Man as Machine

A peculiar experiment inspired by the Enlightenment sheds light on the age-old question of what makes us human.

Max Byrd

Once or twice a year France’s National Museum of Technology, on the nondescript rue Vaucanson in Paris, announces a special demonstration. On the second floor, at the end of a corridor of antique steam engines and jacquard looms, the museum’s Theater of Automates swings open its doors. At the bottom of a small, dark auditorium, the Keeper of Automates takes a few of his oldest, most fragile exhibits from their locked glass cases.

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