The Most Human Human

  • by Brian Christian
  • Narrated by Brian Christian
  • 9 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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?


What the Critics Say

"This book will surely change the way readers think about their conversations." (Booklist)
"A heady exploration of the intersection of artificial intelligence (AI) and human nature. Christian's examination of the way machines are forcing us to appreciate what it means to be human leads him to explore everything from poetry, chess and existentialism…[and] offers an overview of the history of AI." (Kirkus Reviews)
"This is a strange, fertile, and sometimes beautiful book. It has been said that man creates images of himself, then comes to resemble the images. Something like this seems to be going on with the computer. Brian Christian writes with a rare combination of what Pascal took to be two contrary mindsets: the spirit of geometry and the spirit of finesse. He takes both the deep limitations and halting progress of artificial intelligence as an occasion for thinking about the most human activity - the art of conversation." (Matthew B. Crawford, author of Shop Class as Soulcraft)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A Wedding of Computer Science and Philosophy

Brian Christian has wed computer science and philosophy in “The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us about What it Means to be Alive.” From this book I have received new insights from Artificial Intelligence, interpersonal communication, and simple conversation. This book links computers and computer science to group and individual identity which will shift the reader’s thinking certainly. Parenthetically, if you are planning to read Stephen Baker’s “Final Jeopardy: Man vs Machine and the Quest to Know Everything” you might want to read this book first. If you have completed that book, put Christian’s book on your reading list immediately. Well written, informative, and entertaining. Read expertly by the author.
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- Roy

Excellent listen

Brian Christian presents to the listener a wonderfully crafted text filled with linguistics, computer- and cognitive-science, philosophy and... chess! His book presents a fascinating tale of being classified as the "most human human" in a competition dedicated to testing computers' ability to act in a human fashion. As an interested layman in the aforementioned fields, I found this book engaging, simple but not simplistic and great to listen to.
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- Danny Kopping

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-01-2011
  • Publisher: Random House Audio