Markets in everything

For the past year and a half, he has been running a business, the Frivolous Engineering Co., that sells kits to build the gadgets—enough of them that he no longer repairs soft-drink machines.

And what is this fine gentleman from Saskatchewan marketing the instruction kits for?

Invented in the 1950s by an artificial-intelligence expert, the device is known as the “useless machine.” It is typically a small box with an on/off switch and a hinged lid. Turn on the switch and a lever pops out, turns off the switch, then retreats. That is the machine’s sole purpose: You turn it on, and it turns itself off.

There are many kinds of the machines:

There are useless machines made of wood, Plexiglas and Lego parts. There is a very tall useless machine. One uses a furry paw to pop out and switch itself off. Another does it with a toy duck’s bill. There is a useless machine battling another useless machine, turning each other on and off, over and over.

Note that while some call it the “useless” machine, a’ la Turing others call it the “ultimate” machine.  The full article is here.


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