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Artificial Intelligence: Old School

March 27, 2013

The Turk

The Singularity might be around the corner. Then again, maybe not. We’ve been down the road with the possibility of chess-playing AIs before, and things don’t always work out the way we expect. Adam Gopnick explains:

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the Turk. That sounds, I know, like a very 19th Century remark. “Have you been thinking about the Turk?” one bearded British statesman might have asked another in the 1860s, with an eye to the Sublime Porte and Russian designs on it, and all the rest.

No, The Turk I have in mind is both older and newer than that – I mean the famous 18th Century chess-playing automaton, recently and brilliantly reconstructed in California. And the reason I have been thinking about it is that – well, there are several reasons, one folded into the next, beginning with the candidates’ tournament for the world chess championship, being held in London this week, and enclosing, at the end, my own 18-year-old son’s departure for college.

If you haven’t heard of it before, I should explain what the Turk is, or was. There’s a very good book by Tom Standage all about it.

Read the rest at the BBC. And don’t forget about the Defecating Duck.

Update: I shouldn’t have overlooked the occasional sci-fi references to the Turk – this one, for example.

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From → AI, Chess

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