What the Turk essentially did was to allow a human to secretly do what the then-available technology couldn't.
And some form of this is present even today. Of course, our computers can now easily play and defeat humans in Chess with no help. But they cannot do tasks like identifying objects in an image or recognising unclear words, which humans can easily do.
(This is why Captchas make you do these things, to make sure you aren't a bot.)
You've probably never heard about it but Amazon runs a marketplace for companies to outsource to humans, these tasks which computers cannot do. It's called mTurk. Basically, anyone can register on mTurk and do these tasks and earn in cents, hardly around minimum wage.
This brings us to Seth Godin's description of the 5 types of freelancers:
- Mechanical Turks
Mechanical Turks are people doing what any human can. And they're doing it no better than the next person. Which is why they're paid less and face extreme competition. People like average drivers or delivery person. But they don't have to worry about marketing because some middleman brings them customers. Like for drivers, Uber and Ola. For delivery guys, Zomato and Flipkart.
Being a Turk isn't very helpful. You're paid less. You can be easily replaced. You're a cog in the system run by someone else. Please do not be a Turk.