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The Most Human Human: What Talking With Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive by the author Brian Christian

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The Most Human Human: What Talking With Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive
Genre: Non-Fiction , Philosophy , Psychology , Science
Series: missing
Ratings: ★★★★☆
Publisher: Anchor
Pub Year:
ISBN: 0385533063
List Price: 0.00
Download: EPUB MOBI


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.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In a fast-paced, witty, and thoroughly winning style, Christian documents his experience in the 2009 Turing Test, a competition in which judges engage in five-minute instant-message conversations with unidentified partners, and must then decide whether each interlocutor was a human or a machine. The program receiving the most "human" votes is dubbed the "most human computer," while the person receiving the most votes earns the title of "most human human." Poet and science writer Christian sets out to win the latter title and through his quest, investigates the nature of human interactions, the meaning of language, and the essence of what sets us apart from machines that can process information far faster than we can. Ranging from philosophy through the construction of pickup lines to poetry, Christian examines what it means to be human and how we interact with one another, and with computers as equals—via automated telephone menus and within the medical establishment, for example. 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. (Mar.)
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From Booklist

Starred Review Each year humans and computers square off for the Turing test, which Christian describes as a kind of speed dating via instant messaging, with five minutes to prove which is human. In 2009, Christian traveled to Brighton, England, to compete in a contest matching four humans and four computers. Christian chronicles his preparation and time spent devising strategies to trump the chatbot computers that can imitate humans. Along the way, he draws on philosophy, neurology, linguistics, and computer science, recalling chess master Garry Kasparov losing a match to IBM's Deep Blue computer and more recent developments in artificial intelligence. He explores how computers have challenged our bias toward the left hemisphere of the brain (logic) versus the right hemisphere (emotions) and how he and others have come to a deeper appreciation of emotional intelligence. He laments how so many jobs have trained employees with limited scripts that render them human chatbots. Christian intersperses interviews and musings on poetry and literature, observations on computer science, and excerpts from post-Turing test conversations for a fascinating exploration of what it means to be human. This book will surely change the way readers think about their conversations. --Vanessa Bush