I have not forgotten about the looming robot menace.
I was totally unaware of the fact that Karel Capek coined the term “robot”.
Reading that post made me recall the 18th century Chess Automaton known as The Turk. Its most famous game ran like this:
The year is 1809 and Napoleon is on campaignâ€”not at war, but chess. And his adversary is not a man but a machine.
Napoleon attacks early, rushing out his queen. The Automaton defends easily, threatening to capture it. Already Napoleon is in retreat. A bad loser at anything, he is visibly annoyed. He tries to confuse the machine with an illegal move. In one version, he even covers its head with a shawl, then places a huge magnet on the board. In vain: the Automaton wins. Napoleon storms out.
Of course, should one read on, one would see that it was all a hoax, one of the finest and most elaborate in modern history. Well, 18th century chess history.
The latter was the first true chess automaton. It was designed and built by Leonardo Torres y Quevedo, a Spanish mathematician, engineer, and genius. El Ajedrecista was not a full blown chess player. It could only play three piece endgames (King and Rook against King), but it won every time. It could even detect illegal moves. It is on display now at the Colegio de Ingenieros de Caminos, Canales y Puertos in Madrid.
Flash forward about a century and we have computers that regularly test (and often defeat) the finest chess minds in the world. We also have robots that can hit a mjaor league pitch. But don’t worry… we have things totally under control.