explore the closest thing I can think of to an analog AI or mechina intelligence.

As a technologist, it is easy to jump back to Ada Lovelace and the analytical engine, the concept for the beginning of computer programming. But I want to go back even further and arguably deeper. Looking at the ancient world of automata machines, devices that run off their own mechanical power, these mechina could simulate life.

These centuries-old technologies were once some of the best artisanal technology in existence. Many of the concepts that constructed those automata are closely linked to the art and science of horology.

On this episode, meet Brittany “Nico” Cox of Vashon Island here in Washington State. She's is an Antiquarian Horoglogist and owner of Memoria Technica. Nico specializes in the conservation and restoration of antique automata, mechanical musical objects, complicated clocks and watches, and, perhaps her favorite mechina of singing bird objects.

If there was ever an analog artificial intelligence, then Nico's specialized craft in horology and automata is probably the closest thing to it that I'll find. What did civilizations think hundreds of years ago when these technological artisans created this mechina intelligence? Perhaps a better question is, in today's horology, is there still a place for mechinca automata?

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AE 17 Reference Notes

Antiquarian Horologist. Brittany Nicole Cox | Memoria Technica


Great Big Story - A Craft of Future Past: Mastering Antiquarian Horology

Horological Society of New York - Horological Conservation A Study of Bellows Materials in Smoking Automata, by Brittany Nicole Cox

The Silver Swan automaton | Barnard Castle, England

By Andrew Curtis, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14215737

The Coburg Ivories

Engine Turning | Ornamental Turning

Sacred Geometry Coloring Book

Rosette patters from an ornametal turning lathe | pages from Sacred Geomentry Coloring Book via Mechanical Curios website

Modern Automaton makers

Other References

What is an Antiquarian Horologist?

Mechanical Bird automaton

Quill & Pad

Toledo Museum of Art

Fratello Watches

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