Most useless machine ever

The most useless machine ever has rapidly become the internet’s first viral hit of the New Year. Essentially, it’s a little wooden box with a switch, but you’ve got to watch the video to see it in action:

But, of course, it’s anything but a useless machine, it’s the embodiment of at least one principle of information, a combination of Boolean logical statements (you know those AND, NOT, NOR, OR things). When x = 0 we have the NULL statement. Nothing happens. But, IF x = 1 THEN an action is taken that sets x = 0. It’s also the embodiment of bits and entropy as defined by Claude Shannon and predicted by Arthur C Clarke, of course.

As ever, nothing new under the sun, and although Instructables has had a hit with its little wooden box, there was apparently a toy “way back” in the 1960s that had this same functionality and Shannon himself apparently demonstrated the exact same world’s most useless machine on TV in the 1950s.

The irony of such a device will not be lost on those who have suffered a computer hang and been presented with an obscure dialog box that has only a cancel button…

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