The Most Human Human by Brian Christian
What Artificial Intelligence Teaches Us About Being Alive

84%

5 Critic Reviews

What Christian learns along the way is that if machines win the imitation game as often as they do, it’s not because they’re getting better at acting human; it’s because we’re getting worse.
-NY Times

Synopsis

The Most Human Human is a provocative, exuberant, and profound exploration of the ways in which computers are reshaping our ideas of what it means to be human. Its starting point is the annual Turing Test, which pits artificial intelligence programs against people to determine if computers can “think.”

Named for computer pioneer Alan Turing, the Tur­ing Test convenes a panel of judges who pose questions—ranging anywhere from celebrity gossip to moral conundrums—to hidden contestants in an attempt to discern which is human and which is a computer. The machine that most often fools the panel wins the Most Human Computer Award. But there is also a prize, bizarre and intriguing, for the Most Human Human.

In 2008, the top AI program came short of passing the Turing Test by just one astonishing vote. In 2009, Brian Christian was chosen to participate, and he set out to make sure Homo sapiens would prevail.

The author’s quest to be deemed more human than a com­puter opens a window onto our own nature. Interweaving modern phenomena like customer service “chatbots” and men using programmed dialogue to pick up women in bars with insights from fields as diverse as chess, psychiatry, and the law, Brian Christian examines the philosophical, bio­logical, and moral issues raised by the Turing Test.

One central definition of human has been “a being that could reason.” If computers can reason, what does that mean for the special place we reserve for humanity?


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Brian Christian

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BRIAN CHRISTIAN holds a dual degree from Brown University in computer science and philosophy, and an MFA in poetry. His work has appeared in both literary and scientific journals.
 
Published March 1, 2011 by Anchor. 322 pages
Genres: Computers & Technology, Education & Reference, Science & Math, Law & Philosophy, Professional & Technical, History. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Most Human Human
All: 5 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by DAVID LEAVITT on Mar 18 2011

What Christian learns along the way is that if machines win the imitation game as often as they do, it’s not because they’re getting better at acting human; it’s because we’re getting worse.

Read Full Review of The Most Human Human : What A... | See more reviews from NY Times

Publishers Weekly

Excellent
Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on Jan 03 2011

This fabulous book demonstrates that we are capable of experiencing and sharing far deeper thoughts than even the best computers—and that too often we fail to achieve the highest level of humanness.

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The Economist

Excellent
Reviewed by The Economist on May 05 2011

Two years ago Brian Christian landed the task of persuading these judges he was not a computer. His account of the experience is entertaining and informative.

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Salon

Below average
Reviewed by Laura Miller on Feb 26 2011

It’s an unusual book whose primary gift lies in distracting you from itself. I’d like to see the computers come up with something like that.

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Science News

Excellent
Reviewed by Laura Sanders on Nov 19 2011

A background in computer science, philosophy and poetry serves Christian well. His prose is cogent and quick, heart­felt and thoughtful. In other words, supremely human.

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James J. Stoodt 5 Sep 2013

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