Drozbot – A Brief Explanation

In 1774 Pierre Jaquet-Droz and his son, Henri-Louise, enchanted hordes of travellers who journeyed to Neuchâtel in Switzerland to see their miniature, humanoid automatons in action. Originally, the creations of the family Jaquet-Droz were designed to exemplify their skill as watchmakers. But, after the coining of the term ‘android’, playing host to a Modern Prometheus musing Mary Shelley and surviving a Spanish trial for heresy, both they and their creations came to represent something much greater.

These androids, these robots of Droz, could perform numerous human tasks, but arguably the most famous among them was a small, female doll who could write short passages with a quill. Among her messages lay two quotes that served as the wellspring for the idea behind Drozbot.com. The first a subversion of Descartes’ philosophical cornerstone, “I do not think… do I therefore not exist?” The second a cool statement of fact, “Our mechanisms defy time.” Somewhere between this uncanny expression of humanity and idea of the increasing mechanisation of text, lie the stories gathered here. As for the desire to hold against the tides of time… Perhaps… Who knows…

For more information on the family Jaquet-Droz and automatons in general, check out Gaby Wood’s excellent Living Dolls.