“Inventors Are Sometimes Beneficiaries of Their Own Ignorance”

William Rosen gives us a thought-provoking anecdote about Edmund Cartwright, the inventor of the first power loom:

(p. 238) He was also, apparently, convinced of the practicality of such a machine by the success of the “Mechanical Turk,” a supposed chess-playing robot that had mystified all of Europe and which had not yet been revealed as one of the era’s great hoaxes: a hollow figurine concealing a human operator. Inventors are sometimes beneficiaries of their own ignorance.

Source:
Rosen, William. The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention. New York: Random House, 2010.

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