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kottke.org posts about Paleo-Future

The real Turing test

posted by Tim Carmody   Aug 13, 2010

I had a number of practicing writers in mind when I started using the word “paleoblogging,” including Matt Novak of Paleo-Future. Matt’s particularly good at pulling images and advertisements from old periodicals and ephemera — stuff that doesn’t even usually get digitally indexed — that taken together reveal a kind of historical unconscious of old ideas and fears about the future.

Here’s a good one (from the archives, naturally) of a 1930 ad warning of the death of the music industry at the hands of guitar-playing robots.

As usual, there’s an additional layer of allegory here — the robots are just a convenient stand-in for “canned,” piped-in music from gramophone records (or maybe even the radio, I don’t know) in theaters. Just remember: even if they play guitar, write really sensitive songs, and seem like they can express what you’ve always thought but just couldn’t find the words to say, don’t date robots!