Leonardo's Lost Robots

Category: Engineering
Author: Mark Rosheim
This Month Hacker News 1


by cr0sh   2019-05-26
> Do you think Leonardo Da Vinci have been a programmer and digital artist instead of a mechanist/inventor if born today?

Possibly. He was a "robotics engineer" of sorts:


He quite possibly invented a mechanical calculator:


So I could see him continue explorations of that nature.

> And would his contributions have the same impact?

Aside from his art, and possibly the various engineering commissions or consultations he was involved in - what was in his notebooks didn't see the light of day until long, long after his death. They were essentially "lost" until rediscovered much later. While he was alive, they were probably only seen by himself, and/or maybe a few students (speculating).

On the art side alone, though - would his works have the same impact? That's difficult to say. If they were collected, preserved, and viewed by their owners properly.

I don't know this for certain, but my guess is that most of the artwork of people like LDV of that era, their art were all private commissions, for the most part, outside of a very few pieces that were "publically viewable" - for various terms of "public". Those private commissions would have only been viewed by their owners, family, and maybe a few friends or acquaintances. Outside of those, the works would not have been public, until far later, as they were sold or otherwise "moved around" in the marketplace. Their value would increase or decrease almost at a whim, but also depending on how known the artist was, and other works by the artist. What we see today of these artists is probably mostly survivor bias. There's a good chance that there were others out there of a similar note who just didn't make it because of various reasons (along with a whole host of others who weren't as good, and their art - mediocre or whatnot as it may have been - became "trash" and didn't get passed down to us, but was thrown away over time).

So - if such digital works were created - in 500 years or so, if the work was preserved (migrated from media to media, from machine to "machine", platform to platform) - it's quite possible they would have the same impact - after enough time passed (and everything else being the same).

Pure speculation, of course...