Automaton



a mechanical figure or contrivance constructed to act as if by its own motive power; robot.
a person or animal that acts in a monotonous, routine manner, without active intelligence.
something capable of acting automatically or without an external motive force.
Contemporary Examples

“It was no brute whom Smiley was pursuing with such mastery, no unqualified fanatic after all, no automaton,” le Carré writes.
Iran’s Top Spy Is the Modern-Day Karla, John Le Carré’s Villainous Mastermind Michael Weiss July 1, 2014

But it did suggest that Rubio was more than a Reaganite automaton.
Charlie Crist’s Secret Reihan Salam May 12, 2009

Despite how he might come across in the history books, he wasn’t some bland, rule-following “high-integrity” automaton.
Wes Clark on Washington General Wesley K. Clark October 13, 2010

Historical Examples

Through it she darted, the automaton following relentlessly.
The Master Mystery Arthur B. Reeve and John W. Grey

Like an automaton he turned again and paced to the hall door.
The Street That Wasn’t There Clifford Donald Simak

The automaton reached out and began rubbing sharply at the insulation of the feed wires.
The Master Mystery Arthur B. Reeve and John W. Grey

I was an automaton turning a crank in the frozen stillness of the long, long night.
The Trail of ’98 Robert W. Service

Just as deliberately the automaton reached out to turn the handle of the combination.
The Master Mystery Arthur B. Reeve and John W. Grey

You take orders like an automaton, and you go execute them like an automaton.
The Long Roll Mary Johnston

Although this second automaton was very complicated, it did not so fully occupy my time as the first.
Memoirs of Robert-Houdin, ambassador, author and conjurer Jean Henri Robert-Houdin

noun (pl) -tons, -ta (-tə)
a mechanical device operating under its own hidden power; robot
a person who acts mechanically or leads a routine monotonous life
n.

1610s, from Latin automaton (Suetonius), from Greek automaton, neuter of automatos “self-acting,” from autos “self” (see auto-) + matos “thinking, animated, willing,” from PIE *mn-to-, from root *men- “to think” (see mind (n.)).

robotics, mathematics, algorithm
(Plural automata) A machine, robot, or formal system designed to follow a precise sequence of instructions.
Automata theory, the invention and study of automata, includes the study of the capabilities and limitations of computing processes, the manner in which systems receive input, process it, and produce output, and the relationships between behavioural theories and the operation and use of automated devices.
See also cellular automaton, finite state machine.
(1996-04-23)

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