Human-like robots infused with the transformative power of artificial intelligence: It’s a sci-fi staple that is now within the realm of possible—but just because we can do it doesn’t mean we should. What does it mean for humans to want to create artificial life that’s modeled after both our bodies and our minds?

The endeavor already and naturally extends to commerce and industry: Humanoid robots could bring substantial economic benefits by fitting into existing human roles and spaces without requiring an overhaul of infrastructure. But the idea goes further back than the 1984 blockbuster film Terminator—much further back.

“There’s a long history of robots that goes all the way back to the Egyptians—it’s always trying to create lifelike creatures,” UC Berkeley Industrial Engineering Professor Ken Goldberg told Decrypt. “We’ve had a fascination with these for millennia. You could say that all of art is, in some way, trying to create representations of life.”

As Goldberg…

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