IEEE Spectrum is publishing a six-part series exploring the human history of AI. the_newsbeagle writes: The 19th century British engineer Charles Babbage is sometimes called the father of the computer. But his first design for a massive computing machine, a contraption called the Difference Engine that had some 25,000 parts, was just a giant calculator intended to handle logarithmic tables. It wasn't until he began designing his first Analytical Engine that he began to dream of a smart machine that could handle more general-purpose computations. This short essay argues that Babbage's creative leap was inspired by an early example of AI hype: A supposed chess-playing machine called The Turk that had astounded onlookers throughout the courts of Europe. Babbage played two games against the Turk, and lost both.

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