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The Most Human Human: Book summary and reviews of The Most Human Human by Brian Christian

The Most Human Human

What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive

by Brian Christian

The Most Human Human by Brian Christian X
The Most Human Human by Brian Christian
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About this book

Book 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?

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. ...fast-paced, witty, and thoroughly winning style...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." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. This book will surely change the way readers think about their conversations." - Booklist

This information about The Most Human Human was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Charles Musselman

Wide ranging, amusing, and informative
For me, the chief insight is that much of our conversation is mere chit-chat, weather, sports, drivel. It is surprisingly difficult to reach a level of authenticity and intimacy that is uniquely human. Christian sets out to achieve this in competition. Along the way he covers a great number of topics, from AI to sense-of-self to customer support. This is the best book I read in 2011.

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Author Information

Brian Christian

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.

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