Mankind has made machines that make machines
at least since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
Thomas Carlyle argued that we have also mechanized ourselves
and our society, but mechanization has not been all bad.
Yacc is an example of the beauty of higher-order operations;
it interprets statements in Backus–Naur Form
to generate a parser for programs written in a computer language.
See also in The book of science:
Readings in wikipedia: