Monthly Archives: January 2002

My third book, The Mechanical Turk, will be out in April. (It will be called simply The Turk in the US.) The book tells the story of the chess-playing machine built by Wolfgang von Kempelen, a Hungarian nobleman, in 1769 in response to a challenge from Maria Theresa, empress of Austria-Hungary. It defeated Napoleon, Benjamin Franklin and Charles Babbage, among many others. But could a machine really play chess, or was it all a hoax? The Turk, as the machine became known, caused a vigorous debate about the possibility of machine intelligence 150 years before the first computers were constructed.

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