How could an 18th-century robot win at chess? By using a trick that big tech firms still pull on us today.
In the new podcast The Secret History of the Future, from Slate and the Economist: Examine the history of tech to uncover stories that help us illuminate the present and predict the future. From the world’s first cyberattack in 1834 to 19th-century virtual reality, the Economist’s Tom Standage and Slate’s Seth Stevenson find the ancient ingenuity that our modern digital technology can learn from and expose age-old weaknesses we are already on a course to repeat.
In the first episode: An 18th-century device called the Mechanical Turk convinced Europeans that a robot could play winning chess. But there was a trick. It’s a trick that companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook still pull on us today. Guests include futurist Jaron Lanier and Luis von Ahn, founder of CAPTCHA and Duolingo.